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Judge Finds NSA Wiretapping Program Illegal

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the time-to-get-a-warrant dept.

Communications 136

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that a federal judge has ruled that the NSA's warrantless surveillance program was illegal, rejecting the Obama administration's effort to keep one of Bush's most disputed counterterrorism policies shrouded in secrecy. Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the government had violated a 1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance when it intercepted phone calls of Al Haramain, a now-defunct Islamic charity in Oregon, and of two lawyers who were representing it in 2004. Declaring that the plaintiffs had been 'subjected to unlawful surveillance,' the judge said that the government was liable to pay them damages."

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The NSA Already Knew The Verdict (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699176)

They heard the judge tell his wife when he called to ask "What's for dinner?"

Re:The NSA Already Knew The Verdict (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700372)

They heard the judge tell his wife when he called to ask "What's for dinner?"

Wife? Not this guy. This is the same judge presiding over the Proposition 8 trial in California, and the biggest open secret in the whole affair is that Vaughn Walker is himself homosexual.

Re:The NSA Already Knew The Verdict (3, Insightful)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701400)

Good, maybe we'll actually get a decent ruling on it this time. If Walker should be disqualified from ruling on this case because he is gay, then all religious bigot judges would have to be disqualified as well, and we've had plenty of them rule on gay issues.

Re:The NSA Already Knew The Verdict (2, Insightful)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701410)

biggest open secret in the whole affair is that Vaughn Walker is himself homosexual.

It's not a secret at all, he's openly gay but according to this San Francisco Chronicle article [sfgate.com] "Walker [...] has never taken pains to disguise - or advertise - his orientation."

Sounds like you're making something out of nothing. I have mod points and briefly considered modding you troll but decided that a reply was more fair.

Re:The NSA Already Knew The Verdict (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701080)

Ha ha ha. Great April Fools Day joke!

I can't believe anybody took this seriously, because it's just ridiculous that it would ever happen.

First Post (1)

foolserrend1975 (1692990) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699178)

This was going to be a first post, but it was intercepted with a MITM attack fom the NSA.......

Sadly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699200)

April fool's day came early :-(

Re:Sadly... (4, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699232)

Yeah, that was my reaction as well. That's way F'd up if this is an April Fool's Day prank.

Re:Sadly... (2)

chorder (177607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700360)

Seconded, definitely thought this was a prank at first. Guess I'm more jaded than I thought.

Re:Sadly... (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701210)

Indeed. Though it does look legit. I still have a niggling bit of doubt in the back of my mind.

Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699202)

Judge Finds NSA Wiretapping Program Illegal

Versus NYTimes title:

Federal Judge Finds N.S.A. Wiretaps Were Illegal

See the difference? The program wasn't ruled illegal. That would be huge. It's the fact that these people are American citizens and there was no court order to wiretap them and they found out about it. For most of us it's just the first two. And from the article:

The overhauled law, however, still requires the government to obtain a warrant if it is focusing on an American citizen or an organization inside the United States. The surveillance of Al Haramain would still be unlawful today if no court had approved it, current and former Justice Department officials said. But since Mr. Obama took office, the N.S.A. has sometimes violated the limits imposed on spying on Americans by the new FISA law. The administration has acknowledged the lapses but said they had been corrected.

So this isn't the great news with a big change that you were hoping for. It just means that if you can prove you were wrongfully wiretapped then you get restitution. Problem is that you have no proof. So you can either lay a trap for the NSA (not smart) or complain to your representative or do nothing.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1, Offtopic)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699236)

Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that's a straw, you see? You watching?. And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake... I... drink... your... milkshake!

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699306)

Would you stop ruining that quote? Jeez, next there'll be kids on my lawn repeating it ad nauseam. And I don't even have a lawn!

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699402)

I'd like to drink Erykha Badu's milkshake on Dealey plaza's grassy knoll.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (2)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699302)

or complain to your representative or do nothing.

