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Judge Finds NSA Wiretapping Program Illegal 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-get-a-warrant dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that a federal judge has ruled that the NSA's warrantless surveillance program was illegal, rejecting the Obama administration's effort to keep one of Bush's most disputed counterterrorism policies shrouded in secrecy. Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the government had violated a 1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance when it intercepted phone calls of Al Haramain, a now-defunct Islamic charity in Oregon, and of two lawyers who were representing it in 2004. Declaring that the plaintiffs had been 'subjected to unlawful surveillance,' the judge said that the government was liable to pay them damages."
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Judge Finds NSA Wiretapping Program Illegal

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  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @08:00AM (#31699176)
    They heard the judge tell his wife when he called to ask "What's for dinner?"
    • by DesScorp (410532)

      They heard the judge tell his wife when he called to ask "What's for dinner?"

      Wife? Not this guy. This is the same judge presiding over the Proposition 8 trial in California, and the biggest open secret in the whole affair is that Vaughn Walker is himself homosexual.

      • by ravenspear (756059) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @01:16PM (#31701400)
        Good, maybe we'll actually get a decent ruling on it this time. If Walker should be disqualified from ruling on this case because he is gay, then all religious bigot judges would have to be disqualified as well, and we've had plenty of them rule on gay issues.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gyrogeerloose (849181)

        biggest open secret in the whole affair is that Vaughn Walker is himself homosexual.

        It's not a secret at all, he's openly gay but according to this San Francisco Chronicle article [sfgate.com] "Walker [...] has never taken pains to disguise - or advertise - his orientation."

        Sounds like you're making something out of nothing. I have mod points and briefly considered modding you troll but decided that a reply was more fair.

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        Open secret? Sounds instead like a thing anyone not a total douche just knows isn't polite to mention cus it's not fucking relevant. Black woman judge rules on casing involving civil rights. Oh noes? White straight guy Judge presides over criminal case with white straight guy defendant -- sweet lord the bias, remove him!

  • This was going to be a first post, but it was intercepted with a MITM attack fom the NSA.......
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Thursday April 01, 2010 @08:03AM (#31699202) Journal

    Judge Finds NSA Wiretapping Program Illegal

    Versus NYTimes title:

    Federal Judge Finds N.S.A. Wiretaps Were Illegal

    See the difference? The program wasn't ruled illegal. That would be huge. It's the fact that these people are American citizens and there was no court order to wiretap them and they found out about it. For most of us it's just the first two. And from the article:

    The overhauled law, however, still requires the government to obtain a warrant if it is focusing on an American citizen or an organization inside the United States. The surveillance of Al Haramain would still be unlawful today if no court had approved it, current and former Justice Department officials said. But since Mr. Obama took office, the N.S.A. has sometimes violated the limits imposed on spying on Americans by the new FISA law. The administration has acknowledged the lapses but said they had been corrected.

    So this isn't the great news with a big change that you were hoping for. It just means that if you can prove you were wrongfully wiretapped then you get restitution. Problem is that you have no proof. So you can either lay a trap for the NSA (not smart) or complain to your representative or do nothing.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Em Emalb (452530)

      Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that's a straw, you see? You watching?. And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake... I... drink... your... milkshake!

    • or complain to your representative or do nothing.

      Given that Congress and the courts had abandoned us on this issue, complaining to your representative is essentially doing nothing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
        You do realise that you put those guys there, don't you?

        Not you personally, but the people who voted for their respective party's. You folks really need to sort out your electorate... Maybe handing out fliers on election day, outside the polling areas? List alternative parties, some of their major points... Something for them to read while in line.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Derek Pomery (2028)

          Totally pointless as I know.

          I've tried getting Libertarians elected.

          The simplest one was a judge. In theory, no party affiliation. Democrats and Republicans splitting the judges, no one really knows much about judges, the Libertarian lawyer is well qualified. We're manning the polls. Easy. Right?

          Wrong. Everyone just picks their sample ballot printed by the Dems that says to vote for the 2 Democratic judges and the 1 Republican one. They just copy from the "sample" onto the real. That's their entire

          • by TheLink (130905)
            So the people are getting what they want. They just don't happen to want the same thing as you do.

