by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 27th 2009 4:06am
We've covered the Al-Haramain case for a while, as it's the one case where there's actual evidence of a party being the subject of warrantless wiretaps by the administration. So far, the judge has continued to allow the case to go forward despite objections from both the previous administration and the current one. On Friday, the judge in the case got angry enough to scold the administration for failing to obey court orders related to the case and continuing to make arguments that had already been rejected. As such, the judge appears to be considering a sanction prohibiting the government from opposing liability for such warrantless wiretaps. This whole situation continues to baffle me. There's absolutely no reason why the federal government should need a warrantless wiretap, unless it knows that it has no probable cause and simply wants to spy on people for the sake of spying. If it had a real reason to wiretap, it could get a warrant. If it was urgent, wiretap laws have given the government a window to ask for a warrant immediately after setting up the wiretap. There's no reasonable explanation for denying the basic checks and balances to avoid abuse, and it's disappointing that both administrations have continued to try to avoid any discussion over the matter, and are improperly framing it as a matter of national security for which they don't need to answer.
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