Given that Congress and the courts had abandoned us on this issue, complaining to your representative is essentially doing nothing.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699370)

You do realise that you put those guys there, don't you?

Not you personally, but the people who voted for their respective party's. You folks really need to sort out your electorate... Maybe handing out fliers on election day, outside the polling areas? List alternative parties, some of their major points... Something for them to read while in line.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (2, Interesting)

Derek Pomery (2028) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699460)

Totally pointless as I know.

I've tried getting Libertarians elected.

The simplest one was a judge. In theory, no party affiliation. Democrats and Republicans splitting the judges, no one really knows much about judges, the Libertarian lawyer is well qualified. We're manning the polls. Easy. Right?

Wrong. Everyone just picks their sample ballot printed by the Dems that says to vote for the 2 Democratic judges and the 1 Republican one. They just copy from the "sample" onto the real. That's their entire act of voting, even when we could get them to accept alternate literature.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699596)

So the people are getting what they want. They just don't happen to want the same thing as you do.

And so > 95% of the votes goes to the "Two Parties" party- who are clearly doing a satisfactory job according to the voters.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (3, Insightful)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699960)

The general consensus is that Congress is doing an abysmal job, with an overall approval rating somewhere in the mid-teens. However, when people are asked about how their specific representatives are doing, the approval rating is usually at least in the mid-40s, and often well above the 50% mark. Essentially, the common view is, "Everyone in Congress is an idiot except the ones I voted for."

I happen to agree that most of Congress don't deserve to be there, but there are some that do. I'd like to see them all leave at the same time and start over, but I don't want term limits. We voted on those in California to deal with the stupid political shenanigans that were going on, and things got worse -- far, far worse. I voted for them myself, sold on the idea that bringing in fresh blood on a regular basis would keep the corruption level down. I'd happily see the term limits overturned now, because I have realized that with the stupid political shenanigans came the realization on the part of legislators that they were probably going to have to work with the guy on the other side of the aisle for the next 20-40 years, and so making friends even on contentious issues would be a good idea.

Term-limited legislators also don't have the time to learn the complexities of their districts. One's district might be relatively simple if it consists of a bunch of forest land and a few small towns, but those encompassing agricultural zones or crossing through cities with multi-ethnic neighborhoods may have far more complex issues to learn, and with only six years available in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate, there just isn't time to learn the subtleties, or to carry forward the knowledge that they do gain to help shape legislation a decade or two or three in the future.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (5, Insightful)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700358)

Term-limited legislators also don't have the time to learn the complexities of their districts.

WHAT THE FUCK???

No, seriously. What. The. Fuck? Don't have time to learn the complexities of their districts? Why the fuck are they even allowed to be voted in to represent that district if they don't know anything about the goddamned district they are supposed to be representing???

If this isn't what you meant, then please, clarify.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (2, Insightful)

Reziac (43301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700882)

Exactly -- but observationally, many don't have a clue about ANY part of their district other than the squeaky wheels.

I've noticed tho, that the ones who have a clue are also most likely to maintain a bunch of local offices and to regularly do town hall meetings and suchlike, all in the name of getting average citizens' input.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701494)

> Why the fuck are they even allowed to be voted in to represent that district if they don't know anything about the goddamned district they are supposed to be representing???

AFAIK, whether they know anything or not is irrelevant, as long as:

1) They manage to run as a candidate.
2) They get voted in.
3) They aren't disqualified for whatever reason.

There are some restrictions and requirements on who can be a candidate, but I doubt "knowing stuff" is a requirement.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699618)

I've tried getting Libertarians elected.

...

Everyone just picks their sample ballot printed by the Dems that says to vote for the 2 Democratic judges and the 1 Republican one. They just copy from the "sample" onto the real. That's their entire act of voting, even when we could get them to accept alternate literature.

All that means is that the Democrats are doing a better job of selling their candidate than you did selling yours. Figure out why, and work out a better strategy for November.