            And so > 95% of the votes goes to the "Two Parties" party- who are clearly doing a satisfactory job according to the voters.
            • by Martin Blank (154261) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @09:51AM (#31699960) Journal

              The general consensus is that Congress is doing an abysmal job, with an overall approval rating somewhere in the mid-teens. However, when people are asked about how their specific representatives are doing, the approval rating is usually at least in the mid-40s, and often well above the 50% mark. Essentially, the common view is, "Everyone in Congress is an idiot except the ones I voted for."

              I happen to agree that most of Congress don't deserve to be there, but there are some that do. I'd like to see them all leave at the same time and start over, but I don't want term limits. We voted on those in California to deal with the stupid political shenanigans that were going on, and things got worse -- far, far worse. I voted for them myself, sold on the idea that bringing in fresh blood on a regular basis would keep the corruption level down. I'd happily see the term limits overturned now, because I have realized that with the stupid political shenanigans came the realization on the part of legislators that they were probably going to have to work with the guy on the other side of the aisle for the next 20-40 years, and so making friends even on contentious issues would be a good idea.

              Term-limited legislators also don't have the time to learn the complexities of their districts. One's district might be relatively simple if it consists of a bunch of forest land and a few small towns, but those encompassing agricultural zones or crossing through cities with multi-ethnic neighborhoods may have far more complex issues to learn, and with only six years available in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate, there just isn't time to learn the subtleties, or to carry forward the knowledge that they do gain to help shape legislation a decade or two or three in the future.

              • by Golddess (1361003) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @10:54AM (#31700358)

                Term-limited legislators also don't have the time to learn the complexities of their districts.

                WHAT THE FUCK???

                No, seriously. What. The. Fuck? Don't have time to learn the complexities of their districts? Why the fuck are they even allowed to be voted in to represent that district if they don't know anything about the goddamned district they are supposed to be representing???

                If this isn't what you meant, then please, clarify.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Reziac (43301) *

                  Exactly -- but observationally, many don't have a clue about ANY part of their district other than the squeaky wheels.

                  I've noticed tho, that the ones who have a clue are also most likely to maintain a bunch of local offices and to regularly do town hall meetings and suchlike, all in the name of getting average citizens' input.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by TheLink (130905)
                  > Why the fuck are they even allowed to be voted in to represent that district if they don't know anything about the goddamned district they are supposed to be representing???

                  AFAIK, whether they know anything or not is irrelevant, as long as:

                  1) They manage to run as a candidate.
                  2) They get voted in.
                  3) They aren't disqualified for whatever reason.

                  There are some restrictions and requirements on who can be a candidate, but I doubt "knowing stuff" is a requirement.
                  • by Golddess (1361003)
                    I admit I cannot think of a good way of ensuring the candidates actually know enough to properly represent the district they are being voted in to represent. I think I just got a little carried away over the idea that someone out there actually thinks it's ok to elect someone to represent a district that they know nothing about.
                    • It's not that they don't know necessarily anything about their districts (though it can happen), but think about jobs that you may have held where you started and knew the basics of the job that you were about to do, but there were underlying factors at that particular workplace that affected how the job was done. Cash flow (equivalent to taxes, fees, and spending in government), social strata, interactions with other locales... You might have learned a little about these things by reading up on the company

          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I've tried getting Libertarians elected.

            ...

            Everyone just picks their sample ballot printed by the Dems that says to vote for the 2 Democratic judges and the 1 Republican one. They just copy from the "sample" onto the real. That's their entire act of voting, even when we could get them to accept alternate literature.

            All that means is that the Democrats are doing a better job of selling their candidate than you did selling yours. Figure out why, and work out a better strategy for November.

            Seriously, I don't vote for libertarians because their answer to a hard question is to take their toys and go home.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Derek Pomery (2028)

              I was making several points there.

              One was that a set of non-partisan posts were divided between the 2 parties. There was no competition.

              The other was that voters were not aware they were voting for a Republican judge even if they were strongly opposed to Republicans

              The final one was that it wasn't about selling anything. They simply handed people sample ballots at the station and people copied them down. In essence, they were voting for the entire Democratic apparatus, which is a difficult momentum to ov

              • Absolutely, Preference Voting [wikipedia.org] of some kind would go a long way.

              • by Sabriel (134364)

                The other was that voters were not aware they were voting for a Republican judge even if they were strongly opposed to Republicans

                They simply handed people sample ballots at the station and people copied them down.

                Er, am I understanding this right, that the U.S. ballot system does not indicate the political affiliation of the candidates?

