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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Wiretaps struck down

--posted by Tony Garcia on 8/20/2006

The wiretapping of (suspected) terrorists has been struck down.
A federal judge in Detroit ruled yesterday that the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program is unconstitutional, delivering the first decision that the Bush administration's effort to monitor communications without court oversight runs afoul of the Bill of Rights and federal law.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ordered a halt to the wiretap program, secretly authorized by President Bush in 2001, but both sides in the lawsuit agreed to delay that action until a Sept. 7 hearing. Legal scholars said Taylor's decision is likely to receive heavy scrutiny from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit when the Justice Department appeals, and some criticized her ruling as poorly reasoned.
Of course, commentary is without having read the decision.

Frankly I think that the phone taps not afoul of the Constitution at all. They were not being used for prosecution (at least I have not heard of them being used for any charges). This means that the Constitution cannot apply as there is not protection that is necessary. So, the way I interpret it all it seems that IF the government used any information to charge someone then the evidence from the taps would be unConstitutional. In fact, I would support the whole program being thrown out if such a prosecution were tried.

The tapped phones would be used to keep tabs on "chatter" and break up any plots. THOSE could lead to prosecution. Not being a lawyer I do not know how to legally make that differentiation from other crimes, but this is the specific situation that the tapping is for and for which I have no qualms about.

But if through a tapped conversation the authorities found out that a drug deal was going down on Saturday at the mall...that prosecution would be in violation of the Constitution and would invalidate the whole program.

Tricky line...but when you are balancing security against safety the lines are thin and tricky.


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