Seriously, I don't vote for libertarians because their answer to a hard question is to take their toys and go home.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (2, Informative)

Derek Pomery (2028) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700050)

I was making several points there.

One was that a set of non-partisan posts were divided between the 2 parties. There was no competition.

The other was that voters were not aware they were voting for a Republican judge even if they were strongly opposed to Republicans

The final one was that it wasn't about selling anything. They simply handed people sample ballots at the station and people copied them down. In essence, they were voting for the entire Democratic apparatus, which is a difficult momentum to overcome.

And finally, we certainly haven't given up. We keep trying, we keep fielding candidates. I'm just noting that simply saying that people shouldn't complain since they elected those people is too simplistic a response.

Ranked voting will probably help some, as well possibly proportional representation.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701124)

Absolutely, Preference Voting [wikipedia.org] of some kind would go a long way.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700198)

Sounds like you're saying the voters have abandoned themselves.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (4, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700934)

Not you personally, but the people who voted for their respective party's [candidate].

The corporate dollars trump my vote, and those dollars go to both major party candidates. The corporate media won't report on any candidate that isn't Republican or Democrat.

Maybe handing out fliers on election day, outside the polling areas?

In my state you can't do that within 100 feet (30 meters) of a polling place, but it does no good anyway. The Ron Paul yard signs were thick last election, but McCain beat him handily. And what's one flyer going to do against every newspaper, radio, and TV outlet in the country?

We have the best legislators money can buy.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (4, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701064)

Have you considered that, perhaps, Ron Paul is not a candidate that is viewed favorably by many people who might otherwise be willing to vote third party?

I mean, really. Reading Slashdot, it is like "third party" is just synonym for "libertarian". If it is so in practice, I am not surprised about lack of third party votes.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701398)

So, I can vote for the guy who supports this and has an R after his name, the guy who supports this and has a D after his name, or the guy with an I after his name who probably won't win and even if he does, won't get anything at all accomplished unless he abstains from this issue?

The 3rd choice might eventually do some good, but it's damned near doing nothing.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699414)

This just in - the Congress have renamed themselves "lords" rather than representatives. So now we have an elected nobility, and we citizens are no longer sovereign individuals, but serfs.

Yay.

April Fool's?

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701426)

They're called Lords in the British Parliament. That doesn't mean they're nobility. Its a title, just like "Representative" or "Senator"

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699764)

It's not like it will accomplish nothing. It will get you on the terrorist watch list. That's something, right?

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700210)

or complain to your representative or do nothing.

Given that Congress and the courts had abandoned us on this issue, complaining to your representative is essentially doing nothing.

Another reason I refuse to vote for Republicans or Democrats. Third parties all the way. The professional politicians can go and find a real job now.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699526)

I have not read the Judge's opinion, so I do not know which was actually held, but though the article title may have only stated the Wiretaps were illegal, the first sentence of the article states that "A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s program of surveillance without warrants was illegal." As in the entire program, so in your words, huge. Without a warrant, this type of action is illegal. And the entire program that was in place consisted of surveillance without warrants. According to the article, the program has largely changed to comply with the warrant requirement, and where it has not it is still illegal. Of course they can still continue to run this illegally, but at least now we citizens can do something about it. And yes, for you as an individual to get restitution you must prove that you were individually armed. But as they would be committing illegal activity other law enforcement entities can enforce the law against these individuals. Previous to this decision, it was not illegal, and so only affected citizens could bring suit to attempt to get the actions declared illegal. To me that seems to be a pretty big change and something to celebrate.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699906)

What else can you hope for, though? Everything's legal if you don't get caught.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (2, Informative)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699976)

See the difference? The program wasn't ruled illegal.

The article says "A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the National Security Agency's program of surveillance without warrants was illegal"

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (4, Interesting)

Jiro (131519) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700120)

It's the New York Times. Accuracy there has been suboptimal.

