Finally-A Judge Who Understands the Constitution

 Constitution, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society, The Courts  Comments Off on Finally-A Judge Who Understands the Constitution
Feb 242009
 

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that a Federal Judge is questioning the constitutionality of the law designed to give the telecommunications companies blanket immunity for their illegal wiretaps. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has asked President Obama’s Justice Department to present its views by Wednesday on whether the law gives the attorney general too much power to decide whether a company is immune from lawsuits.

This is some progress, but Obama voted for the law when he was a Senator, and during his confirmation hearings last month, Attorney General Eric Holder indicated he would defend the law.

Under the law, a judge is required to dismiss a wiretapping suit against a telecommunications firm if the attorney general explains the firm’s role to the judge in a confidential statement. The government would say either that the firm had no role or that it participated based on assurances that the president had approved the eavesdropping to protect the nation from terrorism.

Judge Walker rightfully notes that the law appears to set no criteria for the attorney general to use when deciding if he will “grant” immunity for a particular company. I’m guessing it doesn’t because then Presidents Bush/Chenney were fighting to protect their friends. Walker is relying on a 1944 Supreme Court ruling which sets constitutional limits on laws granting power to the President.

Oh, I forgot, under Bush, the Constitution was just a “quaint old document.”

EFF Sues the NSA and Bush Over Illegal Wiretaps

 Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Politics, Society  Comments Off on EFF Sues the NSA and Bush Over Illegal Wiretaps
Sep 192008
 

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.

NSA Might Have Tapped Phones Pre-9/11

 Constitution, Corruption, Politics, Presidency, Technology, The Courts  Comments Off on NSA Might Have Tapped Phones Pre-9/11
Jul 052006
 

Bloomberg is reporting that evidence seems to indicate the NSA approached AT&T months prior to 9/11 seeking to intercept telephone calls.

The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.

The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation’s largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.

“The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,” plaintiff’s lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. “This undermines that assertion.”

Here’s the complete story>>