Thursday, October 05, 2006

Big Brother Gets A Reprieve

After an August federal court smackdown, the President's warrantless spying program gets an official (but in no way unexpected) appeals reprieve-
The Bush administration can continue its warrantless surveillance program while it appeals a judge's ruling that the program is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The president has said the program is needed in the war on terrorism; opponents argue it oversteps constitutional boundaries on free speech, privacy and executive powers.

The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave little explanation for the decision...

...U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit ruled Aug. 17 that the program was unconstitutional because it violates the rights to free speech and privacy and the separation of powers in the Constitution...

The government defends the program on the 'OMG we need this to stop terrorism!!' front.

Meanwhile, I wait fruitlessly for someone, anyone, in the government or media to actually address the issue of how warrantless, illegal wiretapping makes any operational difference versus going through the legally required oversight channels.

George? Dick? Alberto? Karl? Gen. Hayden? Anyone care to tackle that pesky lil' fact?

Questions that should be asked: Why did the President need to break the law, as opposed to simply wanting to? How did the incredibly accomodating provisions of FISA (which, among other things, provides options for retroactive warrants) hamper the President's ability to move quickly in ordering surveillance? Did the President and the Justice Department just think up the AUMF and/or Article II legal justification after the program was outed or is that what they believed all along? Why did the President make several statements in 2004 making it clear (falsely) that all wiretapping involved court orders? How does this program relate to recent reports of the Pentagon (etc) spying on peaceful political activists? How many secret, illegal spying programs are going on? Will Congress or the courts ever be briefed on them? Since no court orders or records are kept of this warrantless wiretapping, how can they offer assurances that innocent Americans aren't being spied on (factoring in FBI reports noting that this has been happening)?

The answer, of course- it's about increasing executive power, and not about terrorism.

And don't expect our ol' liberal media to potentially strain a brain cell or offend the corporate bookkeepers attempting to ask these basic questions, nor should you expect the Democrats to risk appearing 'weak' (or so they believe) on national security by asking them either. And so Americans continue to remain ill-informed and complacent on a major issue of constitutional concern.

That is also in no way unexpected.

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