Liberty, Safety, and Spying

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
- Benjamin Franklin

I must say I am glad to hear that the court is challenging The Bush Administration's warrantless surveillance program. In the conclusion of her ruling, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor wrote in part:

For all of the reasons outlined above, this court is constrained to grant to Plaintiffs the Partial Summary Judgment requested, and holds that the TSP violates the APA; the Separation of Powers doctrine; the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution; and the statutory law.

Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the final claim of data-mining is granted, because litigation of that claim would require violation of Defendants’ state secrets privilege.

The Permanent Injunction of the TSP requested by Plaintiffs is granted inasmuch as each of the factors required to be met to sustain such an injunction have undisputedly been met. The irreparable injury necessary to warrant injunctive relief is clear, as the First and Fourth Amendment rights of Plaintiffs are violated by the TSP. See Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479 (1965). The irreparable injury conversely sustained by Defendants under this injunction may be rectified by compliance with our Constitution and/or statutory law, as amended if necessary. Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution.

"TSP" referrs to "The Secret Program" and AMA refers to The Administrative Procedures Act. I take "the Separation of Powers doctrine" to mean the separation of powers as defined in the United States Constitution.

The reason that I think that this is a good thing is that it is allowing government to execute the laudable process as required by the United States Constitution (which the Bush Administration apparently sought to prevent). The Legislative Branch of the government has passed legislation that makes it legal for the Executive Branch to conduct surveillance on US citizens. This was done in FISA. Contrary to popular belief, in the interest of an expeditious process the current law under FISA even permits the " eavesdropping " to begin without obtaining a warrant, so long as the Justice Department seeks a warrant within 72 hours after the beginning of eavesdropping. So there is a perfectly legal way for the Bush Administration to spy on American Citizens without breaking the law.

Going further, if the process is not acceptable to the administration then they should ask our citizen-elected representatives in Congress to modify the law. Does the administration really think that in a so called " post-nine-eleven world " (a phrase which I despise) and a subservient Republican controlled congress that they wouldn't lengthen that 72 hours to 90 days if the president merely asked?

Secretly ignoring a law because it is inconvenient is not okay. Luckily the citizenry found out how the executive branch is secretly executing the law and asked (well the ACLU asked for us) the judicial branch to decide if their practices are legal. Now the judicial branch has made a decision (pending the administration's appeal), and demanded the immediate injunction (i.e. stop it) of the program. For now, both sides agreed to let it continue until the administration's appeal is decided.

Finally, I am donating to the ACLU as soon as I finish posting this. I hope you will to.

posted @ Sunday, August 20, 2006 8:25 PM

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