Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

U.S. Government Intervenes in EFF vs. AT&T 463

An anonymous reader writes "Reuters is reporting that the US government has 'filed a motion on Saturday to intervene and seek dismissal of a lawsuit by a civil liberties group against AT&T Inc. over a federal program to monitor U.S. communications.' More from the article: " In its motion seeking intervention, posted on the court's Web site, the government said the interests of the parties in the lawsuit "may well be in the disclosure of state secrets" in their effort to present their claims or defenses ... A hearing is scheduled for June 21 before federal Judge Vaughn Walker." You may recall a few weeks ago when the DOJ asked the judge to dismiss the case. They've now taken the next step required to quash this legal action.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

U.S. Government Intervenes in EFF vs. AT&T

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:48PM (#15326537)
    welcome our new, government-inconveniencing-case-dismissing overlords.
  • Lawsuits (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Smarty2120 ( 776415 ) *
    Lawsuits are as American as Apple Pie and Baseball.
    When you can't sue anyone and everyone who has done or is doing anything you don't like, the terrorists have won.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Last I checked there were three suits pending on this exact issue, and the EFF suit was just one of them. Surely the executive can't brush off all of them.

    Anyway I doubt they'll get their motion. While congressmen can be bought off and Supreme Court justices can be replaced, I see no reason why a normal civil court judge would roll over and abdicate his authority just because the executive branch is whining that they don't want oversight by other branches of government.
    • Supreme Court justices can only be replaced when they die or choose to retire. The government has no control over them once they're appointed, as it should be.
    • The NSA has also refused to grant investigators the needed security clearances. As such I believe at least one of the other cases has been dropped, as without access to any of the NSA's information on the subject they can't go any further. More stonewalling.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 13, 2006 @06:38PM (#15326743)
      Yup. The executive branch can commit all kinds of fraud which the courts will constitute a "political question" because they could not undertake independent resolution of the issues "without expressing lack of the respect due a coordinate branches of government." There's an enlightening discussion in US v. Stahl, 792 F.2d 1438 (9th Cir. 1986).
    • by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Saturday May 13, 2006 @06:41PM (#15326755) Homepage

      Don't be so sure. What the government is doing is not something that the Bush administration just came up with. It is doctrine with long-standing in Anglo-American law called the State Secrets Doctrine and it has been successfully invoked in the past, including the very recent past. Only a year ago it was successfully invoked to terminate the whistleblower retaliation lawsuit by Sibel Edmonds [], the former translator for the FBI who revealed incompetance and security breaches. The way it is supposed to work is that the head of the relevant agency (by law the only person who can invoke the doctrine) certifies to the court that continuation of the case would require the disclosure of information damaging to national security. The courts give great deference to such certification.

      Even an advocate of open government such as myself can see reasons for having such a doctrine. Suppose that a deep cover agent of the US, who is providing critical intelligence about a hostile foreign power, cheats somebody in a business transaction. The person cheated sues. It could easily be the case that the information disclosed in the course of the suit would make the agent look suspicious. In a case like this, there would be a legitimate reason for the government to want to put a stop to the lawsuit. (One would of course expect the government to assume the financial burden for its action and compensate the injured party, but that's a different issue.)

      The problem is that the doctrine relies on the truthfulness of the certification that national security would be damaged if the suit were to proceed. It assumes that he or she is telling the truth in claiming that the damage would really be to national security rather than embaressment to government officials or disclosure of their criminal activities. It also assumes that there isn't a workaround, e.g. limitations on certain evidence, requirement that evidence be seen only by attorneys with security clearance, in camera review of evidence by the judge, so that the only way to prevent the damage is putting an end to the lawsuit.

      Unfortunately, it isn't safe to assume that agency heads will certify truthfully. That is particularly true of this administration. I say that not just on grounds of the unusually high levels of dishonesty and and self-serving hallucination in this administration but because we have strong reasons to believe that they have repeatedly lied about security issues. There are the bald-faced lie that the US does not countenance torture, the lies about the reasons for invading Iraq, and the laughable rationalization for warrantless surveillance. They have repeatedly made the bizarre claim that the disclosure of warrantless surveillance itself damaged national security. How could that POSSIBLY be? It told nobody anything about the US's surveillance capabilities, how it is done, or who is targetted. The only thing that was disclosed was that they are not getting warrants. As far as I can see, the only way in which this could lead to a security problem would be if the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had a leak, so that terrorist organizations were falsely assumin that they knew when they were under surveillance. The Bush administration hasn't come up with any explanation for how this disclosure could have security implications - they just yammer about it loudly and hope that nobody will notice what a crock this is.

