No Ordinary Princess

...anything but ordinary...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Best News I've Heard All Week

I read this article in my Philadelphia Inquirer this afternoon. Yes, I was up until 4 AM and stayed in bed until after noon. It was the first day I didn't have to set an alarm in over a week so I savored it!

Anywho, a federal judge (in Detroit...makes me wonder who appointed the judges for the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals) has finally weighed in (pdf of the opinion from the court's official site) on the Bush administration's NSA warrantless wiretap program...in favor of the ACLU. This is sure to be viewed by the right at another example of activist judges run amok:

Fri, Aug. 18, 2006

Judge voids surveillance program
By Sarah Karush
Associated Press

DETROIT - A federal judge struck down President Bush's warrantless-surveillance program yesterday, saying it violated the rights to free speech and privacy, as well as the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor was the first judge to rule on the legality of the National Security Agency's program, which the White House says is a key tool for fighting terrorism that has already stopped attacks.

"Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution," Taylor wrote in her 43-page opinion.

The administration said it would appeal to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. "We're going to do everything we can do in the courts to allow this program to continue," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at a news conference in Washington.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that eliminating it would put the nation in a "very weakened" position. "Without programs that allow us to do surveillance of communications and transactions in real time... it will be as if in the Cold War we had dropped all the radar," he said.

Taylor ordered an immediate halt to the program, but the government said it would ask for a stay of that order pending appeal.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the suit, said it would oppose a stay but agreed to delay enforcement of the injunction until Taylor hears arguments on Sept. 7.

The ACLU's executive director, Anthony Romero, called Taylor's opinion "another nail in the coffin in the Bush administration's legal strategy in the war on terror."

The ACLU brought the lawsuit in January on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers who say the program has made it difficult for them to do their jobs. They believe many of their overseas contacts are likely targets of the program, which monitors international phone calls and e-mails to or from the United States involving people the government suspects have terrorist links.

The ACLU says the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which set up a secret court to grant warrants for such surveillance, gave the government enough tools to monitor suspected terrorists.

The government argued that the NSA program is well within the president's authority but said proving that would require revealing state secrets.

The ACLU said the state-secrets argument was irrelevant because the Bush administration already had publicly revealed enough information about the program for Taylor to rule.

The administration has decried leaks that led to a New York Times report about the existence of the program last year.

Taylor, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, said the government appeared to argue that the program is beyond judicial scrutiny.

"It was never the intent of the framers to give the president such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights," she wrote. "The three separate branches of government were developed as a check and balance for one another."

Administration officials said the program was essential to national security. The Justice Department said it "is lawful and protects civil liberties."

Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.), the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, has been championing a compromise that would allow Bush to submit the surveillance program to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a one-time test of its constitutionality. But under yesterday's ruling, that would not be enough, said Richard Pildes, a professor at the New York University School of Law.

Taylor suggested in her ruling that the program "would violate the Constitution even if Congress authorized it," Pildes said. "Until Congress actually addresses these questions, I would expect most appellate courts to be extremely reluctant to address many of the questions this judge was willing to weigh in on."

While siding with the ACLU on the surveillance issue, Taylor dismissed a separate claim by the group over NSA data-mining of phone records. She said that not enough had been publicly revealed about that program to support the claim and that further litigation would jeopardize state secrets.

The lawsuit alleged that the NSA "uses artificial-intelligence aids to search for keywords and analyze patterns in millions of communications at any given time." Multiple lawsuits related to data-mining have been filed against phone companies, accusing them of improperly turning over records to the NSA.

The data-mining was only a small part of the Detroit suit, said Ann Beeson, the ACLU's associate legal director and the lead attorney on the case.

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Detroit immigration attorney Noel Saleh, said the NSA program had made it difficult to represent his clients, some of whom the government accuses of terrorist connections.

Saleh, a leader in Michigan's large Arab American community, also said he believes many conversations between people in the community and relatives in Lebanon were monitored in recent weeks as people here sought news of their families amid the violence in the Middle East.

"People have the right to be concerned about their family, to check on the welfare of their family and not be spied on by the government," he said.

Read the judge's ruling in the wiretapping case at http://go.philly.com/wiretap.


It's viewed by me as a refreshing example of American democracy still living and breathing in the US of A.

In answer to my own question, above (from the Wikipedia article on the Sixth Circuit Court):

(Chief Judge) Danny Julian Boggs 1986–present 2003–present — Reagan

(Chief Judge) Boyce F. Martin, Jr. 1979–present 1996–2003 — Carter

Alice M. Batchelder 1991–present — G.H.W. Bush

Martha Craig Daughtrey 1993–present — Clinton

Karen Nelson Moore 1995–present — Clinton

R. Guy Cole, Jr. 1995–present — Clinton

Eric L. Clay 1997–present — Clinton

Ronald Lee Gilman 1997–present — Clinton

Julia Smith Gibbons 2002–present — G.W. Bush

John M. Rogers 2002–present — G.W. Bush

Jeffrey S. Sutton 2003–present — G.W. Bush

Deborah L. Cook 2003–present — G.W. Bush

David W. McKeague 2005–present — G.W. Bush

Richard Allen Griffin 2005–present — G.W. Bush


However, I want you to consider and perhaps commiserate with we progressive voters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who will make selections for the United States Senate this fall.

Arlen Specter

Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.), the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, has been championing a compromise that would allow Bush to submit the surveillance program to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a one-time test of its constitutionality.
Rick Santorum
is a terribly dangerous radical conservative activist legislator who probably has presidential aspirations. The day he's elected to (or cheated into or buys) the presidency will be the day I relinquish my US citizenship and move to Europe.

Bob Casey
Democrat???

Damn shame when your best pick is your senior, Republican Senator.

tags: bitchy / US politics

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