Ever since President Bush was forced to admit that he was spying on Americans’ telephone calls and e-mail without warrants, his lawyers have fought to keep challenges to the program out of the courts. On Thursday, that plan failed. A federal judge in Detroit declared the eavesdropping program to be illegal and unconstitutional. She also offered a scathing condemnation of what lies behind the wiretapping – Bush’s attempt to expand his powers to the point that he can place himself beyond the reach of Congress, judges or the Constitution.

“There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution,” wrote Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the U.S. District Court in Detroit. Her decision was based on a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

She said Bush violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when he ordered the National Security Agency to spy without a warrant on international phone calls and e-mail by Americans and foreign residents of the United States. She noted that the surveillance law was passed to prohibit just this sort of presidential abuse of power and provided ample flexibility for gathering vital intelligence. She also said that the program violated the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as the rights of free speech and association granted by the First Amendment.

The ruling eviscerated the absurd notion on which the administration’s arguments have been based: that Congress authorized Bush to do whatever he thinks is necessary when it authorized the invasion of Afghanistan.

It’s good news that this ruling exists at all. Bush’s lawyers tried to have the entire suit thrown out on national security grounds, a tactic they have used in an alarming number of cases.

No sooner had this ruling been issued than Congress, who has been searching for ways to give legal cover to an illegal spying program, began calling for new laws to overcome Taylor’s objections. Republicans quickly pointed out that Taylor was appointed by President Jimmy Carter and that some of the many precedents she cited were written by liberal judges. These efforts to undermine Taylor’s arguments will undoubtedly continue while the White House appeals the decision, and the outcome in the conservative 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is uncertain.

But for now, with a careful, thoroughly grounded opinion, one judge in Michigan has done what 535 members of Congress have so abysmally failed to do. She has reasserted the rule of law over a lawless administration and shown why issues of this kind belong within the constitutional process created more than two centuries ago to handle them.

Of course, Bush is appealing the decision. And for now is not indicating he will obey the court ruling on grounds of National Security. Click the link above for the Yahoo! News story . . .

For more, visit www.dcoffline.com

Posted at 08:47 pm by DC Offline

Posted by Scottie @ 08/20/2006 09:41 PM PDT
Nice commentary in general.

There is a choice that Americans need to come to terms with : Freedom or Security, and I would add an asterisk to the term security, because one could successfully argue that the current administration’s collective actions have not strengthened US security, but weakened it, after 9-11.

Do Americans value their freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution (which this administration has shown extreme disregard of) or do they want their questionable security, with conditions imposed and many qualifications?

I’ll sum up this this administration’s opinion of the Constitution by its fearless leader, which was verified by a few people present that day…

Pres Bush met with GOP leaders on the issue of the renewal of the Patriot Act, whose name is a misnomer, and after repeated appeals to examine the constututionality of the act by his own staff, responded with:

“The Constitution is just a god-damned piece of paper”

But don’t take my word for it, do a google search and read up.

Cheers

Scottie

Constitution Smonstitution

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