      I hope that the EFF and other plaintiffs in these suits will be able to persuade the courts to require an offer of proof from the government. Unfortunately, I am concerned that they will not succeed in this, due to the dangerous and undemocratic, but established tradition of deference the government in such cases.

      • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <tms AT infamous DOT net> on Saturday May 13, 2006 @07:03PM (#15326847) Homepage
        In a case like this, there would be a legitimate reason for the government to want to put a stop to the lawsuit.

        Just because the government has a legitimate reason (from its POV) to want something, doesn't mean it can legitimately have it.

        There's no power under the Constitution to quash lawsuits based on vague claims of "national security". Yes, there is a longstanding tradition of allowing it; that doesn't make it right or legal (understanding the Constitution as "law of the land" to have priority over misbegotten case law).

      • by Gorshkov ( 932507 ) <AdmiralGorshkov&gmail,com> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @07:45AM (#15329045)
        THANK you - that was one of the few informative posts in this entire thread. Somebody mod parent up.

        Here in Canada, in a case like this, the judge has the power to require the state to disclose the information to HIM, so he can rule on the validity of the secret status of whatever the hell it is.

        It's implied in your post that that's not the case in the states - is that true?
    • The thing I find worrying with this case is that (to me at least, as someone in the UK) it seems to be of major importance, yet is not being reported on the BBC's news site. I don't watch TV, so have no idea if it's been shown there...
  • Duuuuh! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:51PM (#15326553)
    Guess what, the feds want the judges to approve their snooping and silence anyone daring to oppose it.

    In a free country, the judges would give the government the proverbial finger and go ahead with the case. Let's see how it turns up in the US.
    • Re:Duuuuh! (Score:4, Informative)

      by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @06:00PM (#15326596)
      Guess what, the feds want the judges to approve their snooping and silence anyone daring to oppose it.

      The problem is that the judges aren't even being asked to approve it. The Executive branch is just going ahead and doing it because they're afraid the Judicial branch might say "No."
      • Re:Duuuuh! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by einhverfr ( 238914 )
        The state secrets doctrine is a fairly reasonable principle in certain cases. However, the core issues here are relating to Constitutional issues of Executive authority, judicial oversight, etc. I don't think that it is reasonable to allow the Executive to use the State Secret to prevent these important questions from being answered.
  • Ya, fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mikesd81 ( 518581 ) <> on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:52PM (#15326560) Homepage
    In its motion seeking intervention, posted on the court's Web site, the government said the interests of the parties in the lawsuit "may well be in the disclosure of state secrets" in their effort to present their claims or defenses ... A hearing is scheduled for June 21 before federal Judge Vaughn Walker."

    If I interpre this right...they want the case dismissed because it will discose state secrets? So it's okay to violate civil liberties and then get away with it because to defend it would hinder state security? Well what about my security? Hell what about my RIGHTS? Next to make a phone call you'll have to requisition phone time giving information like: number you're calling, receiving party, topic conversation.
    • Re:Ya, fair (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @06:23PM (#15326687) Homepage Journal
      its odd that a state secret can be known/shared by a non-state organization that has no special security clearance AFAIK. And several of them...

      Hopefully this will be laughed out of court like so many others.

      Just highlights the fact that the fight for freedom never ends. the CIA would act like the KGB if they could. Same with any other government entity.
      • "freedom requires eternal vigilance" or how that quote goes. something tells me the orginial speaker had as much internal as external threats in mind.

        and no, im not a US citizen...
      • Re:Ya, fair (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lawpoop ( 604919 )
        We don't know that the NSA was telling anyone at AT&T what it was doing or how it was going to use the information. It could be that the case filed requests information from the NSA that the NSA never shared with AT&T in the first place. Even if the NSA only told a few AT&T executives, that's still better than having *everyone* know in public court documents.

        However, can't court records be sealed for cases like this?

        "Just highlights the fact that the fight for freedom never ends. the CIA wou
        • Re:Ya, fair (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Vicks007 ( 833974 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @09:11PM (#15327383)
          There are other ways to ensure the political compliance of the intelligence community. It's funny you should mention the CIA; in the wake of Porter Goss's resignation, Sidney Blumenthal wrote a piece for Spiegel Online that can be found at,15 18,415638,00.html [] which discussed the recent history of the agency. Rather than stacking it with loyalists, the current administration is attempting to gut the CIA and transfer the lion's share of its duties to the Pentagon. The current culture of the U.S. armed forces is much more amenable to the administration's agenda than CIA could ever be, and whatever civics training that its personnel have matters little in face of their adherence to the chain of command.

