August 17, 2006



From FoxNews: Judge Rules Terrorist Surveillance Program Unconstitutional.

A federal judge ruled Thursday that the government's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit became the first judge to strike down the National Security Agency's program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy as well as the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.

"Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution," Taylor wrote in her 43-page opinion.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers who say the program has made it difficult for them to do their jobs. They believe many of their overseas contacts are likely targets of the program, which involves secretly listening to conversations between people in the U.S. and people in other countries.

The government argued that the program is well within the president's authority, but said proving that would require revealing state secrets.

It should be noted that joining the ACLU in the suit was CAIR.

UPDATE I -- Aug. 18: From The Wall Street Journal editorial page: President Taylor: A federal judge rewrites the Constitution on war powers. (via TIA Daily)

As for the First Amendment, Judge Taylor asserts that the plaintiffs--a group that includes the ACLU and assorted academics, lawyers and journalists who believe their conversations may have been tapped but almost surely weren't--had their free-speech rights violated because al Qaeda types are now afraid to speak to them on the phone.

But the wiretapping program is not preventing anyone from speaking on the phone. Quite the opposite--if the terrorists stopped talking on the phone, there would be nothing to wiretap. Perhaps the plaintiffs should have sued the New York Times, as it was that paper's disclosure of the program that created the "chill" on "free speech" that Judge Taylor laments.

UPDATE II -- Aug. 22: Tim Sumner has an added observation about the WSJ editorial.

Posted by Forkum at August 17, 2006 05:21 PM