The Daily Roundup

31 Mar

courtesy Flickr user hugheselectronic

A federal surveillance program authorized by President Bush, which conducted warrantless wiretaps on Americans, has been ruled illegal by a federal judge.

Although the Obama administration had argued that details of the program should remain secret, the judge rejected that argument.

The key paragraphs from the Times story:

The ruling delivered a blow to the Bush administration’s claims that its warrantless surveillance program, which Mr. Bush secretly authorized shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was lawful. Under the program, the National Security Agency monitored Americans’ e-mail messages and phone calls without court approval, even though the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, required warrants.

After The New York Times reported on the existence of the program in December 2005, the Bush legal team argued that it was lawful because the president’s wartime powers enabled him to override the statute. Jon Eisenberg, a lawyer represented Al Haramain, said Judge Walker’s ruling was an “implicit repudiation of the Bush-Cheney theory of executive power.”

At first this ruling may seem to be not too important. After all, Bush is no longer president. But the Obama administration has in too many cases sought to keep intact the expansions of executive power achieved the Bush administration. Unchecked presidential power is dangerous, whether it’s placed in the hands of a Republican or Democrat.

Also in The Times today, a profile of a New Yorker who is now threatened with deportation after being found with a marijuana cigarette. He is a permanent legal resident and has spent three years in jail because of the offense. His story here.

Although the ending of the military commissions system set-up during the Bush administration to try suspected terrorists has been a goal of liberals and civil libertarians since the commissions were announced, the Obama administration is coming close to outright embracing the commissions system.

I believed and still do believe that the military commissions are not the right approach to trying these suspected terrorists (some may actually be innocent, believe it or not). Our civilian system does just fine and to the extend that we do not believe our civilian justice system is capable of this task it undercuts America’s image as having the premier criminal justice system in the world.

Glenn Greenwald at Salon offers commentary.

The Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina believes a Constitutional Convention should be called to stop the new health care law.

At least it’s better than nullification.

Facebookers: For about 30 minutes last night your private e-mail addresses were available for public viewing. I just thought you would like to know.

And that’s The Daily Roundup. Have a great evening.

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