Skip to comments.Telecom Companies Win Dismissal of Wiretap Suits
Posted on 06/03/2009 8:09:52 PM PDT by reaganaut1
A federal judge on Wednesday threw out more than three dozen lawsuits claiming that the nations major telecommunications companies had illegally assisted in the wiretapping without warrants program approved by President George W. Bush after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker of Federal District Court in Northern California said that although consumer and privacy groups raised important constitutional issues in their claims, Congress had left no doubt about its unequivocal intention when it passed a measure last summer giving immunity to phone carriers in the wiretapping program.
The ruling represents a major victory not only for AT&T and other carriers, which faced potential damages of billions of dollars if they lost the cases, but also for intelligence officials in Washington who had fought assertively in their defense. Officials from both the Bush and the Obama administrations maintained that the cooperation of the phone companies has been vital to national security and that penalizing them for their participation would jeopardize important surveillance operations.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs, led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy and civil liberties group, said they would appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The groups argued that the lawsuits were one of the few means available for the public to gain important information about the underpinnings of the wiretapping program, which allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without court warrants on the international communications of Americans suspected of links to Al Qaeda.
They also argued that Congress had acted unconstitutionally, essentially taking over a role reserved for the courts in deciding the legal liability of the phone companies over accusations that they had violated the privacy rights of their customers.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
It took this long for that to happen???
The Dems, including Sen. Obama I believe, fought this tooth and nail. So glad to see this.