Saturday, July 05, 2008

Wait just one minute there

Federal Judge Vaughn R. Walker, a Bush I appointee, has ruled that the Federal government has to play by the rules. The rules, in this instance, being the 1978 FISA law that outlines the legal process for obtaining warrants to wiretap private conversations.

"The Justice Department has tried for more than two years to kill the lawsuit, saying any surveillance of the charity or other entities was a “state secret” and citing the president’s constitutional power as commander in chief to order wiretaps without a warrant from a court under the agency’s program.
But Judge Walker, who was appointed to the bench by former President George Bush, rejected those central claims in his 56-page ruling. He said the rules for surveillance were clearly established by Congress in 1978 under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the government to get a warrant from a secret court."
(Emphasis mine)

This is no small ruling, seeing as how all of the lawsuits against the phone companies for rolling over and letting the Feds tape whatever they wanted to without a warrant have been consolidated under one overall case, which is being overseen by the same Judge Walker who just made this ruling in a similar but unrelated case.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the compromise surveillance law, which provides ex post facto immunity to the phone companies. Please call your Senator and explain slowly why this is a bad thing, and why you urge them to vote against it.

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