An article at Findlaw.com discusses today’s news: a federal judge in Michigan has ruled that the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and violates numerous federal laws.
Today’s decision is a powerful and sweeping indictment of the Bush Administration’s practice of ignoring laws and the Constitution when it doesn’t suit their vision of what presidential power is. The decision of the judge focuses on the fact that there are laws governing how to get wiretaps, and the Bush Administration has brazenly and willfully ignored them.
The judge also rejected the administration’s claim that the case should be thrown out because it involves “state secrets.” In rejecting that claim, the judge pointed out that she didn’t need to see a single secret thing to review whether they’d followed applicable laws and constitutional processes.
Attorney General and torture memo guy, Alberto Gonzales, said in a press conference today that he had documents in his office safe that would show why the warrantless wiretapping is both necessary and legal. As my friend and old law school prof Jonathan Turley said tonight on Countdown: “Unless he’s got a federal authorizing statute in that safe, it’s irrelevant.”
Here are some juicy quotes from the decision, as reported by CNN.com :
The defendants “are permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly utilizing the Terrorist Surveillance Program in any way, including, but not limited to, conducting warrantless wiretaps of telephone and Internet communications, in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Title III,” she wrote.
She declared that the program “violates the separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III.”
Her ruling went on to say that “the president of the United States … has undisputedly violated the Fourth in failing to procure judicial orders.”
The decision can be read here.
Of course the Bush Administration is appealing the decision.