                Here in Australia the party samples may or may not list affiliations, but the actual ballot we have to fill in does. E.g. Adam, Acme Party; Bob, Party Foo; Cecil, Independen

                • Not all posts are partisan.
                  Judges usually are not considered partisan although in practice the democrats and republicans field their own judges. They just aren't identified as such on the ballot.

                  In this case the democrats and republicans had agreed to field 2 dems and 1 rep, to avoid any actual need to have a contest.

                  The actual names on the ballot had no affiliation though.

          • Sounds like you're saying the voters have abandoned themselves.
        • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday April 01, 2010 @12:14PM (#31700934) Homepage Journal

          Not you personally, but the people who voted for their respective party's [candidate].

          The corporate dollars trump my vote, and those dollars go to both major party candidates. The corporate media won't report on any candidate that isn't Republican or Democrat.

          Maybe handing out fliers on election day, outside the polling areas?

          In my state you can't do that within 100 feet (30 meters) of a polling place, but it does no good anyway. The Ron Paul yard signs were thick last election, but McCain beat him handily. And what's one flyer going to do against every newspaper, radio, and TV outlet in the country?

          We have the best legislators money can buy.

          • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @12:30PM (#31701064) Journal

            Have you considered that, perhaps, Ron Paul is not a candidate that is viewed favorably by many people who might otherwise be willing to vote third party?

            I mean, really. Reading Slashdot, it is like "third party" is just synonym for "libertarian". If it is so in practice, I am not surprised about lack of third party votes.

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              I mentioned him because there were an amazing number of Ron Paul signs in Springfield. They outnumbered all the other Republicans' signs put together by ten to one, but he lost handily.

              IIRC I voted for the Green Party's candidate in the general election. There were six Presidential candidates on my ballot in the general election, yet only two got any media coverage. Even the term "third party" makes it look like all the other parties (there are over 50) are insignifigant and have no chance, despite the fact

              • Taxes certainly take your liberty away - try not reporting your income, or collecting sales tax as a store and see how free you remain.
                • by mcgrew (92797) *

                  Not reporting you income is a crime, and committing any crime risks taking your liberty away. You're no more free to not pay taxes than you're free to rob a bank. The power to tax is specifically granted in the US Constition, and without taxation you would have no army, nor places for legislatore to legislate, etc.

        • by sjames (1099)

          So, I can vote for the guy who supports this and has an R after his name, the guy who supports this and has a D after his name, or the guy with an I after his name who probably won't win and even if he does, won't get anything at all accomplished unless he abstains from this issue?

          The 3rd choice might eventually do some good, but it's damned near doing nothing.

      • This just in - the Congress have renamed themselves "lords" rather than representatives. So now we have an elected nobility, and we citizens are no longer sovereign individuals, but serfs.

        Yay.

        April Fool's?

        • by s73v3r (963317)
          They're called Lords in the British Parliament. That doesn't mean they're nobility. Its a title, just like "Representative" or "Senator"
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        It's not like it will accomplish nothing. It will get you on the terrorist watch list. That's something, right?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I have not read the Judge's opinion, so I do not know which was actually held, but though the article title may have only stated the Wiretaps were illegal, the first sentence of the article states that "A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s program of surveillance without warrants was illegal." As in the entire program, so in your words, huge. Without a warrant, this type of action is illegal. And the entire program that was in place consisted of surveillance without wa

    • by residieu (577863)
      What else can you hope for, though? Everything's legal if you don't get caught.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Paradise Pete (33184)

      See the difference? The program wasn't ruled illegal.

      The article says "A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the National Security Agency's program of surveillance without warrants was illegal"

      • by Jiro (131519) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @10:12AM (#31700120)

        It's the New York Times. Accuracy there has been suboptimal.

        And the ruling didn't even go that far. The government's defense was that it is not required to obey the law. The government didn't try to argue that it *was* obeying the law. So the judge ruled that 1) yes, you are required to obey the law, and 2) since you didn't try to argue that you were obeying the law, I have to assume that you're not, so pay up.

        In other words, the issue of legality didn't really come up except in a very narrow sense.

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          The government didn't try to argue that it *was* obeying the law.

          Cus they can't.

          So the judge ruled that 1) yes, you are required to obey the law

          Now there's a legal "duh" if I ever heard one.

          In other words, the issue of legality didn't really come up except in a very narrow sense.

