February 19, 2008


Supreme Court rejects wiretap suit: The domestic spying case ends quietly as the justices issue a one-line order dismissing the ACLU challenge of the Bush program. (David G. Savage, 2/19/08, Los Angeles Times)

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union had argued that this dispute went beyond whether the nation's spy agency could intercept international phone calls and e-mails. It raised the question of whether the president must abide by the law, they said.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, a Cold War-era compromise, said the president could order secret wiretapping within the United States, but only with the specific approval of a special court.

But after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush issued a secret order to the National Security Agency that authorized it to intercept phone calls or e-mails coming into or going out of this country if there was a "reasonable basis" to believe there was a link to Al Qaeda. More significantly, the NSA did not need the approval of the FISA court to conduct this spying, according to the order.

When Bush's order was revealed in 2005, the president defended his decision as necessary for protecting against another attack within the United States. He also argued that the president, as commander in chief of the armed services, had the constitutional authority to act in the national interest, even if a law stood in the way.

The ACLU's lawyer urged the courts to take up the issue and rule that the law must be followed. "The president is bound by the laws that Congress enacts. He may disagree with those laws, but he may not disobey them," the ACLU said in the appeal to the Supreme Court.

Not that it's difficult, but it's certainly monotonous the way the Idiot-in-Chief keeps reading the Constitution with greater comprehension than the critics.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 19, 2008 1:41 PM

Here is how bad the ACLU's argument was: They didn't get a chance to even argue.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 19, 2008 3:18 PM

Boy, aren't we glad he is an idiot! Imagine if he has an iota of intelligence, we would all be spending our miserable lives in gulags.

Posted by: ic at February 19, 2008 4:46 PM

Thank God for our new and improved Supreme Court. That, if for no other reason, is why everyone who isn't a flaming lib, must get out and vote for the Republican candidates.

Posted by: erp at February 19, 2008 8:20 PM
"The president is bound by the laws that Congress enacts. He may disagree with those laws, but he may not disobey them," the ACLU said in the appeal to the Supreme Court.

So if Congress passes a law ordering the executive branch to outlaw the ACLU and jail their members, the ACLU will go to court to defend the principle involved?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 19, 2008 8:45 PM

We need to read the Court of Appeals opinion. This matter is not about what the ACLU is saying it is about.

I haven't seen that opinion yet , but I can devine from the journalistic sources that the ACLU was trying to boostrap the old "chilling effect" concept from the First Amendment area into the Fourth Amendment area, where it does not exactly fit.

This error one again demonstrates the error of confusing a rule of law with the language used to announce the rule of law. This is comparable to things like "wall of separation," or the old favoite, "reasonable expectation of privacy."

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 21, 2008 5:26 AM
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