And the ruling didn't even go that far. The government's defense was that it is not required to obey the law. The government didn't try to argue that it *was* obeying the law. So the judge ruled that 1) yes, you are required to obey the law, and 2) since you didn't try to argue that you were obeying the law, I have to assume that you're not, so pay up.

In other words, the issue of legality didn't really come up except in a very narrow sense.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701114)

The government didn't try to argue that it *was* obeying the law.

Cus they can't.

So the judge ruled that 1) yes, you are required to obey the law

Now there's a legal "duh" if I ever heard one.

In other words, the issue of legality didn't really come up except in a very narrow sense.

True and of course doesn't set any strict precedent or force the Executive to do anything or punish anyone who performed illegal acts.

But it is very promising for any future cases that come forward, since it strongly suggests that "we don't have to obey the law" is not going to fly, meaning they would have to argue the legality of the program, which of course they can't.

Honestly, since Holder has been making noise about investigating the NSA and CIA extra-legal programs despite Obama wanting to move on, I suspect that this form of argument is used because it is 1) essentially the argument AG Gonzalez used and 2) doomed to failure. So he does his official duty of defending the government, while also getting the outcome he wanted. But that's quite a bit of speculation. :)

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (1)

weiserfireman (917228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700276)

Actually, the ruling is more subtle than the news media can understand

The Obama administration did not provide a defense on whether the wiretaps are legal or illegal. The Administrations defense was this was a "State Secrets" case and that neither the Judge or the Plaintiff could have access to the information to determine the legality or illegality.

The Judge ruled that the State's Secrets doctrine didn't apply. Therefore because the Administration didn't provide any additional defense, he upheld the Plaintiffs allegations as factual, and ruled in their favor.

That isn't the same thing are ruling that the wiretaps or the program in general were illegal. It is more closely akin to a failure to appear summary judgement.

Re:Particular Taps, Not Entire Program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31701086)

What was interesting though is that the Judge seemed to indicate that a traditional FISA warrant would be needed to satisfy his interpretation of the law.

So he didn't say specifically that warrantless wiretaps in the name of national security are always illegal, but that a person has cause to sue if they know they have been wiretapped without a FISA warrant or other warrant. Narrows the ability for people to sue, but it does seem to indicate that those who can prove they have cause CAN sue.

"The government" is liable to pay damages? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699206)

Instead, what about jailing the person responsible? He's getting away with impunity right now.

Re:"The government" is liable to pay damages? (2, Interesting)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699276)

"If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged." - Noam Chomsky [chomsky.info]

Re:"The government" is liable to pay damages? (1, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699352)

You say that as if it were a bad thing. With the possible exceptions of Eisenhower and Obama, we haven't had any Presidents since the 40s who weren't better dead. Carter at least has done a number of great things after being voted out of office.

Re:"The government" is liable to pay damages? (2, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699592)

Clinton and Bush Sr were pretty good presidents, and Carter was a nice guy, only time will tell for Obama but it looks like he is following in Bush Jr. footsteps.

Re:"The government" is liable to pay damages? (2, Informative)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700248)

Bush Sr., the guy who asked for CALEA? Bush Sr., the guy who defended our country after Iraq invaded us, oops I mean, took us to war for Kuwaiti interests?

Clinton, the guy who signed CALEA? Clinton, they guy who signed DMCA?! Clinton, the guy who signed eternal-copyright extension?

Those aren't good presidents. Every president ends up making us long for the previous guy, and always to our amazement, i.e. "I can't believe I miss whatsisface, because I hated him," but that doesn't mean whatsisface was a good president. Every 4 years, we lower our standards so that we can vote for one of the Republicrat candidates without feeling too ashamed about it.

Re:"The government" is liable to pay damages? (3, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700516)

Let me put this in perspective.

