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July 26, 2006

AT&T ruling major blow to privacy

A Chicago judge denied to grant an injunction preventing AT&T from handing the phone records of ordinary people to the government.

The judge said that requiring AT&T to confirm or deny its role in domestic spying would compromise national security.

These programs are no longer secrets. The administration has already acknowledged its illegal domestic spying program, and AT&T's data collection activities have already been widely reported and documented by credible sources.

Glenn Greenwald notes that this case has even more troubling implications:

The administration plainly believes that it is entitled to engage in conduct which violates the law while blocking courts from ruling on the legality that behavior. What is the point of having laws if political officials can violate them and then immunize themselves from being held accountable in a court of law -- as the Bush administration, at least thus far, has successfully done?

Here we see a two-pronged attack on the separation of powers. The president claims that he is not bound to respect the laws passed by Congress (i.e., FISA), and furthermore he is the final authority on what court cases might jeopardize national security. The president's decision is not subject to appeal. He is not accountable to Congress or to the public for his determinations. He doesn't have to give reasons for his decisions.

The bottom line is that the president can block any court case he wants by claiming that the case might reveal state secrets. That was a nice way to shut down the Illinois citizens who wanted to sue to stop AT&T from giving their private records to the government, or anyone who might want to use the courts to challenge Bush's authority.

[x-posted at Feministing.]

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Comments

I would say, swamp 'em with data, and try to probe the system's limits, but how? How do you make free overseas calls?

Steal a cell phone?

As a Canadian concerned about TERRORISM, whenever I call friends in the US, I make a point of getting their opinion on BUSH, and what's happening in the WHITEHOUSE. I also ask them how concerned they are about SUICIDE BOMBERS, IRAQ and ISRAEL, the MIDDLE EAST in general, how they feel about ISLAM. Since I'm interested in peace, I also tend to end my crossborder conversations with "Salaam Al-Alaikum" followed quickly by "JIHAD JIHAD JIHAD". Finding peace is such a struggle.

You're making WAY to big a deal out of this invasion-of-privacy thing, Lindsay. You sound just like my neighbor. Every time she catches me peeping in her bathroom window she screams that I'm invading her privacy. What a reactionary.

There's always the self-righteous "well if you don't have have anything to hide, you shouldn't worry."

They just don't get the principle of it.

Does nobody ever consider the possibiliity (probability) that this war on terror was manufactured, by Bush and Cheney (Cheney, neocons), for the specific purpose of being able to expand the authority of the Executive in perpetuity?

These men have made personal fortunes off of a war that has no end and has given them the opportunity to accomplish changes in laws that have had nothing to do with catching terrorist and could never have gotten passed had it not been for a nation of people who were scared out of their minds.

The courts were the chosen venue because of discovery. To gain access to documents that Bush has classified. But Bush has been able to get all of the cases tossed because of the national security concern. We need to address that directly; there is no national security concern. Not until Bush went making enemies for the U.S., and I'm beginning to think that was intentional. Because 5 years after 9/11 is a long time for people to stay scared and give up their power.

The courts don't hold the solution. Justice through the courts takes too long, and the courts have been gamed by the neocons.

The answer is proving the case that Bush, Cheney and the neocons conspired to either stage 9/11 or allow it to happen.

Gemma it's always possible - it's not like the didn't have a plan coming into the presidency, namely the Iraqi invasion, so if that was a part of it, it wouldn't shock me at all.

A brave satyr argues with a besotted shepherdess, resulting in suspense.

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