UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

April 8, 2009

OBAMA GOES BEYOND BUSH IN SUPPORT OF ILLEGAL WIRETAPS

Raw Story - In a stunning defense of President George W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, President Barack Obama has broadened the government's legal argument for immunizing his administration and government agencies from lawsuits surrounding the National Security Agency's eavesdropping efforts.

In fact, a close read of a government filing reveals that the Obama Administration has gone beyond any previous legal claims put forth by former President Bush.

Responding to a lawsuit filed by a civil liberties group, the Justice Department argued that the government was protected by "sovereign immunity" from lawsuits because of a little-noticed clause in the Patriot Act.

For the first time, the Obama Administration's brief contends that government agencies cannot be sued for wiretapping American citizens even if there was intentional violation of US law. They maintain that the government can only be sued if the wiretaps involve "willful disclosure" -- a higher legal bar.

Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suing the government over the warrantless wiretapping program, notes that the government has previously argued that the government had "sovereign immunity" against civil action under the FISA statute. But he says that this is the first time that they've invoked changes to the Patriot Act in claiming the US government is immune from claims of illegal spying under any other federal surveillance statute.

Salon columnist and constitutional scholar Glenn Greenwald -- who is generally supportive of progressive interpretations of the law -- says the Obama Administration has "invented a brand new claim" of immunity from spying litigation.

"In other words, beyond even the outrageously broad 'state secrets' privilege invented by the Bush administration and now embraced fully by the Obama administration, the Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and -- even if what they're doing is blatantly illegal and they know it's illegal -- you are barred from suing them unless they 'willfully disclose' to the public what they have learned," Greenwald wrote.

1 Comments:

Blogger m said...

Bush44

April 9, 2009 8:08 AM  

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