Carter - nice guy, did nothing of value
Reagan - horrible
Bush Sr - did some good, did some bad
Clinton - did a bit more good than Bush, did some bad
Bush Jr. - horrible
Obama - so far? horrible

Clinton and Bush Sr were the only presidents in my lifetime that I can agree with some of their decisions.

Clinton and Bush both made great strides in balancing the budget, they made modest improvements in some areas of domestic policy. And they took far fewer measures to destroy the constitution and integrity of the nation than Reagan and Bush Jr.

Did they get everything right? No. Were they great? No. But they stand head and shoulders above every other president in my lifetime. Unlike Reagan, Bush Jr and probably Obama (time will tell but he isn't doing well), I can have some small measure of respect for them.

A late victory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699208)

A late victory is still a victory I guess. Too bad we didn't see this 10 years ago.

Re:A late victory (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699258)

The offense was commited in 2004 - you only waited 6 years. (Ten years ago Bill Clinton was in the White House)

Re:A late victory (2, Interesting)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699416)

"A late victory is still a victory I guess."

Yeah. Recall however that the it was over 2 years (72-74) from the time of the break-in at the Watergate hotel until Nixon was impeached. Then, it wasn't until 1975 and 1976 when the Church committee did a serious investigation of the history of abuses by the intelligence community. I remain hopeful that at some point the entire truth will be revealed. My hope has been diminished by the fact that the current president seems content to simply "move on" and forget the criminal activities of the prior administration, but it's not too late.

FOIA and NSArchive (2, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701178)

I remain hopeful that at some point the entire truth will be revealed. My hope has been diminished by the fact that the current president seems content to simply "move on" and forget the criminal activities of the prior administration, but it's not too late.

Well, if you're satisfied simply knowing the truth, whether or not it results in justice being meted out, then I'd take heart. Because personally I bet that in about twenty years the truth, straight from the horse's mouth, will be available at the National Security Archive [gwu.edu] .

Ever wonder if the CIA and Oliver North were really allowing the Contras to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. in order to buy weapons, to get around the Congressional ban on material assistance? Did the U.S. government really know that Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons against Iran and the Kurds at the same time we sent Donald Rumsfeld to go shake our good buddy's hand?

Well it's all right there. BTW, the answer to both questions, according to the U.S. government itself, is "yes".

Re:A late victory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31701450)

Nixon wasn't impeached.

I miss OMGPonies :( (0, Offtopic)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699210)

This is a very cool outcome to a long and very annoying program. Carte Blanche policies for spying one one's citizens is not just annoying, it ensure whoever's at the top will get corrupter that much faster.

by the way, I miss April Fools, OMGPONIES! Style. That was the best April Fools EVAR
[cries]

Those april fools jokes... (5, Funny)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699212)

...are getting more elaborate by the minute. First the iPad is described as 'working according to marketing promises'. And now that ?!?

Re:Those april fools jokes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699346)

Wait, the next one should be that Obama just passed "free healthcare for all"!!!

Oh, I get it: April Fool's! (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699214)

Filter error: You can type more than that for your comment.

April Fools? (5, Insightful)

siwelwerd (869956) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699228)

I spent several minutes deciding if this was a joke or not. And that fact makes me very sad.

Re:April Fools? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699280)

It is april fools joke, you really think they will go against the gestapo.

Re:April Fools? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699340)

welkome to amerika komrade....

Have you reported to the ministry of truth lately?

Re:April Fools? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699750)

If you click the link it's obvious that it's not an April fools joke. The article was published on 31 March.

But I do admit it's sometimes hard to tell from the face of it whether it's true or not.

If only /. would limit itself to one and only one joke article... it may even be a good one... it seems to get worse every year...

I want those ponies back!

At least that was a decent April Fools prank - so good it resulted in a meme.

Re:April Fools? (1)

Toze (1668155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699994)

Yeah, there's going to be a lot of disappointed people when they post the correction to this tomorrow.

April fools! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699240)

lol. April fools.

