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FISA Court Sides With ACLU Against Administration 352

Posted by kdawson
from the more-light dept.
jamie caught a breaking news story this evening: the secret FISA Court has ordered the Bush administration to respond by August 31 to an ACLU request for orders and legal papers discussing the scope of the government's authority to engage in the secret wiretapping of Americans. The ACLU's press release calls it an "unprecedented order."
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FISA Court Sides With ACLU Against Administration

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  • ... but every time I get ready to write a check, I read about them doing something barking-mad like this:

    International 'Tribunal' on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita [internatio...ibunal.org]

    Second Amendment a 'Collective' right [aclu.org]

    Translation: The Bush Administration is responsible for Hurricane Katrina, but we still need to give them a monopoly on firearms, because that way, we'll all be safer.

    Or something.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Second Amendment a 'Collective' right

      Hey at least they're willing to state, with some persuasion I might add, what their position is, and how they came by it.

      Much as I like the second amendment, some people are going to have to learn that the right to bear arms is a little fucking vague, and could do with a little polish after 200 years of wear and tear.

      Also, and something that's not been adequately explained to me, but where is the line? M-16s OK? What about RPGs? AA Missiles? Nukes? There's
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jcr (53032)
        where is the line?

        The line is basically at the point where your arms become ordinance; in other words, too big to serve as a personal defense against armed individuals. I'm fine with you owning a .50 cal browning, but I have an issue with mortars and heavy artillery.

        -jcr

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        There is no persuasion to their position, actually, if you understand English and the concept of a parenthetical phrase.

        "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" .

        The only part of that sentence that means anything is the bold part, the rest is parenthetical. It's really very simple.

        Let's practice. "Because I like the way you spend all your money on porn, I am going to give you $1,000,000."

        Now,

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by wwahammy (765566)
          The amendment is not created in a vacuum. No other amendment in the Bill of Rights includes a phrase explaining the reason for the amendment. Wouldn't it be logical to assume that, gee, maybe these words written in the supreme law of the country mean something? This isn't the Declaration of Independence where people were trying to convince others of something, this is a legal document.

          Try this: "Pornography, being necessary for the sexual health of the nation, the right of the people keep and hold DVD playe
      • The line was already drawn by US v. Miller, in which the USSC ruled that weapons of no utility to a militia aren't protected.

        That would pretty clearly rule out nukes. It would pretty clearly rule in man-portable small arms.
        • Wait, wasn't the whole 'logic' (and I use that word VERY loosely) behind the 'Assault Weapons Ban' the fact that so-called 'assault weapons' (which, if I remember correctly, is scare-speak for full auto) are ONLY of use to military purposes?

      • by NMerriam (15122)


        Also, and something that's not been adequately explained to me, but where is the line? M-16s OK? What about RPGs? AA Missiles? Nukes? There's either a line that most people can get behind, and shut your griping, or it's all in or all out. Make up your minds.

        Though to be fair, every amendment is vague like that, and deliberately so. Sure, we have freedom of speech, but the courts (and most people) accept that there are limitations to that. There's rarely a specific line you can point to and say "that's exa

    • by belmolis (702863) <billposer@a l u m . m i t .edu> on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:01PM (#20271311) Homepage

      What's so crazy about the International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita? The name and casting of it as a court is a little funny, but basically it is just an inquiry into the Bush administration's mishandling of the relief and reconstruction efforts. Since this not only affects the people in the area but involves the waste of hundreds of millions of tax dollars, this certainly seems a worthwhile topic for investigation, and there is ample evidence already of gross inefficiency and corruption.

      With regard to the Second Amendment, while I like you disagree with the ACLU's position, I don't see why that should prevent you from supporting the ACLU. The ACLU doesn't actively oppose individual gun rights, it just doesn't include them in its agenda.

  • Losers! (Score:4, Funny)

    by einhverfr (238914) <chris@travers.gmail@com> on Friday August 17, 2007 @09:51PM (#20271199) Homepage Journal
    Freakin commies in bed with the terrorists. What do they think this country is? A Republic governed by a Constitution? If they want the rule of law they can all go to Canada.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "The ACLU filed the request with the FISC following Congress' recent passage of the so-called "Protect America Act," a law that vastly expands the Bush administration's authority to conduct warrantless wiretapping of Americans' international phone calls and e-mails."

