Skip to comments.Two Groups Planning to Sue Over Federal Eavesdropping [Hitchens is plaintiff against GW]
Posted on 01/17/2006 2:59:09 AM PST by summer
Two leading civil rights groups plan to file lawsuits Tuesday against the Bush administration over its domestic spying program....
The Center for Constitutional Rights plans to sue on behalf of four lawyers at the center and a legal assistant there who work on terrorism-related cases at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba,... Similarly, the plaintiffs in the A.C.L.U. lawsuit include five Americans who work in international policy and terrorism, along with the A.C.L.U. and three other groups....
One of the A.C.L.U. plaintiffs, Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, ...
Also named as plaintiffs in the A.C.L.U. lawsuit are the journalist Christopher Hitchens, who has written in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; Barnett R. Rubin, a scholar at New York University who works in international relations; Tara McKelvey, a senior editor at The American Prospect; the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Greenpeace, the environmental advocacy group; and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country's largest Islamic advocacy group....
Bill Goodman, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said that in suing in federal court to block the surveillance program, his group believed "without question" that Mr. Bush violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which governs wiretaps, by authorizing the security agency operation.
But Mr. Goodman acknowledged that in persuading a federal judge to intervene, "politically, it's a difficult case to make."
He added: "We recognize that it's extremely difficult for a court to stand up to a president, particularly a president who is determined to extend his power beyond anything envisioned by the founding fathers. That takes courage."
The debate over the legality of Mr. Bush's eavesdropping program will be at the center of Congressional hearings expected to begin next month....
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Sometimes it's hard to tell -- is this politics as usual, or something more?
BTW, I was surprised to see Hitchens' name as a plaintiff; yet, there's nothing on his website about this.
Actually this is a GOOD thing that will eventually go to the S.C. to be decided. The President says "I have these powers" to deal with this new style threat. Congress objects. So someone brings a lawsuit and it goes to Court system. That is HOW the system of checks and balances is suppose to work. This is a GOOD thing.
And by then Alito should be on the bench!
I don't see a court taking the case, absent a showing that the party to the case can surmount the burden of proof that he was surveilled in a way that is arguably contrary to the 4th amendment. The party must "be injured," not "think I might have been injured."
As a bit of a sideline, the argument of 4th amendment violation can also be made by a plaintiff (or defendant, in the case of an indictment involving evidence gathered by FISA-related authority), in the form of "the statute itself is unconstitutional because it goes beyond what the 4th amendment permits." I point this out mostly to illustrate that lawsuits are a dime a dozen.
Back to the "must be injured," that doesn't mean there has to be a showing of damages, only a showing of unconstitutional surveillance. Without that, I would expect the Court to rule that there is no standing.
I don't want this being decided at the supreme court with kennedy as the swing vote.
Kennedy is already going to vote with the liberal quartet on the texas redistricting case.
The congressional authority after 9/11 gave the executive branch the authority to go after al queda.
So it can't be illegal for something congress knew about also.
Wouldn't the defendant have to be someone that was affected by this?
How did this historical quote about FDR get in here?
Instead of, "surveillance program designed to identify terrorists both within and outside the U.S.". The bias at the NYT continues.
"if the courts rule against him -- that's not good news"
Perhaps the scenario you mentioned explains the Meiers nomination?
What bugs me about this whole
"eavesdropping" thing is the number of people who believe it automatically means the government is listening in on us all just willy-nilly. I had this argument with my sister over the weekend. There has to be something to make them want to listen...like a phone call to or from the US by a name on a list, for example...something that causes a raised eyebrow. I tried to explain to her that the government has not the time or resources to listen to her discuss soap operas with her friend.
Has the statute of limitatiions run out for us suing Clinton over Echelon and Carnivore?
'Better Than Well Said'
Ben Franklin understood the need for secrecy in matters of national security. written by Pete du Pont
And that turns on the meanings (Congressional intent) of "go after" and "member of al Qaeda." IOW, is it "congressional authority" if the president steps outside of majority intent?
So it can't be illegal for something congress knew about also.
Sure "it" can. But at this point, we only have hints as to what "it" is, so the scope of speculation is quite large. Keep in mind the principle that courts can render opinions on government actions that are outside the law (not always finding the action to be unconstitutional), and inside the law (sometings finding the "legally/Congressionally authorized" action to be unconstitutional).
The term "illegal" is taken different ways by different listeners - some posters here take that to mean "violation of 4th amendment," for example.
Wouldn't the defendant have to be someone that was affected by this?