          In reality, the administration has very nearly accomplished the objective you allude to, i.e. the elimination of whatever respect for the rights of Americans that the intelligence community still has. They have simply been more clever about it. The Spiegel article makes clear that these actions are very serious; I can only hope that the backlash you speak of will actually become manifest.
          • ...military control is one way of gutting the CIA for the purpose of subverting intelligence operations that may uncover truths that are "inconvenient" for the current adminstration. The military, with its strict hierarchy and narrow focus, is much less likely to have access to the kind of independent thinking and breadth of expertise that is necessary for extracting the truth from a set of conflicting accounts, observations and intepretations of events. Transferring intel analysis to the DoD will make it
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:55PM (#15326573) Journal
    the carpet, that will be exactly when the citizens of the US will know that big brother is watching, and Mr. Orwell was right. Its time for all US citizens (and now EU citizens) to make such matters of privacy a voter issue. Ask your current representatives how they stand on such issues, ask all prospective candidates, and then vote with your privacy in mind on the upcoming, and every subsequent election.

    If you are not sure how to find out some of that information, go to
  • by BalanceOfJudgement ( 962905 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:59PM (#15326588) Homepage
    Only a dictatorship would take steps to prevent anyone from knowing if their rights were being violated.

    If Mr. Bush is so sure of his assertion that nobody's rights are being trampled and that all of his Executive Orders approving these actions are legal, then he shouldn't be afraid for these actions to face the rule of law.

    But then, the administration knows full well that none of this will stand up to a legal challenge.

    You are witnessing the actions of a dictatorial administration consumed with the belief in its own superiority and its own place above the law. Bush believes that as President, he can do anything he wants without regard to the law; he believes himself to be invinceable.

    Unfortunately, as Congress and the courts stand now, he's right.
    • Only a dictatorship would take steps to prevent anyone from knowing if their rights were being violated.

      Because you had any doubts before writing this?

      Quite frankly, with the way the constitution is being used as toilet paper, and the imperialistic ways the US is behaving with abroad, I really think the United States is quite comparable to 1933 Gernamy. This has been going on for a very long time, since the end of WW2 in fact, but I think it's now that we're seeing America turn into a full-blown dictatorshi
      • by whathappenedtomonday ( 581634 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @06:27PM (#15326699) Journal
        I feel an urge to repost this.

        The 14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism by Dr. Lawrence Britt

        Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14-defining characteristics common to each:

        1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
        2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
        3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
        4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
        5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
        6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
        7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
        8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
        9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
        10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
        11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
        12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
        13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
        14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other t

        • Rather Misleading (Score:3, Informative)

          by James Lewis ( 641198 )
          I wish people would be quicker to question the things they see posted by random people on the internet. This post was modded up very quickly, with only one reply which says, "Can I put this in my sig?". If you were to do 5 minutes of googling you would find that this is from an article written by a Laurence Britt, for the magazine "Free Inquiry". The original article can be found on their website here []. Notice that it is a Laurence Britt, not a "Dr. Lawrence Britt". The article has also been modified. Furthe
        • by Shawn is an Asshole ( 845769 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @11:27PM (#15327836)
          This is the lyrics to Anti-Flag's "Anatomy Of Your Enemy" which was on their 2002 release "Mobilize" (btw, pick up the recently released "For Blood and Empire", awesome cd...):

          10 easy steps to create an enemy and start a war:
          Listen closely because we will all see this weapon used in our lives.
          It can be used on a society of the most ignorant to the most highly educated.
          We need to see their tactics as a weapon against humanity and not as truth.

          First step: create the enemy. Sometimes this will be done for you.

          Second step: be sure the enemy you have chosen is nothing like you.
          Find obvious differences like race, language, religion, dietary habits
          fashion. Emphasize that their soldiers are not doing a job,
          they are heartless murderers who enjoy killing!

          Third step: Once these differences are established continue to reinforce them
          with all disseminated information.

          Fourth step: Have the media broadcast only the ruling party's information
          this can be done through state run media.
          Remember, in times of conflict all for-profit media repeats the ruling party's information.
          Therefore all for-profit media becomes state-run.

          Fifth step: show this enemy in actions that seem strange, militant, or different.
          Always portray the enemy as non-human, evil, a killing machine.


          Sixth step: Eliminate opposition to the ruling party.
          Create an "Us versus Them" mentality. Leave no room for opinions in between.
          One that does not support all actions of the ruling party should be considered a traitor.

          Seventh step: Use nationalistic and/or religious symbols and rhetoric to define all actions.
          This can be achieved by slogans such as "freedom loving people versus those who hate freedom."
          This can also be achieved by the use of flags.