    I thought the whole hullabaloo was about *domestic* surveillance. Monitoring of internal US communications. This is how the story break a few years ago. But every time someone accidently brings that up, everyone else only talks about cross-borde
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DavidTC (10147)

      The administration likes to claim it's only applying to international traffic, so that's how some people refer to it.

      However a) the NSA has repeatedly admitted it doesn't have the technology to just intercept international calls, b) there is no oversight, and c) the Bush administration just rammed a bill through Congress letting them tap people without a warrant as long as the target is not in the US.

      For those who don't know what that means, 'targets' of a tap do not, in fact, have to be at either ends of

      • by slughead (592713)
        the Bush administration just rammed a [bad] bill through Congress

        Even when the democrats control congress, Bush still has to be responsible for everything. Amazing. How did he do it, I wonder? I know he has a slightly less dismal approval rating (lowest since Hoover), but does that really amount to political capital?

        I don't like him either, but it seems like we're being counterproductive to ignore the fact that both the major parties are responsible. Once you lose your fear of the worst of two evil candidat
        • by jjohnson (62583)
          The Democrats in Congress are hamstrung by their bare majority in the Senate. Nancy Pelosi has passed all the bills in the House that she said she would--she's actually been surprisingly effective. But Reid can't get anything passed in the Senate because the Republicans are filibustering everything, so the matching bill doesn't show up in committee. The investigative committees are currently the only place where Democrats have real power.

          The Republicans in Congress have one goal--prevent the Democrats fr
  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:04PM (#20271345)
    What's the punishment if they don't comply? Who would be the target of the punishment? Who would enforce this punishment?

    I ask these questions, because I can't think of an incident in this past term in office where the Bush administration complied with any request that wasn't directly self-serving. Without a meaningful cost that could actually be enacted, I don't see this administration answering to anyone about anything that they wouldn't like to do already.

    Ryan Fenton

  • by trentfoley (226635) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:08PM (#20271393) Homepage Journal
    The judge that signed this order is the same judge that presided over the Microsoft anti-trust trial after Thomas Penfield Jackson was removed from the case. She has apparently now become presiding judge over FISC. She certainly gets around. [wikipedia.org]
    • by NMerriam (15122)

      She certainly gets around.


      I think it's a sign of spending too much time on the internet when you assume any link labeled "she certainly gets around" will go to a naked picture of someone.
  • by tgd (2822) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:09PM (#20271407)
    This sort of behavior has been the standard operating procedure for our government for seventy years, unfortunately.

    I was recently reading a couple of books on the history of the atomic weapons program in the US, particularly around the spy cases brought against a bunch of people involved.

    A shocking number of known Soviet spies were unable to be tried because of the massive amount of illegal wiretapping that had been done against US citizens during that time. It wasn't until decades later that FOIA releases started to show just how many cases were quietly dropped to avoid it becoming public about the illegal surveillance and wiretapping.

    The biggest difference now is via legal "loopholes" like Guantanamo Bay, and secret courts, people can be imprisoned without a trial or with a secret trial where the government can actually use the illegal wiretaps as evidence.

    In my opinion, they're going after the wrong thing here. What do they hope to do? Stop the wiretaps? It'll *never* happen. What needs to be targeted is the illegal courts that allow them to make use of the illegal wiretaps.
  • Burying the lede. (Score:4, Informative)

    by lheal (86013) <lheal1999@y a h o o .com> on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:13PM (#20271461) Journal
    Why all the hyperventilating? From the end of TFA:

    The ACLU's request to the FISC acknowledges that the FISC's docket includes a significant amount of material that is properly classified. The ACLU argues, however, that the release of court orders and opinions would not raise any security concern to the extent that these records address purely legal issues about the scope of the government's wiretap authority, and points out that the FISC has released such orders and opinions before. The ACLU is seeking release of all information in those judicial orders and legal papers the court determines, after independent review, to be unclassified or improperly classified.
    So release the court orders and such. It's the ACLU's job to be paranoid, but I'm glad they see the value in keeping some things classified. All of these charges that the Bush Administration is trampling over the Constitution and spying on everyone is only helpful to partisans.
  • slashkos (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:55PM (#20271913) Homepage Journal
    This story is tagged "slashkos". As if a story about the FISA Court objecting to unwarranted (pun intended :P) invasions of Americans' privacy is somehow a "liberal" issue.

