Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Big Brother In Court: One Size Fits All

Photo: Washington Post

In a totalitarian state arriving here in the near future, that is.

Yeah, you know it, you know it: Demon Princess is a dyed-in-the-wool thought criminal, endlessly raging against the Brave New World.

In today’s news, we finally get around to addressing a topic that really gets her fires stoked: challenges to the legality of President Bush’s warrantless spying. Two court cases are bubbling over on the topic, one brought by the ACLU & an affiliated group, and another brought by the Center for Consititutional Rights in New York state.

And at the same time, Congress is entertaining legislation to make the program legal, although there are already laws in place--very liberal ones from the government’s point of view, too---but Bushco hasn’t even bothered to observe them.

Arguments in the Detroit case were heard today, after the judge, a ballsy woman, refused to unilaterally shut down the case, as the government demanded, on the basis of the “state secrets” doctrine. In other words, the government tried keep her from looking into it at all, wanted her to go no further & take it for a fact on their mere say-so that state secrets would be involved.

“On May 31, Taylor rebuffed the government's contention that she had to consider the ‘state secrets’ issue before considering anything else. She said she would consider the ACLU's motion today, and scheduled a July 10 hearing on the government's motion.

“Justice Department lawyers filed a new motion June 2 asking the judge to clarify her order and to once again consider their arguments on standing and 'state secrets' before considering any other issue. Taylor is expected to respond at today's hearing.

“If the plaintiffs overcome the government's argument, it will be highly unusual. Justice Department attorneys almost always prevail when they invoke the ‘state secrets’ privilege, even when judges acknowledge a plaintiff raises serious issues.”

I’m tellin’ ya, there’s a slippery slope! Every time the most secretive administration in the country’s history—bar none, including Nixon’s--wants to hide something from the people who elected them, after all, they want us to take it on faith that there are “state secrets” involved. And look no further. It’s a fantasy that only Dick Cheney could have dreamed up.

When Big Brother tells us no legal suit will be tolerated because state secrets are involved—besides the fact that anything can be hidden behind that loose designation, & that's for as long as state actors don’t want you to know what they're doing--and moreover, we won’t even allow you to look & see whether there really are legitimate state secrets involved--does spying on & monitoring the communications of people may who just disagree with what they say is official state policy qualify?--well, good people of America, that’s a very dangerous recipe for a the imminence of a totalitarian state.

The case is going ahead, as the Los Angeles Times reports here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-spying12jun12,1,4878727.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

The government made the same argument in the New York case, but the judge also didn’t buy it, as below.

The New York suit is brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has had some previous experience with these matters. They have previously brought illegal Presidential actions to heel with a suit that established the illegality of warrantless domestic surveillance by the Nixon Administration in a 1972 landmark Supreme Court case.

“On May 27, 2006 the Justice Department moved to preempt the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) challenge to warrantless domestic surveillance by invoking the ‘state secrets privilege,’ a rare doctrine established by the Supreme Court in 1953 to protect certain privileged government information. The Bush Administration is arguing that CCR’s case could reveal secrets regarding U.S. national security, and thus the presiding judge must dismiss it without reviewing the evidence.

"The Bush Administration is trying to crush a very strong case against domestic
spying without any evidence or argument. This is a mysterious and undemocratic request, since the administration says the reason the court is being asked to drop the case is a secret.

A spokeperson said, “I think it's a clear choice: can the President tell the courts which cases they can rule on?’

’If so, the courts will never be able to hold the President accountable for breaking the law. If the Executive Branch can secretly quash legal challenges to its conduct like this, then American democracy as we know it is in danger,’ said Shayana Kadidal, a CCR staff attorney on CCR v. Bush. Mr. Kadidal also rebutted the administration's claims about secret information at stake in the case: ‘Our filings demonstrate the spying program is illegal by citing public evidence, such as statements by President Bush and General Hayden, not secret government documents.’

“The government's filing came in response to CCR's motion for summary judgment, which was filed on March 9, 2006. Contending that the administration had already admitted enough incriminating facts to prove the NSA Program is illegal, CCR's motion requested an injunction to bar the government from continuing the spying program. It also pressed for disclosure of whether the government eavesdropped on confidential attorney client communications.

"’Instead of addressing the crime of spying on millions of Americans, the Bush Administration is trying to prevent judicial oversight of its illegal conduct. Spying on Americans without warrants is against the law and it violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution. The fact is that President Bush broke the law, defied Congress and now he is defying the courts by demanding this case be dropped in secret’ said CCR Legal Director Bill Goodman. ‘We will continue fighting to protect Americans' constitutional rights,’ he added.

“CCR is preparing a detailed reply to the government's invocation of state secrets privilege. The Center will emphasize that there are several other established methods to protect confidential information, such as closed court proceedings or filing briefs under seal.

The Bush Administration has invoked the state secrets privilege more than any other administration in history, including recent cases involving domestic spying, rendition, torture and government misconduct.”

And meanwhile, about the diastrous, spineless legislation on its way from Arlen Specter’s office: well, seems that efforts to exercise Congressional oversight have only ended up being a license to spy, thanks to other Republicans on the Committee involved, & Dick Cheney’s refusal to co-operate. Mind you, Congress can’t even get a straight answer about all the spying programs in place, & they think they can exercise oversight?

Both the Washington Post & the New York Times have pointed out what a disaster it is.
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/11/opinion/11sun1.html?ex=1150776000&en=70c440a2dd1f65fd&ei=5070&emc=eta1

WaPo: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/11/AR2006061100713.html

Cafferty video:

If all of this outrages you (and it should), take a tour around the ACLU page here, demand that the government not spy on you, & by the way, be sure to view the “pizza delivery” spot to see a plausible view of things to come if “total information awareness” advocates have their way.

Big Brother’s Pizza Delivery: http://action.aclu.org/site/PageServer?pagename=AP_action_homepage


Blogger MHB said...

The more things change the more they stay the same... see The Recording Angels from more than 50 years ago in this cartoon...

8:27 PM  
Blogger Demon Princess said...

Great cartoon, deserving of its own post! Thanks, MBH!

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snake Hunters said:

What do you fellows think about
that Grand Ayatollah Khomeini?

How do you feel about a religion
that promises virgins to young
Shaheed Martyrs?

And, how about those WMD's?
Mass graves? Uday & Qusay?

How about John Kerry, Teddy, and
Dennis Kucinich?

Just curious.


4:29 PM  
Blogger Demon Princess said...

Dude, if you've been reading here, I'm arguing that there's a legal way, always has been a legal way to get information on terrorists that doesn't require all these "state secrets" shenanigans, but you've gone histrionically off-topic, conflating EVERYTHING Bushco does with what you've apparently bought into as the Bush formulation of the eternal war on terror. And enjoying it greatly, I daresay.


Is it inconceivable to you that good, moral Americans AREN'T defending the jihaddists? Just the American way of life (fast disappearing). That's not a mutually exclusive proposition, BTW.

Cogitate & get back to me when you have something constructive to add to the conversation. Or go back to watching Fox.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Demon Princess said...

Oh, I forgot to add:

WHAT WMD's? The imaginary ones, or the pathetic shreds of neutralized-by-time shreds that that one Republicon idiot was trotting out as "evidence" recently. He's doing more damage to your cause than you realize.

6:03 PM  

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