Plaintiff is the term for the person bringing the case, but yes - without being a target of surveillance, the party has no case. I don't think there needs to be a showing of "damages" in order to reach the conclusion that the party was affected. The government is forbidden to act outside of the Constitution - see removal of 1o Commandments from Judge Roy Moore's Courthouse, for example. Who had "damages?" Nobody, really. Yet the Courts found the display to be a violation of the 1st amendment and ordered it removed.
I don't think that they "don't" get it. I think to them it just "sounds" good.
I would ask next time to anyone that brings up the eavesdropping issue "how much money do you make?" How much did you donate last year to charity?" These are truly none of your business questions. So unless these same folks want to get all riled up about citizens having to give this information every year to the government, then I don't want to hear about collecting info on something to keep us all safe.
The question of the President's constitutional authority must inevitably wend its way to the Supreme Court, much the same as Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus did.
Statute of limitations is a notion that describes the interval betwen injury (in some jurisdictions, this is the time the injury was incurred, in others it is when the injured party became aware of the injury), and bringing of the lawsuit. A statute of limitations runs on a case-by-case basis - party by party.
Echelon and Carnivore are described in mire general terms as "NSA monitoring" in a few court cases that I've read, and no court has found the un-targeted gathering of signal to violate the 4th amendment.
See http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1550960/posts?page=26#26 and later posts (especially 35), as well as links back from there for one example.
The NSA intelligence gathering operation is described sufficiently for present purposes in Halkin, 598 F.2d at 4, as follows (footnote omitted):
A brief description of NSA and its functions is appropriate. NSA itself has no need for intelligence information; rather, it is a service organization which produces intelligence in response to the requirements of the Director of Central Intelligence. Intelligence Activities: Hearings Before the Select Comm. to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities of the U. S. Senate, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. Vol. V at 9 (1975) (Hearings). The mission of the NSA is to obtain intelligence from foreign electrical communications. Signals are acquired by many techniques. The process sweeps up enormous numbers of communications, not all of which can be reviewed by intelligence analysts. Using "watch-lists"-lists of words and phrases designed to identify communications of intelligence interest-NSA computers scan the mass of acquired communications to select those which may be of specific foreign intelligence interest. Only those likely to be of interest are printed out for further analysis, the remainder being discarded without reading or review. Intelligence analysts review each of the communications selected. The foreign intelligence derived from these signals is reported to the various agencies that have requested it (Hearings at 6). Only foreign communications are acquired, that is, communications having at least one foreign terminal (Hearings at 9).
I think there are links back to the Senate hearings from there, as well -- ahh, found it, http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1550146/posts.
How can any of them have standing to sue if it's not their "rights" that have been infringed? It seems that at least one of the groups would have to include someone who does talk to suspected terrorists abroad.
thanks for the link! I love reading Pete Du Pont.
No, only Bill Clinton has this authority, no one else. Sheesh, can't you tell when the country is falling apart? Quick, let's surrender like our RINO representatives.
From the article at the NYT - not quoted in the excerpts posted here:
"Two leading civil rights groups plan to file lawsuits Tuesday against the Bush administration over its domestic spying program to determine whether the operation was used to monitor 10 defense lawyers, journalists, scholars, political activists and other Americans with ties to the Middle East."
Note the question is IF these specific people WERE monitored. I THINK this means the suit is to determine if they (specific people - Hitchens apparently included) were monitored. Now Gore has just called for a Special Prosecutor. I think the attempt is going to be made to subpoena NSA records to see if these people were monitored.
Am I wrong?
But I also wonder how the fact that other Presidents have issued similar orders would factor in to a Court's decision to hear the case as a general violation of the 4th Amendment.
This is all politics. Many recent presidents, including Clinton, Reagan, Bush 1 and carter have used this power to conduct the same type of wiretype without court supervision or approval.
Many prominent legal and Constitutional scholars already acknowledge that Bush is within his rights as the POTUS.
These people are just laying the foundation for what is expected to be an impeachment attempt by the left later this year. We are simply witnesing the ugliest political infighting that has ever occurred in the history of the US. The danger here is that, depending on the amount of hyperbole, lies, bloviating and manipulation of the truth that is done by the left and their MSM handpuppets, we could well be witnessing the beginning of the end of our great Republic. The left would rather see America broken and divided into a gulag and a nation of free people with limited government, than give up these immature and dangerous attacks on the POTUS and the nation when we are at war.
You can always count on the ACLU to sue to weaken national security and advance their communist agenda.