          True and of course doesn't set any strict precedent or force the Executive to do anything or punish anyone who performed illegal acts.

          But it is very promising for any future cases that come forward, since it strongly suggests that

    • Actually, the ruling is more subtle than the news media can understand

      The Obama administration did not provide a defense on whether the wiretaps are legal or illegal. The Administrations defense was this was a "State Secrets" case and that neither the Judge or the Plaintiff could have access to the information to determine the legality or illegality.

      The Judge ruled that the State's Secrets doctrine didn't apply. Therefore because the Administration didn't provide any additional defense, he upheld the Pla

  • This is a very cool outcome to a long and very annoying program. Carte Blanche policies for spying one one's citizens is not just annoying, it ensure whoever's at the top will get corrupter that much faster.

    by the way, I miss April Fools, OMGPONIES! Style. That was the best April Fools EVAR
    [cries]
  • by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@gd[ ]aud.net ['arg' in gap]> on Thursday April 01, 2010 @08:05AM (#31699212) Homepage
    ...are getting more elaborate by the minute. First the iPad is described as 'working according to marketing promises'. And now that ?!?
  • April Fools? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by siwelwerd (869956) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @08:06AM (#31699228)
    I spent several minutes deciding if this was a joke or not. And that fact makes me very sad.
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      If you click the link it's obvious that it's not an April fools joke. The article was published on 31 March.

      But I do admit it's sometimes hard to tell from the face of it whether it's true or not.

      If only /. would limit itself to one and only one joke article... it may even be a good one... it seems to get worse every year...

      I want those ponies back!

      At least that was a decent April Fools prank - so good it resulted in a meme.

      • by Zen Hash (1619759)

        The article was published on 31 March.

        Sometimes April Fools jokes are posted early.

        Near the bottom:

        A version of this article appeared in print on April 1, 2010, on page A1 of the New York edition.

      • by siwelwerd (869956)

        If you click the link (...)

        You must be new here.

    • by Toze (1668155)
      Yeah, there's going to be a lot of disappointed people when they post the correction to this tomorrow.
  • Pay Damages? (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by kenh (9056)

    The excerpt said:

    the judge said that the government was liable to pay them damages

    Now, what if it is found that those damages payments are in fact funneled to a terrorist organization, could the government be tried for aiding our enemies by giving them money? That could make for some interesting blog posts on both the left AND the right!

    • And was this all just an elaborate plot to funnel money to terrorists? /Puts on tinfoil hat.

      • by kenh (9056)

        You know, the government has done stranger things to funnel money to folks it wanted to (Iran-Contra)

        One of the things that make this conspiracy theory so hard to make is that it spans two administrations...

        What if the only proof they had the group was a terrorist front, funneling money to terrorists, was from the intercepted calls, so they "convieniently" loose terrorist-group status (since the evidence is thrown out) just in time to collect their "damages" from Uncle Sam... "Isn't that so convieeeeeenient

  • Just a speed bump (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smchris (464899) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @08:08AM (#31699254)

    I'm sure our crack Supreme Court will understand the constitutionality of illegal wiretaps.

  • Enough said (Score:4, Informative)

    by muckracer (1204794) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @08:16AM (#31699286)

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    • by jjo (62046) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @09:47AM (#31699928) Homepage

      The literal words of the Constitution do not cover electronic communications. It's only judicial interpretation over the years that has established the idea that "persons, houses, papers, and effects" implies electronic communication as well. However, this judicial interpretation has not included constitutional protection of many international communications or domestic communications with agents of foreign powers. (Think about it: why was the FISA statute needed to protect these communications if they were already protected by the Constitution?)

      The legal question that Obama (following in Bush's footsteps) is posing is this: does the Congress, through the FISA legislation, have the right to restrict the President's power, as Commander-in-Chief, to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance? It's really not as obvious a question as many people think.

      Quoting the Constitution, far from ending the discussion, actually points out the inherent problem: how should an 18th-century document be applied in the 21st century? Supreme Court precedent (which, we know from the campaign-finance case, must never, ever be changed) provides much less Constitutional protection from electronic intercepts than most people realize.

