Federal Judge Tosses Out Unlawful Surveillance Cases

gavel2The Obama Administration succeeded yesterday in getting three dozen public interest lawsuits dismissed against telecommunication companies. President Obama voted for the bill that gave the companies immunity and sought to prevent a court from declaring the warrantless surveillance program illegal. U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker also ordered investigations in Maine, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont and Missouri to be halted. However, he retained the issue of whether to sanction the Justice Department for its conduct in the case.

The dismissal of these cases should make people cringe next time President Obama or members of Congress say that they believe the courts should resolve constitutional questions. For much of the controversy under the Bush Administration, people like General Michael Hayden insisted that the program was clearly lawful despite the congressional testimony of many of us who called it a federal crime. However, once the issue was actually put in front of a federal court, both President Bush and President Obama pushed to take courts from ruling.
The lingering dispute with the Justice Department centers on a document accidentally turned over to the legal team of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation in 2004 that allegedly show illegal interceptions. Walker ruled that that Al-Haramain’s lawyers were to be given access to the document since they had provided enough public government disclosures to support their eavesdropping claims. The Obama Administration expanded on the state secrets filings to stop such disclosure and even threatened to remove the document from the court docket.

For the opinion, click here.

For the full story, click here.

28 thoughts on “Federal Judge Tosses Out Unlawful Surveillance Cases”

  1. Jill,

    Where else could we find a few good, real lawyers to read and explain dry, arcane legal opinions and then throw in a good laugh now and then…

    Mike A. Of course Clyde, the camel from the Ahab the Arab song of our teenaged years of the 60s, would have borrowed Ahab’s gal pal Fatima’s jewelry to be pimped out with:

    “Rings on his fingers, and Bells on his toes, and a Bone in his Nose, Ho Ho”.

    And remember that no animal could keep up with Clyde runnin’ across the burning sands..

    That is why I got a good laugh because that is the image that flashed before my eyes at your comment…I liked novelty songs as a kid.


    On Topic, we need Ahab the Arab to get his fellow muslim Obama back to walkin’ ‘n talkin’ the straight progressive camel talk ‘n walk and then a swift Clyde camel kick in his rear if he don’t quit acting like a Republican crook.

  2. Mike A.,

    I really appreciate your legal analysis and also comments about pimped camels, which put me on the floor!!!

  3. Jill, I will try to respond to your comments. I have read the opinion (more accurately, I have waded through it-it’s pretty dry stuff). My unhappiness with the opinion is both legal and political. On the political side, upholding the statute effectively rewards wrongdoing by both the telecoms and Congress. On the legal side, I still believe the law is unconstitutional. However, it will be necessary for the Supreme Court to say so.

    Not all statutes which are retroactively effective are unconstitutional. Generally, a distinction has been made between statutes which affect vested rights and those which do not. In this case I believe that the statute is unconstitutional because it eliminates claims that were perfected prior to the law’s taking effect. By that I mean that the right to sue under the FISA statute became complete before the amendment. The legal claim (technically, a cause of action) became vested in the plaintiffs. I view a cause of action as a property right which has value.

    I also agree with Ron P. that it is increasingly frustrating to watch progressive hopes dashed one at a time.

  4. Before I assert my disappointment with Obama, let me say, what his administration will bring to the country is still 180 degrees in the positive direction, in contrast to Bush. That being said, liberals like myself, were disappointed, and disgusted, when then Senator Obama voted for the telecommunication’s companies position, and, we’ll be disappointed many more times in the next, hopefully eight years of the Obama presidency. He’s Bill Clinton-left. A master politician, who creates the right image for all Democrats, true Republicans, and independents to positively identify with most of the time, but, disappoints more times than I want to think about. But where do I go? Obama knows liberals have no place to go. We have to applaud the overall positive things he’ll do for the country,and, hold our noses when he disappoints us. Of course, he’s only been in office around five months. The overall record of achievement and disappointment still has a long way to go. From a civil libertarian perspective, I am having a very difficulty time stomaching what I am seeing and hearing from this administration. It definitely will affect the amount of campaign money I’ll contribute in 2012.

  5. (202) 456-1111

    White House Phone Number above. A call to ones Senators and congress persons is also in order. I’m calling.

  6. Good, law-abiding, patriotic Americans are currently under surveillance, homes are being entered surreptitiously, and personal items stolen and vandalized. (It’s going on all across this country, apparently.) There is never any evidence and when the victim makes a complaint to the police, he or she is labeled “crazy, paranoid and/or delusional.”

    As some may recall, Martha Mitchell was dismissed as “delusional”, when she complained about wide-scale corruption in the Nixon administration. There are reports that these practices have been with us for years, but appear to have increased dramatically within the past few years.

    One can only speculate as to what is motivating these crimes, but the outlook is grim and kafkaesque for its victims. Someone who is in a position of power and knows about these domestic surveillance operations needs to have a crisis of conscience, step up to the plate and bring this madness to light. If these practices continue, we are all in peril.

  7. Our new commander in Afghanistan was involved in torture as well. I must repete that evil flourishes when good people remain silent. I’m less concerned about Obama’s actions than the silence of the left. Obama is a politician and he will turn around should enough people oppose his actions. But there is a mindset that if Obama does it, it must be acceptable. This is dangerous.

    Also, wasn’t there a ruling from the SC within the last month that declared a law unconstitutional because it was made retroactively? If this is so, why isn’t the above telecom bill unconstitutional as well?

  8. Buddah:
    I find myself shaking my head and saying,what the H#$% is going on here.Its like a bait and switch philsophy.

  9. The Obama administration reviewed this argument and agreed with it. The argument in this case goes beyond what even Bush claimed regarding state secrects. I know that when Bush’s DOJ argued against the charity and for state secrets there were many people on this blog who spoke out against this as a miscarriage of justice. Bush’s DOJ was seen as engaging in dangerous, anti-Constitutional behavior. I am wondering where these same people are now. The silence is disconcerting. There are so many things wrong with what Obama is claiming in this case that it’s difficult to lay them all out. I guess I would like to hear from people who used to think this was wrong under Bush as to why it has changed into “right” under Obama. It worries me that people will not speak out. The abuse of state secrets and expanded claims of executive power has not brought good to this nation. While the ruling does leave open the possibility of suing the govt., I am here asking the question as to how people feel about the argument for domestic spying, greater excutive power and the expansion of state secrets being argued by the Obama administration.


    I bet they’ll be a whole lot of tasing goin’ on in TX.

  10. Jill and others,

    Cindy Sheehan will protest at Bush’s Dallas Home in the exclusive Preston Hollow subdivision. It will start at 4:30 pm. next Monday. attendee are asked to show up at the Preston-Royal Shopping Center and walk to the home on Daria Place. I might add that is a hell of a long walk.

    I assure you, you will have the best surveillance and security that money can buy.

    Come on Down, the price is right.

  11. How much more “patience”? Hm? When will We the People march on K Street and burn it to the ground?

  12. However, he retained the issue of whether to sanction the Justice Department for its conduct in the case.

    The dismissal of these cases should make people cringe next time President Obama or members of Congress say that they believe the courts should resolve constitutional questions.
    Trial 101, never ask the question you don’t already know the answer to.

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