BA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699262)

I pity the fool.

Pay Damages? (0, Flamebait)

kenh (9056) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699244)

The excerpt said:

the judge said that the government was liable to pay them damages

Now, what if it is found that those damages payments are in fact funneled to a terrorist organization, could the government be tried for aiding our enemies by giving them money? That could make for some interesting blog posts on both the left AND the right!

Re:Pay Damages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699264)

If the government pays damages, and the people pay the government, who is really paying the damages?

Re:Pay Damages? (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699462)

And was this all just an elaborate plot to funnel money to terrorists? /Puts on tinfoil hat.

Re:Pay Damages? (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700846)

You know, the government has done stranger things to funnel money to folks it wanted to (Iran-Contra)

One of the things that make this conspiracy theory so hard to make is that it spans two administrations...

What if the only proof they had the group was a terrorist front, funneling money to terrorists, was from the intercepted calls, so they "convieniently" loose terrorist-group status (since the evidence is thrown out) just in time to collect their "damages" from Uncle Sam... "Isn't that so convieeeeeenient!?" (sorry, channeling Dana Carvey's Church Lady http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnCZxLvYXI8 [youtube.com] )

That should get a few tin foil hats spinning ;^)

Just a speed bump (2, Interesting)

smchris (464899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699254)

I'm sure our crack Supreme Court will understand the constitutionality of illegal wiretaps.

Re:Just a speed bump (3, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699348)

They barely understand how cars can move without horses in front of them.

Re:Just a speed bump (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701490)

I'm sure our crack Supreme Court will understand the constitutionality of illegal wiretaps.

The SCOTUS is on crack? Well, I guess that explains some of their rulings...

Enough said (4, Informative)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699286)

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Unfortunately, this doesn't mention wiretaps (3, Informative)

jjo (62046) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699928)

The literal words of the Constitution do not cover electronic communications. It's only judicial interpretation over the years that has established the idea that "persons, houses, papers, and effects" implies electronic communication as well. However, this judicial interpretation has not included constitutional protection of many international communications or domestic communications with agents of foreign powers. (Think about it: why was the FISA statute needed to protect these communications if they were already protected by the Constitution?)

The legal question that Obama (following in Bush's footsteps) is posing is this: does the Congress, through the FISA legislation, have the right to restrict the President's power, as Commander-in-Chief, to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance? It's really not as obvious a question as many people think.

Quoting the Constitution, far from ending the discussion, actually points out the inherent problem: how should an 18th-century document be applied in the 21st century? Supreme Court precedent (which, we know from the campaign-finance case, must never, ever be changed) provides much less Constitutional protection from electronic intercepts than most people realize.

Re:Unfortunately, this doesn't mention wiretaps (5, Insightful)

zzsmirkzz (974536) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700518)

How does the work "Effects" not cover electronic communications. Even the fact that they go through the pain of listing so many nouns should make the intent clear. Nothing can be searched or seized without probable cause and without a description of the places to be searched and the items to be seized.

Re:Unfortunately, this doesn't mention wiretaps (3, Interesting)

Reziac (43301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700918)

That was my thought too. "Effects" is "any damned thing you own that we didn't think of offhand, but might not be precisely homes or papers." In short, anything that is YOURS. How is this not clear?? How would electronic anything be exempt??

Besides, the Constitution is not a list of things We The People may do or not do. It is a list of things the Government MUST do and MUST NOT do, and with respect to that government, the Constitution is indeed in the form of "all things not compulsory are forbidden".

I swear, our whole government is becoming one big April Fools joke, with We The People cast as the fools. :(

Re:Unfortunately, this doesn't mention wiretaps (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701384)

It is a list of things the Government MUST do and MUST NOT do, and with respect to that government, the Constitution is indeed in the form of "all things not compulsory are forbidden".

That probably takes the argument too far.

The Constitution got a pretty through working-over after the Civil War - a permanent alteration in the balance of power between the state and federal governments - and there remains the problem of definition and interpretation.