The American people understand the issue and if some in the courts do rule against Bush, even though the new Supreme Court should rule for Bush, it would be a great opportunity to finally rid our system of those judicial activists. Remember federal judges can be impeached to and if they rule against our security I can see judges loosing their jobs because of the noise the people will make over this.
I'm not aware of any specific orders that reached outside of FISA, except for the warrantless physical entry into Aldrich Ames' home (FISA had no such provision at the time, it does have one now). The issue wasn't litigated, Ames' plead guilty. His lawyers planned to object to evidence gathered during that physical entry and search, BTW.
The fact that there is a body of cases isn't helpful to a putative plaintiff. Put yourself in there, could you bring a case? How do you know you were the target of surveillance? If there is a violation of the 4th amendment and the target isn't aware of it, is it really a violation?
So if I'm reading your other posts correctly, they set precedent for you saying this ACLU case and Hitchens case should be thrown out.
The posts I linked to outside of this thread don't discuss the notion of "standing."
I don't know the allegations made in the Hitchens and ACLU cases, and in this thread I am speculating that if the plaintiff doesn't allege (and later has to prove) that he was the target of warrantless surveillance, the case goes away - wrong plaintiff.
Otherwise, all anybody has to do is make some wacky claim in order to force the government to defend itself. Millions of surveillance suits - millions of "I was abducted" suits, etc. That doesn't mean nobody was abducted and held (see Padilla, Hamdan, Hamdi, etc.), just that abduction cases coming from people who haven't been can't be tolerated.
Methinks he's trying to get some judge to advocate a fishing expedition.
And I presume these folks can prove that their phones were wiretapped?
Possibly, it could be to provoke a judge to say "well if you don't want the spying, ask Congress to stop it."
If the complaint reads as the article says, the plaintifffs will lose on a motion for summary judgement. The courts will not pierce national security secrecy based on a published allegation.
ACLU, if AQ is calling you I want to know why? Oh, that's right you're defending them.
True -- if they catch such a call there's no guarantee someone will be able to listen to it in a timely manner. Especially if Qaeda sympathizers greatly step up the number of "suspicious" calls in an attempt to overwhelm the system.
Congress seems to want to be locked in non-issue debate until the next Presidential election.
Are these high-paid whiners going to do any work for the people who elected them, or are we facing periodic charges du jour by the insane democrats and agenda-driven groups to smear the republican party?
We didn't hire a debate team to lob insults on a regular basis - there is more to being a member of the legislature than introducing this junk we keep witnessing.
Stop the partisanship and get back to work. They are all campaigning for their next election process - gives them more press/air time and it is costing us - the taxpayers.
Unless one of the plaintiffs can show that his fourth amendment rights were violated, the courts won't touch this.
Besides, if the President actually believes he has the authority to ignore the law, then anything the courts say won't much matter anyway. All the courts can do is tell him to stop. Can't imagine he'd listen. Ultimately, this is a political question, and the remedy will have to be political. If enough people believe that he's crossed the impeachment line, then he'll be impeached. Certainly no lawsuit will stop him.
It's not that the government lacks the "time or resources" but that it arguably lacks the authority, absent probable cause. What the administration is claiming is that they can listen in, under the President's authority as CinC, to any message and decide, at their own discretion, whether to continue listening. This may or may not be a good thing in practice but it certainly removes the Presidency from the system of checks and balances.
A point I've made in a number of places is that Congress has the authority "To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces." Unless this is simply hollow rhetoric, this means the Congress controls the military. As a result, when the President assumes the role of CinC, he puts himself under Congress as the highest-ranking member of a subordinate military.
Since this is incompatible with the separation of powers, I further contend that CinC is in fact a separate position from President, with the only requirement for the job being that the person who is CinC must also be the person who is President. Because the job of CinC has less autonomy than the Presidency, and because its a different job than President, my final contention is that the assertion that functioning as CinC broadens the President's powers is, to use a technical term, hooey.
I know about the posting requirements. I missed Gore's speech. I'd take pause at what you mentioned also because it's a scare tactic which is how the left always makes its appeal, doesn't matter what's the issue. So Gore thinks because the war APPEARS to be in perpetuity we must limit the president's powers. Makes no sense. The President spelled it out very well as to the nature of the war. It would be long, fought on many fronts and those fronts were not all on the field of battle. If the Democrats (or anybody) wants to say something, I'll listen. Like Kerry-plan, I would have listened If he actually had one. He didn't. None of them do. Just throwing their lies to the media who sends them out to the echo chamber so they can get their votes in order to retain their glorious taxpayer funded lifestyle and perhaps seize power again so they can conspire more against the good people of this great nation.