Warrantless surveillance program ruled illegal (secretly, several months ago)

Story here:

  1. Should Congress approve the proposal?

  2. Isn’t this whole thing getting way too Kafkaesque?! Precedent-setting court rulings aren’t supposed to be secret! How are lawyers supposed to research them?! How are other judges supposed to take them into account?!

  1. And how can a person accused of a crime challenge evidence gathered illegally if they don’t know of this decision? Or are they just sent secretly to a secret prison and tortured secretly by secret agents? And does this all not matter if it contributes to the campaign to bring democracy to the resty of the world?


This isn’t as big a problem as it seems. The only court (ignoring the issue of appeals for the moment) that will consider such cases is the FISA court, the same court that issued this one. The FISA Court is aware of its own rulings.


Bush now says Congress must stay in session until it approves the new spying law.

The FISA court is not the only court of competent jurisdiction WRT matters relating to the surveillance program. See this thread. I think the federal district court in Oregon ought to have access to the FISA court opnion before it rules.

No. While I’m happy that the Dem’s bill doesn’t go as far as this administration wants it to (not granting retroactive immunity to telecommunications, requiring actual oversight, and has a sunset provision), it still goes too far in softening the requirements for the potential wiretapping of US citizens.

As Sua said, the FISA court is the FISA court, and I still believe there is a necessity for a secret court to issue warrants on sensitive national security issues. But what chaps my hide is that this administration has apparently been breaking the law for years, lying about it, and it’s so secret that we don’t get to know about it. It’s much more Orwellian than Kafkaesque.

And yesterday he said Congress needed to pass spending bills before going on vacation. Guess he thinks he can order around Congress.* The man is flailing.

Interestingly, that article you link to above says the administration is willing to have the new surveillance bill vetted by a court. Hmmm.

You’re right - this whole thing is getting way too weird for words. (It’ll be interesting to see what Olbermann does with this tonight.)

  • But then, maybe he can (cf. Truman’s famous “Turnip Session”).

I would call it more Heller-esque (“Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything that you can’t stop them from doing. And if you ask to see Catch-22, the law says they don’t have to show it to you. What law? Catch-22, of course.”) than Kafka, but I reserve the right to change my mind if Bush starts metamorophizing into a cockroach.

Technical question: can the President actually force the houses to remain in session? I know that one house can block another from adjourning for more than three days while in session, but I don’t think the President has any authority to keep Congress in session.


Yes. If they adjourn their regular session the president can immediately call them into a special session.

All of the various types of congressional session are described, in excruciating detail, here.

It’s in Art. II, Sect. 3

Ruling Limited Spying Efforts

Why isn’t Boehner in jail?

Because it would be cruel and unusual punishment to lock a man up with hardened criminals if his name is “Boehner.”

The Senate has approved Bush’s version of the bill. The House, meanwhile, has rejected a Democratic version.

Yes, the Democrats will go along with a further erosion of civil rights because they are afraid not to.

Of course the air traffic control system can teeter on the brink and, as recent events show, the infrastructure can collapse and nothing gets done. Highway failures and plane crashes are normal parts of life and are tolerated even when their frequency is unecessarily increased by inattention. Terrorist attacks are spectacular and demand instant action and 100% success in prevention methods.

I’ve almost had as much of people as I can take.

This is a little strong, when the majority of Democrats voted against the bill.
Senate Gives in on Wiretapping. 16 Dems Go Along.

Given the unified support of Republicans for eroding our rights, this comment from Talkleft seems more appropriate to the outcome:

From the ACLU’s website:

Without the Democrats that voted for it it wouldn’t have passed. They are paragons of pusillanimity.

Yup, and the leadership should have turned the screws on them until they screamed uncle.

I don’t know about the screws but if they are worth a damn as legislators a little education wouldn’t hurt.

For example, while the Attorney General and everyone else in the administration was claiming that the USA Patriot Act wasn’t being abused the FBI’s Inspector General was listing abuses of the USA Patriot Act by FBI agents.

The FISA court had ruled warrentless wiretaps unconstitutional so why renew and expand the program even for six months?

As was the case with the Patriot Act this was rushed through at the last minute with no hearings and I suspect without anyone really knowing what the measure was about. And all so they could adjourn and get the hell out of town during the heat of August.

I don’t know whether they are jerks or poltroons but they are somewhere in that vicinity.

'Cause the Dems can’t afford to look “soft on terror.”

No other reason.

That, or they just want to get on with their vacation. It seems like everyone gets a vacation – Bush, Congress, the Iraqi parliament…pretty much everyone except U.S. soldiers.