          Eighth step: Align all actions with the dominant deity.
          It is very effective to use terms like, "It is god's will" or "god bless our nation."

          Ninth step: Design propaganda to show that your soldiers
          have feelings, hopes, families, and loved ones.
          Make it clear that your soldiers are doing a duty; they do not want or like to kill.

          Tenth step: Create and atmosphere of fear, and instability
          and then offer the ruling party as the only solutions to comfort the public's fears.
          Remembering the fear of the unknown is always the strongest fear.

          [Chorus (repeat)]

          We are not countries. We are not nations. We are not religions.
          We are not gods. We are not weapons. We are not ammunition. We are not killers.
          We will NOT be tools.

          Mother fuckers
          I will not die
          I will not kill
          I will not be your slave
          I will not fight your battle
          I will not die on your battlefield
          I will not fight for your wealth
          I am not a fighter
          I am a human being!!!
      • I've read up a little on Germany of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Some of the parallels between current America and Germany after 1933 are frightening. Anyone who does not believe me might do well to read up on the subject.

        One further one just struck me recently, both Hitler and Bush want to reshape the world according to a masterplan, with their nation as the leading agent and example of change. Isn't that the real reason the US went into Iraq? Some sort of reverse domino effect, spreading democracy throughout t
  • Government tells government's courts that it didn't break the law. Government agrees. Film at 11.

    • It echoes the usual anarchist objection to government. You want a government to protect you? But from whom? Isn't the government itself the biggest and most common aggressor? How can it possibly protect you against itself? Even the most high minded attempt to wall off the judiciary will fail; after all, who's paying their salary?

      This anarchist says: anyone who gives it some thought will recognise that law is separate from government, and that law came first. Government wants to control the courts in order t
  • by coolhelperguy ( 698466 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @06:04PM (#15326614)
    Text of motion: Government's Motion to Dismiss, or for Summary Judgment [] [PDF, 1.8M]

    EFF's page on the case: []
  • by pbailey ( 225135 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @06:07PM (#15326623)
    I'm not an American, so this is just my $0.02, but to those of you that are, your government seems to be taking away more and more of your civil liberties. America is supposed to be the land of the free, etc. etc. I think it is time that American government representatives were reminded of this - specially with elections coming up. They will do anything to remain in power. If you all tell them you are not going to put up with this kind of BS, then maybe they will stand up for you.

    If everyone is silent, one day it will be too late. Speak up in unison to keep rights you have fought for over the past 200+ years. You know what they say - use em or lose em!

    Good Luck!
  • This is starting to smell awfully similiar to the early days of the Watergate investigation
  • Fuck. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @06:11PM (#15326642)
    When the judicial system is being asked by an agency to not permit itself to look into a subject, you know there is something VERY wrong with this government's actions.

    Even if this were really the most effective way of rooting out terrorist actions, the fact that they seem to feel they have to shield themselves from judicial inquiry breaks the accountability of such a system. Are judges and juries too dangerous for our security network now? Are constitutional protections now too restrictive for our intellgence needs?

    Do we really need an unnacountable set of parasites feeding on our basic rights in order to protect us from an invisible set of enemies now? If so, does the debate about if we need these things need to be outside public consideration?

  • This is bullshit that the reason they claim they can't take it to court is because of secrets, they should have thought of the consequences before breaking the law.
  • The 4th Ammendment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ecorona ( 953223 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @06:26PM (#15326697) Homepage
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. People died for these rights. Human beings had to say goodbye to their girlfriends, wives, parents, and children forever in order to go die a likely horribly painful death. They did this because they believed there was some value in these rights. They sacrificed themselves so that the majority of us would, in privlige, enjoy the benefits of their sacrifice. Today, in this day and age and by not caring, we as a people are telling those TRUE patriots "You can take your sacrifice and shove it up your ass." Ironically, liberty and freedom are being attacked by the same people claiming to be inspired by it.
  • last I knew, when the police collected evidence illegally, and knowingly, the evidence was thrown out. Too bad the courts will probably let it slide for the sake of our great nation, and it's apathetic people.

  • by ayounge ( 906996 )
    Our system of government is founded on the basis of checks and balances. Each branch of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) all have ways to balance out the other branches.

    This motion to dismiss the case goes against the very idea of having checks and balances, and if anything the motion itself is unconstitutional. I hope we (the American public) do not allow for this to occur. I hope this issue continues to gain media coverage, because it has the makings to be a very hot political issue.

  • by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @06:46PM (#15326777) Homepage

    Because the US is attacking Iran in the next one to five months - before the fall elections.

    Two aircraft carriers are moving through the Pacific to join a third already in the Gulf as we speak.

