Friday, August 18, 2006

Wiretapping Decision
Here's what people are saying (you can read the decision here):

The good news: Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has courageously declared that Bush’s warrantless program of domestic surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments, the separation of powers doctrine, and FISA, is not justified under the AUMF, and is not justified under the purported doctrine of “inherent authority.”

In other words, everything we’ve all been saying for years turns out to be true (just like Iraq, I might add).
The bad news: The key component of Bush’s twentyfirst century power grab—the NSA’s datamining program that reads all your mail, all your searches, and this blog—is left in place by Judge Taylor’s decision.
Glenn Greenwald:
[C]aveats to the side, the importance of this victory cannot be overstated. The Bush administration has been exploiting what was a rarely used doctrine to, in essence, immunize its conduct from judicial review of any kind. Because courts have been willing to assume in the past that the doctrine was invoked in good faith by the President, they have almost always deferred to it. But this court scrutinized the claim quite thoroughly, and expressed real skepticism over the administration's assertions that national security prevents any court from determining if the law is being violated as a result of warrantless eavesdropping.
The ruling eviscerated the absurd notion on which the administration’s arguments have been based: that Congress authorized Mr. Bush to do whatever he thinks is necessary when it authorized the invasion of Afghanistan.
[F]or now, with a careful, thoroughly grounded opinion, one judge in Michigan has done what 535 members of Congress have so abysmally failed to do. She has reasserted the rule of law over a lawless administration and shown why issues of this kind belong within the constitutional process created more than two centuries ago to handle them.
The Washington Post, of course, has to be different.

By ignoring the law, and making specious arguments that powers contained in Article II make the president virtually unaccountable to either the courts or Congress, the president shows contempt for the other branches and exposes his determination to concentrate power within his own — with no particular gain for the war on terrorism.

Much has changed since terrorists rammed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But one thing that has not is that America is a constitutional democracy with checks and balances. A ruling such as Thursday's is a useful and forceful affirmation of that.

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