    I remember when "Conservatives" used to be the most sensitive Americans to government invasion of personal lives. When "Conservatives" used to swear to lay down their very lives to prevent "big government" from gaining unbalanced power over people.

    That was a long time ago. Those "Conservatives" are dead, or sold out to the lust for power and the money it brings.

    Today's "Conservatives" will sell any liberty for any illusion of "security". And even a geek blog like Slashdot can notice. "Slashkos" indeed.
    • It seems the differences between liberal and conservative are something like:

      Liberal: No private ownership of firearms. Abortions on demand. Gay marriage legalized.
      Conservative: Less or no restrictions on private ownership of firearms. Abortions strictly regulated or banned. Gay marriage illegal.

      As both movements are comprised of politicians, I don't see the Democrats ( if they win the next election ) giving up any of the executive authority Bush has acquired. Politicians seek power like teenagers seek
      • by jjohnson (62583)
        I predict that a Democratic president will very publicly repudiate the powers the Bush Administration has claimed--it's the only PR defense against the Republicans crying "hypocrisy" . I doubt it'll make much difference in the actual operations of the executive (what, the NSA and CIA weren't tapping American's phone lines without a warrant before 9/11?), but what the Bush Administration did was try to legalize those powers, and that's what they're getting hammered for.
        • I hope you're right... but I kinda doubt it.

          The PR defense against the Republicans crying hypocrisy would be to use the current Republican talking points in favor of the expansion of the executive and quote the Republicans directly.

          I just dont see a politician, either Dem or Repub, willingly giving up power.
          • by jjohnson (62583)
            I suspect that when President Clinton looks at the PR value of passing a bill saying 'shut down Guantanamo, restore FISA, purge the Justice Department and no political operatives in the West Wing', adds to it the diplomatic value, and weighs it against the quality of intelligence gained by torture, it'll be a no-brainer. I'm sure the executive will still do what it's always done, it just won't try to do it the macho pseudo-legitimacy the Bush Administration tried to do it with.

            One of the genius aspects of
            • Well, purging the justice dept. wouldn't require a bill. Firing all the US Attorneys is rather standard when a new President takes office ( See: Bill Clinton ).

              As to everything else, you're ok with "the executive will still do what it's always done" so long as "it just won't try to do it the macho pseudo-legitimacy the Bush Administration tried to do it with."?

              I read that as: "I don't care what Bush does, I just don't like how he does it". In other words, if Bush was a Democrat, you'd be happy with everyt
              • by jjohnson (62583)
                By purging the Justice Department, I was thinking of all the Kyle Sampsons and Monica Goodlings still in place. Part of Rove's strategy for a permanent majority was to stack the civil service with loyal Republicans started young.

                No, I'm not okay with any of it, but I recognize that the difference between the executive doing it and not doing it has little to do with which party is in power, and less to do with the laws. Governments always do things they shouldn't, for good reasons or bad. What's especiall
              • by NMerriam (15122)

                As to everything else, you're ok with "the executive will still do what it's always done" so long as "it just won't try to do it the macho pseudo-legitimacy the Bush Administration tried to do it with."?

                I read that as: "I don't care what Bush does, I just don't like how he does it". In other words, if Bush was a Democrat, you'd be happy with everything he did?

                I think the more appropriate way to interpret it is that most adults understand that any intelligence agency or military commander will sometimes be

  • by man_ls (248470)
    While overwhelmingly positive, this ruling still has to actually be complied with.

    Let's say, for the sake of argument, the Administration refuses to comply. Who goes to jail, and who takes them? Is it the President? The heads of the various organizations that didn't comply? Nobody, since the Judicial branch can't really enforce anything without the cooperation of agencies under other branches of government?

    I'd like to know, even if it's an unrealistic situation that they'd flat out ignore that sort of an or
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jjohnson (62583)
      This is the (predictable) problem with the ./ summary--it gets a few facts right, and misses the point entirely.