    The US is running Kurdish and Iranian dissident groups on incursions into Iran, to stimulate Iranian incursions into Iraq. The Turks are severely upset, having massed 250,000 troops on the Turkey side of the Iraq border.

    Once the Iran war launches, it will "bomb" all other concerns off the front pages - including the Republican bribery scandals, the CIA agent leaking, the wreck of the US intelligence services by Bush, etc., ad nauseum.

    The end result of the attacks on Iran will be a ten-year guerrilla war two to four times as big and damaging to the US as Vietnam.

    By this time in 2008, even Karl Rove will be demanding Bush's impeachment - oh, wait, Karl's being indicted this week (he told the President so last week and AG Gonzales went into the courthouse Friday to hear the indictment.)

    So forget the spying on US citizens.

    By the way, the Narus company that builds the hardware referenced in the EFF case is run by an "Israeli immigrant" (read: Mossad) - and one of the the directors is a former NSA guy.

    Anything more you want to know?

    Better learn to welcome your new Bush overlord...cause he already knows if you don't approve.

    • Because the US is attacking Iran in the next one to five months - before the fall elections.

      I guess I've been a little behind on current events, so thanks for the info.

      Yes people, it looks like we have another Iraq war on our hands. I'm very much in the minority here with my beliefs, but I'm 99.9% confident that both of these wars are economic ones because Iraq wanted to trade oil in Euros and not US dollars, Iran wants to do the same now (see []), and Venezuela might b
  • STASItastic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @06:47PM (#15326785) Homepage Journal
    Bush is nominating Hayden to direct the CIA. Even though Hayden broke the law by spying on us, saying the 4th Amendment doesn't require probable cause []. It does.

    So Bush's government is derailing justice to protect his compiling vast complex databases [] of our private communications. In the hands of Iran/Contra conspirators.

    After Bush's Justice Department agreed to drop their in-house investigation [] into Bush's NSA wiretap spying because Bush's NSA told them they didn't have security clearance, these lawsuits are the main obstacle to Bush spying on you as much as he can, taxpaid by you.

    Next week, NSA whistleblower Chris Strom will reveal to the Senate how the NSA domestic spying goes even further [] than these latest exposures (despite Bush denial at every step). Probably spying on us with our satellites, which they scare us into paying for as part of that useless $BILLION Star Wars missile shield.

    Feel safer?
  • How to fight... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by guisar ( 69737 ) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @09:16PM (#15327402) Homepage
    Donate $50 to the EFF.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 13, 2006 @10:06PM (#15327605)
    These are extremely ominous developments. What is worrisome is not merely that the executive branch is engaging in these illegal and unconstitutional activities, but that it is so brazenly asserting a right to do so. In past administrations, e.g. Nixon's, great efforts were made to keep activities like this a secret. Nixon understood that it was unconstitutional for the "Plumbers" to break into Daniel Elsberg's psychiatrist's office or to tap the phones of the Democratic National Committee. He did not want these activities disclosed because he knew they would not be tolerated by his political opponents or even by his political allies. In comparison to Nixon's administration, Bush's efforts at secrecy are relatively lackluster. Indeed, whenever they are faced with a disclosure of one of these kinds of activities - torture, holding people without charge, circumventing the Geneva convention, spying on innocent civilians without a warrant, etc, - they assert that these activities are perfectly justified.

    In a strange way, Nixon's attempt to cover-up his administration's illegal activities involved an implicit acknowledgment of the rule of the law - he engaged in a cover-up because he knew what he had done was illegal. Bush and company don't try very hard to cover up their illegal activities, because they don't care to understand that what they have done violates the Constitution.

    As the logic of this plays out, it is going to become apparent that *there must be a constitutional crisis* if we do not want to see the Fourth Amendment eviscerated. If the executive asserts powers it should not have, then either the legislative or the judicial branch, or the people directly, will have to bring the system back into balance. Otherwise we face a slide into tyranny. We cannot allow Bush's justifications of these unconstitutional acts to stand, because they provide precedents that are too threatening to our fundamental liberties. A constitutional crisis is inevitable - and essential - for the health of our democracy.
  • Impeachment dilemma (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @01:20AM (#15328185)
    There are a number of reasons why people aren't talking impeachment, these days, but the most obvious one is: "President Cheney"

    I suspect I know the answer to this already, but I'll ask it anyhow, just in case a legal person can respond and we'll learn something about it:

    Can we begin impeachment proceedings on BOTH of them and try them as a pair, impeach or not, hang together or serve together?

    The constitution doesn't begin to cover it, but what about legal lore? Can congress make that move?

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson