CNet News is reporting that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed suit against the NSA, George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Alberto Gonzales on behalf of AT&T customers in order to try to halt what EFF calls “massive illegal” warrant-less surveillance of Americans.
“For years, the NSA has been engaged in a massive and massively illegal fishing expedition through AT&T’s domestic networks and databases of customer records,” senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston said in a statement. “Our goal in this new case against the government, as in our case against AT&T, is to dismantle this dragnet surveillance program as soon as possible.”
The EFF as tried suing before, but lost at the Federal Appeals Court level, and the SCOTUS refused to intervene. The Appeals Court dismissed the original case on narrow procedural grounds, and never ruled on the legality of the case or the surveillance. I guess EFF is hoping to try to finally get a hearing on legality of the surveillance.
Since I’ve been blogging about the abuses, lies and failures of the Bush administration, a former co-worker and good friend used joke with me to, “watch my back,” and that I could expect to find black helicopters hoovering over my house any day now. Others have given me advice, “These people are capable of anything. Stay off small planes, make sure you aren’t being followed.”
I always laughed and shook my head whenever I heard this stuff. Extreme paranoia wrapped in the tinfoil of conspiracy, I thought. This is still America, and these Bush fools will soon pass into history, I thought. I am a citizen, and the First Amendment hasn’t yet been red-lined, I thought.
Matters are different now.
It seems, perhaps, that the people who warned me were not so paranoid. It seems, perhaps, that I was not paranoid enough. Legislation passed by the Republican House and Senate, legislation now marching up to the Republican White House for signature, has shattered a number of bedrock legal protections for suspects, prisoners, and pretty much anyone else George W. Bush deems to be an enemy.
So much of this legislation is wretched on the surface. Habeas corpus has been suspended for detainees suspected of terrorism or of aiding terrorism, so the Magna Carta-era rule that a person can face his accusers is now gone. Once a suspect has been thrown into prison, he does not have the right to a trial by his peers. Suspects cannot even stand in representation of themselves, another ancient protection, but must accept a military lawyer as their defender.
Illegally-obtained evidence can be used against suspects, whether that illegal evidence was gathered abroad or right here at home. To my way of thinking, this pretty much eradicates our security in persons, houses, papers, and effects, as stated in the Fourth Amendment, against illegal searches and seizures.
“Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable – already a contradiction in terms – and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.”Â Â Â Â Â Continue reading »
Citizens have been writing about the imperial aspirations of this White House since shortly after Bush’s first inauguration. Helen Thomas fired a tough broadside on the subject back in 2002. And just this week Gary Hart wrote a comprehensive summary of our current constitutional crisis.
Yet for six years now Congress has stayed silent.The President executive ordered torture, rendition (so they could perform even more gruesome torture) and eavesdropping on every American who ever used a phone,
And Congress, the co-equal branch of government’s response? Zip.
Alberto Gonzalez and John Yoo brazenly proclaimed a “unitary executive theory” for the American commander-in-chief that Stalin would have envied.
And our elected leaders in the House and in the Senate sat on their hands.
Finally, now that Rep. William Jefferson was nabbed with $90,000 in his freezer and is getting ready for his perp walk; now that a huge swath of very powerful Republicans are cowering under the shadow of impending Abramoff-related investigations, Congress is standing up to the dangerous and gross overreaches of the executive branch.
I guess I shouldn’t complain. As long as it saves the Republic I’m all for it.