      • by zzsmirkzz (974536) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @11:15AM (#31700518)
        How does the work "Effects" not cover electronic communications. Even the fact that they go through the pain of listing so many nouns should make the intent clear. Nothing can be searched or seized without probable cause and without a description of the places to be searched and the items to be seized.
        • by Reziac (43301) * on Thursday April 01, 2010 @12:10PM (#31700918) Homepage Journal

          That was my thought too. "Effects" is "any damned thing you own that we didn't think of offhand, but might not be precisely homes or papers." In short, anything that is YOURS. How is this not clear?? How would electronic anything be exempt??

          Besides, the Constitution is not a list of things We The People may do or not do. It is a list of things the Government MUST do and MUST NOT do, and with respect to that government, the Constitution is indeed in the form of "all things not compulsory are forbidden".

          I swear, our whole government is becoming one big April Fools joke, with We The People cast as the fools. :(

          • by westlake (615356)

            It is a list of things the Government MUST do and MUST NOT do, and with respect to that government, the Constitution is indeed in the form of "all things not compulsory are forbidden".

            That probably takes the argument too far.

            The Constitution got a pretty through working-over after the Civil War - a permanent alteration in the balance of power between the state and federal governments - and there remains the problem of definition and interpretation.

            The way people think - the way people talk - changes over

            • by Reziac (43301) *

              Working over in the sense of being battered and bruised and no longer taken seriously. That, and altered modern interpretations, leaves us with the government we have today. :(

              Sometimes change is not such a good thing.

        • Nothing can be UNREASONABLY searched or seized without probably cause. That one word makes a big difference.

          Nobody is arguing that electronic communications don't count as personal effects, since precedent has already determined that it does.

      • The legal question that Obama (following in Bush's footsteps) is posing is this: does the Congress, through the FISA legislation, have the right to restrict the President's power, as Commander-in-Chief, to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance? It's really not as obvious a question as many people think.

        I thought the crux of the hoopla (if I might use such a phrase) was that this was about domestic surveillance?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PPH (736903)

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. ...
      April Fools

      There. fixed it for you.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I journaled [slashdot.org] about this a couple of years ago.

    • Enough said? Let's discuss the legality of the adjective "unreasonable", for starters.

  • OMG Ponies! (Score:4, Informative)

    by thomasdz (178114) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @08:18AM (#31699300)

    This ruling is the second time a federal judge has declared the program of wiretapping without warrants to be illegal. However a 2006 decision by a federal judge in Detroit, was reversed on the grounds that those plaintiffs could not prove that they had been wiretapped and so lacked legal standing to sue.
    The new law, however, still requires the government to obtain a warrant if it is focusing on an American citizen or an organization inside the United States. The surveillance of Al Haramain would still be unlawful today if no court had approved it

    by the way I like the new Slashdot colour scheme.

    • Sure, we broke the law and violated people's civil rights... But you can't prove that we violated *your* rights specifically, so you have no case against us.
    • by thomasdz (178114)

      Instead of a +5 Informative, that should be a -1 Troll. I copied sentences almost directly from the NYT article and just changed a couple words. April fools! I've never trolled for Karma before... I didn't think it was going to be that easy.

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        I didn't think it was going to be that easy.

        Really?

        You really didn't think it'd be that easy, seriously?

        No, no, I mean REALLY?

  • by moeinvt (851793) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @08:20AM (#31699312)

    The FISA law was created in the wake of civil liberties abuses under the Johnson and Nixon administrations. It set up the secret FISA court so that the executive branch could not use "national security" as an excuse to bypass judicial oversight when conducting surveillance. The standards were very low to begin with, but the essential point is the "checks and balances" provision where at least SOMEONE (even if it's a secretive panel of judges) other than the executive branch knows what's going on.

    A critical element of the LAW that's being overlooked here is that it established civil AND criminal penalties for violations. If the judge has ruled that there are civil liabilities, then it's obvious that someone broke the law. We now need to see criminal investigations, arrests and prosecutions. What's the point of having a regulatory framework governing the behavior of Federal employees when there are no consequences for violating the regulations? From the intelligence community to the financial regulatory agencies to the legislature and president himself, this government has exhibited an utter and complete disregard for the rule of law. Nixon said "If the president does it, then it's not a crime". Now it seems like "If a government employee does it, it's not a crime".

  • Pass the buck (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Alarindris (1253418)

    the judge said that the government was liable to pay them damages

    #1 Who is this Mr. Government?
    #2 Where does this Mr. Governments income come from?

    I see.

    This isn't justice, it's a fucking joke. How apt for Apr. 1st.

