As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wiretapping Suits To Go Forward - Obama's DoJ Should Give Up

Perhaps more important than the revelation that the NSA "overcollected" information on innocent Americans was the news late yesterday that Vaughn Walker, the judge in many of the wiretapping cases currently before the court, elected to keep the Al Haramain suit going.

Accordingly, the parties are hereby ordered to meet and confer regarding the entry of an appropriate protective order which shall be entered herein before the court rules on the merits. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has successfully employed protective orders in the In Re Guantánamo Bay Detainee Litigation, D DC No Misc 08-0442 TFH, even providing for the use of top secret/sensitive compartmented information (TS/SCI). See, for example, the documents at docket numbers 409 and 1481 in that matter. The United States has advanced no argument that would suggest a reason why the court’s use of a protective order in instant matter modeled on those in use in the Guantánamo Bay would not adequately protect the classified information at issue here.

As Marcy Wheeler later describes, having read the evidence in the case, including the document Bush's Justice Department inadvertently gave Al Haramain's lawyers showing a transcript of their wiretapped conversations, Walker wants the case to proceed.

Unless I'm misreading these tea-leaves (which I doubt, because the tea-leaves have been reading the same way since well before January), Walker is prepared to rule that al-Haramain is an aggrieved party. Meaning, Walker is convinced the government wiretapped al-Haramain illegally.

Not a surprise, in the least, but it's nice we're finally getting around to this [...]

But he's also called the government's bluff. Last we heard in this case, after all, the government was squawking like Cheney, threatening to come take its documents away if Walker tried to give them to al-Haramain. But what's it going to do now, if Walker has his ruling on the merits all but written now? Take Walker's rulings away? Take his notes? In other words, Walker has read the documents--documents that likely impact not just this suit, but also the other suits against the government. And the government can't take his review of those documents away at this point.

Walker has multiple wiretapping suits before him, and this ruling will have implications for them as well. Which is why Obama's DoJ should just give up with the state secrets reasoning at this point. Clearly it won't work, and it only gets them more deeply involved in a cover-up. Just allow the cases to reach court and let the chips fall.

Meanwhile, Jay Rockefeller may have speculated that NSA was wiretapping him earlier this year, in which case I'll be happy to not help him, since he led the effort to indemnify the telecoms. You're on your own, Jay.

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