The way people think - the way people talk - changes over 200 years.

Literal nothing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31700994)

Nothing has changed since the constitution was written. You may think all the new technology somehow changed humanity on its face, but they are just periphery and do NOT fundamentally change social interactions (e.g., government and laws). Maybe in your head it means what you wrote, but it hasn't meant that since the words were written on the paper to anyone else except you.

Re:Unfortunately, this doesn't mention wiretaps (1)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701170)

The legal question that Obama (following in Bush's footsteps) is posing is this: does the Congress, through the FISA legislation, have the right to restrict the President's power, as Commander-in-Chief, to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance? It's really not as obvious a question as many people think.

I thought the crux of the hoopla (if I might use such a phrase) was that this was about domestic surveillance?

Re:Enough said (2, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701232)

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. ...
April Fools

There. fixed it for you.

Re:Enough said (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701532)

I journaled [slashdot.org] about this a couple of years ago.

FYI: "Published: March 31, 2010" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699290)

So not April fools joke. Probably.

OMG Ponies! (3, Informative)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699300)

This ruling is the second time a federal judge has declared the program of wiretapping without warrants to be illegal. However a 2006 decision by a federal judge in Detroit, was reversed on the grounds that those plaintiffs could not prove that they had been wiretapped and so lacked legal standing to sue.
The new law, however, still requires the government to obtain a warrant if it is focusing on an American citizen or an organization inside the United States. The surveillance of Al Haramain would still be unlawful today if no court had approved it

by the way I like the new Slashdot colour scheme.

Re:OMG Ponies! (1)

gimmebeer (1648629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699534)

Sure, we broke the law and violated people's civil rights... But you can't prove that we violated *your* rights specifically, so you have no case against us.

Re:OMG Ponies! (1)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700218)

Instead of a +5 Informative, that should be a -1 Troll. I copied sentences almost directly from the NYT article and just changed a couple words. April fools! I've never trolled for Karma before... I didn't think it was going to be that easy.

Re:OMG Ponies! (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701240)

I didn't think it was going to be that easy.

Really?

You really didn't think it'd be that easy, seriously?

No, no, I mean REALLY?

Re:OMG Ponies! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31701248)

SlashRoulette sucks

Excellent. Now where are the criminal charges? (5, Interesting)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699312)

The FISA law was created in the wake of civil liberties abuses under the Johnson and Nixon administrations. It set up the secret FISA court so that the executive branch could not use "national security" as an excuse to bypass judicial oversight when conducting surveillance. The standards were very low to begin with, but the essential point is the "checks and balances" provision where at least SOMEONE (even if it's a secretive panel of judges) other than the executive branch knows what's going on.

A critical element of the LAW that's being overlooked here is that it established civil AND criminal penalties for violations. If the judge has ruled that there are civil liabilities, then it's obvious that someone broke the law. We now need to see criminal investigations, arrests and prosecutions. What's the point of having a regulatory framework governing the behavior of Federal employees when there are no consequences for violating the regulations? From the intelligence community to the financial regulatory agencies to the legislature and president himself, this government has exhibited an utter and complete disregard for the rule of law. Nixon said "If the president does it, then it's not a crime". Now it seems like "If a government employee does it, it's not a crime".

Re:Excellent. Now where are the criminal charges? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699470)

so that the executive branch could not use "national security" as an excuse to bypass judicial oversight

Isn't that what just happened?

Re:Excellent. Now where are the criminal charges? (3, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700118)

Pretty much. One of the complaints about the wiretaps (among other programs) is that the FISA court, which has only denied warrants in the past a handful of times, was not consulted even after the fact, and there is a reasonably long period of time in which to get a retroactive warrant. The Bush administration said they felt that they could not trust the FISA court to not talk about it, although any judge nominated to the court undergoes an extremely thorough background check and AFAIK no leak has ever been traced to a FISA judge. More likely, they knew that the FISA court, accepting though it is of Executive Branch decisions, was probably going to be unhappy with these programs.