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @08:35AM (#31699424) Homepage Journal
    As with the "1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance"
    Read what President Carter had to say:
    http://www.cnss.org/fisa.htm ftp://cnss.org/Carter.pdf [cnss.org]
    Its interesting how todays pundits, talking heads and NSA types seem to have missed the 'all', 'US persons' and 'electronic' part.
    But never fear Mr or Ms NSA worker, the US gov will cover you by changing the definition of a US person to a domestic terrorist.
    http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-s3081/show [opencongress.org]
    With the magic T word, all domestic US protections are off :)
    Its like Tbilisi or Budapest in 1956 - everybody needs a telco tap and a drone.
  • by redelm (54142) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @09:19AM (#31699732) Homepage

    I'm not sure exactly what damages they can claim. Perhaps lawyers fees. More important is the actual finding -- if the surveillance was illegal, it falls under the "Fruit of the Poisoned Vine" doctrine, and and evidence gathered as a consequence becomes inadmissible in any criminal action.

    This the a mjaor finding, and I expect the Feds to appeal. They have lots of lawyers and do not worry about the cost.

    • If celebrities can win substantial money because a magazine made up a story that they hired a trainer because they were fat, you should be able to get even more for illegally being watched by government spies.
      • by redelm (54142)
        Not how it works -- you have to show losses. The celb has no problem because the adverse publicity costs them roles/gigs that have defined profitability. There are probably precedents. Celebs major asset is their reputation and public image. Impairment costs them $.

        These private individuals would have a far tougher time showing actual losses. According to TFA, their lawyer is claiming $100/day for 202 days. And punatives are up to the court. What can they claim, presuming investigators have kept dat

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I'm not sure exactly what damages they can claim.

      Punitive damages, perhaps?

    • by mdielmann (514750)

      More important is the actual finding -- if the surveillance was illegal, it falls under the "Fruit of the Poisoned Vine" doctrine...

      Do you really think the evidence found from a warrantless wiretap wouldn't be enough to get you disappeared?
      And there is the crux of the problem: If you remove rule of law in how evidence is collected and used, and then remove it from how people are treated based on that 'evidence', no one is safe, anywhere, from abuse of government power.

      • by redelm (54142)
        "get you disappeared" sounds like kidnapping. A serious felony. If government agents (or anyone else) are prepared to do this, they certainly will not hesitate to tap phones. Legal or otherwise. However, I suspect not many are. Most are bureaucrats worried about their pensions and rather afraid of incarceration. Some might even be interested in enforcing laws.

        While certainly gray areas have been pushed by many Presidents and federal officers, none so far has really wanted to break law flagrantly. Th

        • by mdielmann (514750)

          Ah, but the government isn't you and me, and when they 'kidnap' someone, they claim to do it under the PATRIOT Act. See Mike Hawash [wikipedia.org]. While I can't say he's a great guy, or that I agree with him, how can justice be served with 6 weeks of imprisonment with no charges laid, and only getting those charges after enough noise was made by other people?
          Likewise with Omar Khadr. Not too many 15-year-olds get tried as adults, and as far as I know, he hasn't even been tried.
          The problem is, these acts are committed

  • Judge Vaughn R. Walker should get the Presidential Freedom Award. He has told everyone in government that we are all equal under the law. Even President Bush and NSA spooks don't get a free pass to lawless behavior. As VP Biden would say - this is a BIG F*'g deal - not just for illegal wire taps, but for all kinds of lawless behavior that has been (still is) been done by government employees.

  • Otherwise, people would have been able to claim that this 'win' was just a default verdict.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Sprouticus (1503545)

      If they dont appeal I actually think this might have been an intentional act on the part of the Obama Justice dept to undermine the Bush Doctrine. Makes you wonder if the document that was 'leaked accidentily' was put in there on purpose.

      Think about it. If Obama had just said he was stopping the program, anyone could have restarted it in the future. But by sabotaging the program and ensuring its demise they actually fixed the problem permanently. Especially if they dont appeal.

      Or they could be just as power

  • hahahahaha, kewl.

    answer the door when we knock, don't make us mad.

  • ...it's April Fool's day.
  • Seems that the USA is such a free country, that you can even BUY freedom!
    USA! USA! USA! ;)

    P.S.: Seriously? No Bush & friends going to jail (PMITAP) for it? Really? WTF?

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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