Appeals Court Allows 'Classified, But Leaked' Evidence To Be Used In Warrantless Wiretap Case

from the good-news-for-justice dept

We've covered the ridiculous hoops the gov't made people go through to prove that a document that the gov't itself leaked could be used in a trial to prove that the gov't was wiretapping people without warrants. Despite all the hurdles, a court ruled that the document could, in fact, be used. Some had hoped that, after the Obama administration took over, it would stop trying to kill this particular case, but that didn't happen. In fact, the Obama administration made the same claims as before, and continued to appeal the ruling. However, an appeals court has shot the administration down and allowed the document to be used. The government, of course, will likely appeal.

The whole situation still seems ridiculous. In business, if a confidential document is made public, and many people have seen it, it's no longer considered confidential. Yet, here, even though many, many people have seen the document outlining the warrantless wiretapping, the gov't still wants to pretend that it's totally secret -- in part, because it doesn't want its warrantless wiretapping program tested in court. This case is very important from a civil liberties perspective, because previous attempts to get a court to weigh in on such warrantless wiretaps failed -- due to the fact that, without specific evidence that one of the parties filing the lawsuit was actually wiretapped without a warrant, they had no standing to sue.

Every time we write about this case, we get angry comments from people claiming that we should shut up and this case should go away because the gov't needs to protect us from terrorists. I have no doubt that the gov't does, in fact, need to do quite a lot of work every single day to help protect us from those who want to kill Americans. But, there is a legal process for that, and it involves getting warrants if you want to wiretap someone. The process of getting a warrant is not hard. In fact, if you need a wiretap in a rush and can't wait for the warrant, you can go ahead with the wiretap and then go back afterwards to get the warrant. This is an important check on the ability of the gov't to spy on its citizens, and it makes sure the process is not abused (as it has been in the past). It's difficult to see how anyone who actually believes in the right to a free society could support a gov't's ability to spy on folks without any check on that power. Hopefully this case does move forward, and the rule of law is upheld where it concerns getting a warrant before wiretapping someone within this country.
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Filed Under: al-harmain, obama, warrantless wiretap


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  1. identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, 28 Feb 2009 @ 10:38pm

    Case on warrantless wiretapping

    Right on, Michael! I totally agree with you!
    I will point out, though, that the GOP is still able to gum things up if Obama "pulls a W" and ignores the other side.
    I wonder how much of the administration continuing the case is an accommodation of radical Republicans (assuming there are moderate Republicans - well, maybe McCain).
    If the answer is that this is what Obama wants, we have been betrayed; but I don't think that is the case.

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