      The Bush Administration has to respond--that's all. An argument that the ACLU has no goddamned right to see what they're requesting is a response. The judge might rule against the Bush Administration, but that just means years more of the Justice Department's stonewalling that they perfected during the Padilla and Moussaoui fiascos.
  • by Danathar (267989) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:21PM (#20272151) Journal
    Being all up in arms about this stuff is fine. But I have SERIOUS concerns that people are SO foamed up at the mouth with Bush that when the next Democrat wins the presidency everybody will be so happy that nobody will pay attention like they are now.

    I predict that with the exception of some high-profile non-productive executive orders the next prez (no matter which party) will keep most the powers that Bush has acquired via executive orders.

    I may sound jaded, but let's not delude ourselves.
    • by stubear (130454)
      You don't sound jaded, I believe you're spot on. The Democrats are refusing to do anything about the current administration, beyond some token gestures designed to gain good will for their platforms in the upcoming election, because they know they have a shot at obtaining that same level of power put in place by the President Bush. If teh Democrats lose the election in '08, watch every one of they cry bloody murder and work to destroy the powers they failed to obtain.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jjohnson (62583)
        In fairness to Congressional Democrats, they may have titular control of Congress, and control of the committees (which grants broad investigative powers that they're using), they're hamstrung by their bare majority in the Senate. The House has passed all of Nancy Pelosi's bills that she promised, only to see them get filibustered in the Senate (meaning that the Senate equivalent bill that gets rationalized in committee with the House bill never gets passed). The Republicans in the Senate have one strateg
        • by sumdumass (711423)
          They would need more then 60 seats. A time table would get vetoed and for once you would see Bush on th offensive and going after his attackers.

          He would probably call a national press conference and reserve time on TV and say that congress is playing games with out soldiers lives, explain the he vetoed the bill because of unrealistic demands, say something about we are all going to die if Iraq fails and then name a few key democrats who are doing it.

          The public would then flood the offices with phone calls a
          • by jjohnson (62583)
            I'm saying that if they couldn't break a veto but could beat a filibuster, they would go on the offensive. Bush can thump his chest all he wants on national TV, but the public has turned against him, and if the Democrats in Congress could point to a tough bill and say "the only thing standing between you and Johnny coming home is Bush's veto", they'd win the PR war, especially heading into the 2008 elections. It would look good to the moderates and independents who want to see something done that signals
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jjohnson (62583)
      I believe that the Republicans will spend every moment of the next Democratic presidency screeching about any use of executive privilege at all; I believe that the Republicans who know the details of the powers the Bush Administration have grabbed, will at every possible opportunity accuse the Democratic president of misusing those powers.

      I think that the Democratic president will make a very public showing of repudiating and rescinding these powers because that's the only PR defense against Republican char
  • by sgilti (668665)
    the FISA court has announced that it will be stepping down at the end of the month, for personal reasons. It claims to have been mulling over this decision for months.
  • Patriot Act (Score:3, Interesting)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Saturday August 18, 2007 @02:25AM (#20273501)
    As far as I can figure, the actual issue is that the Administration holds that the Patriot Act overrules the older legislation and that they are not bound by the FISA process. I tend to agree, since that was the whole point of passing the Patriot Act. It basically suspends part of the constitution and places the USA in a partial state of emergency.
    • There is no such thing as a Patriot Act, there is a USAPATRIOT Act, calling it a Patriot Act makes it seem like it has something to do with patriotism, which it does not.
    • by NMerriam (15122)

      As far as I can figure, the actual issue is that the Administration holds that the Patriot Act overrules the older legislation and that they are not bound by the FISA process. I tend to agree, since that was the whole point of passing the Patriot Act. It basically suspends part of the constitution and places the USA in a partial state of emergency.

      It has nothing to do with the Patriot Act, the administration has basically argued that because we're at war and he's the commander in chief of the military, he

  • It's nice to hear that even the FISA court is demanding that the Administration respect the law - but there are two problems I see that keep me from feeling like this is going to make any difference.

    The first is that this administration just ignores laws and other governmental agencies/branches at will. They consider themselves above the law and act accordinly. They ignored congressional subpoenas, so I doubt that the FISA court is going to have any more luck - and that brings me to the second issue I have:

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