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In Warrantless Wiretapping Case, Obama DOJ’s New Arguments Are Worse Than Bush’s | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Thursday 9 Apr 2009, 04:53
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In Warrantless Wiretapping Case, Obama DOJ’s New Arguments Are Worse Than Bush’s | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

We had hoped this would go differently.

Friday evening, in a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA, EFF’s litigation against the National Security Agency for the warrantless wiretapping of countless Americans, the Obama Administration’s made two deeply troubling arguments.

First, they argued, exactly as the Bush Administration did on countless occasions, that the state secrets privilege requires the court to dismiss the issue out of hand. They argue that simply allowing the case to continue “would cause exceptionally grave harm to national security.” As in the past, this is a blatant ploy to dismiss the litigation without allowing the courts to consider the evidence.

It’s an especially disappointing argument to hear from the Obama Administration. As a candidate, Senator Obama lamented that the Bush Administration “invoked a legal tool known as the ‘state secrets’ privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court.” He was right then, and we’re dismayed that he and his team seem to have forgotten.

Sad as that is, it’s the Department Of Justice’s second argument that is the most pernicious. The DOJ claims that the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying — that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.

This is a radical assertion that is utterly unprecedented. No one — not the White House, not the Justice Department, not any member of Congress, and not the Bush Administration — has ever interpreted the law this way.

Previously, the Bush Administration has argued that the U.S. possesses “sovereign immunity” from suit for conducting electronic surveillance that violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). However, FISA is only one of several laws that restrict the government’s ability to wiretap. The Obama Administration goes two steps further than Bush did, and claims that the US PATRIOT Act also renders the U.S. immune from suit under the two remaining key federal surveillance laws: the Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act. Essentially, the Obama Adminstration has claimed that the government cannot be held accountable for illegal surveillance under any federal statutes.

Again, the gulf between Candidate Obama and President Obama is striking. As a candidate, Obama ran promising a new era of government transparency and accountability, an end to the Bush DOJ’s radical theories of executive power, and reform of the PATRIOT Act. But, this week, Obama’s own Department Of Justice has argued that, under the PATRIOT Act, the government shall be entirely unaccountable for surveilling Americans in violation of its own laws.

This isn’t change we can believe in. This is change for the worse.



How exactly is this worse than Bush’s argument?

Comment by Anon

Did you read it? Do you know who the EFF is, and what they do?

Comment by capdiamont

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Did you originally support Bush’s policies here? Did you change you mind once Obama came to office? Personally, I hope Obama changes his stance here. Only weakens his position.

But this is not worse than Bush’s policies

Comment by Anon

Do you assume I do, or did?

“The DOJ claims that the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying — that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.”

Comment by capdiamont

I assumed since it’s in the headline of your blog post.

Reason enough?

Comment by Anon

Do you understand what EFF does? Personally I think they are more qualified on this than you are.

Comment by capdiamont

But Limbaugh’s silliness and shouting are not merely a diversion. There are people who, despite tons of evidence to the contrary, truly believe that his rantings derive from thoughtful consideration of the issues. But close examination reveals that Limbaugh offers little more than the famous American penchant for scape-goating. Economic recovery does not require finger-pointing. It requires constructive analysis and concerted action. That is what our government is now giving us.

Comment by Bernie

So how did this become about Rush?

Comment by capdiamont

because you have made bad words against the chosen one. seems they think the constitution applies only to the populus and not the government. disturbing developments in our rush from democratic republic to democratic corporatcy.

Comment by unanonymous

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Comment by exrepublican

Can you keep even a simple story straight? You need to count to ten, before you start posting.

The story about story about the credit card was in two parts. With me so far? 1st part pick up the case of computer paper for him, with his card. Notice here, his card for his stuff. Got it so far? You seem to get lost easy. 2nd part, accidentally, my wife bought her stuff with his card. Notice it was an accident. It was an unwanted accident, that we didn’t want to happen. It wouldn’t of happened if the clerk did her job right. Link

Comment by capdiamont

I love how the obamitons can’t criticize the infallible pollicies of the “new” president; even if they mimic the policies they decried under Bush II. Would you turn your brother in if you found out he committed cold blooded murder? Jesus would.

Comment by unanonymous

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