Re:Excellent. Now where are the criminal charges? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31700302)

You people should have murdered Nixon like a dog, just like the military industrial complex killed Kennedy.
Instead, the American people set forth a precedent of getting off scott free and being pardoned by the incoming chief.

That's no disincentive to the next guy to obey the law.

If Nixon had been shot and killed while in office, and his corpse horrifically violated, then maybe (just maybe) the next guys in office wouldn't have been so cavalier about the whole thing.

Oh yeah, april fools NSA guys. I didn't mean that, obviously.

Pass the buck (0, Flamebait)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699332)

the judge said that the government was liable to pay them damages

#1 Who is this Mr. Government?
#2 Where does this Mr. Governments income come from?

I see.

This isn't justice, it's a fucking joke. How apt for Apr. 1st.

All that tech still seems so distant (2, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699424)

As with the "1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance"
Read what President Carter had to say:
http://www.cnss.org/fisa.htm ftp://cnss.org/Carter.pdf [cnss.org]
Its interesting how todays pundits, talking heads and NSA types seem to have missed the 'all', 'US persons' and 'electronic' part.
But never fear Mr or Ms NSA worker, the US gov will cover you by changing the definition of a US person to a domestic terrorist.
http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-s3081/show [opencongress.org]
With the magic T word, all domestic US protections are off :)
Its like Tbilisi or Budapest in 1956 - everybody needs a telco tap and a drone.

and the terrorists win. (-1, Troll)

mevets (322601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699426)

This judgement wouldn't have been handed down if Bush were still in power. Judges are only effective if they are afraid for their lives.

Google does not respect user privacy says nsaSoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31699444)

Is this the same NSA [slashdot.org] that's helping Microsoft keep all our data private?

Damages? Fruit-of-Poisoned vine! Appeal (4, Informative)

redelm (54142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31699732)

I'm not sure exactly what damages they can claim. Perhaps lawyers fees. More important is the actual finding -- if the surveillance was illegal, it falls under the "Fruit of the Poisoned Vine" doctrine, and and evidence gathered as a consequence becomes inadmissible in any criminal action.

This the a mjaor finding, and I expect the Feds to appeal. They have lots of lawyers and do not worry about the cost.

Re:Damages? Fruit-of-Poisoned vine! Appeal (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 4 years ago | (#31701098)

If celebrities can win substantial money because a magazine made up a story that they hired a trainer because they were fat, you should be able to get even more for illegally being watched by government spies.

Presidential Freedom Award (2, Interesting)

virchull (963203) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700214)

Judge Vaughn R. Walker should get the Presidential Freedom Award. He has told everyone in government that we are all equal under the law. Even President Bush and NSA spooks don't get a free pass to lawless behavior. As VP Biden would say - this is a BIG F*'g deal - not just for illegal wire taps, but for all kinds of lawless behavior that has been (still is) been done by government employees.

It's a good thing that Obama continued the fight. (1)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700254)

Otherwise, people would have been able to claim that this 'win' was just a default verdict.

Re:It's a good thing that Obama continued the figh (2, Interesting)

Sprouticus (1503545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700546)

If they dont appeal I actually think this might have been an intentional act on the part of the Obama Justice dept to undermine the Bush Doctrine. Makes you wonder if the document that was 'leaked accidentily' was put in there on purpose.

Think about it. If Obama had just said he was stopping the program, anyone could have restarted it in the future. But by sabotaging the program and ensuring its demise they actually fixed the problem permanently. Especially if they dont appeal.

Or they could be just as power hungry as Bush and lost to a reasonable judge.

We will probably never know.

best April Fools story yet! (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 4 years ago | (#31700722)

hahahahaha, kewl.

answer the door when we knock, don't make us mad.

a small victory for privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31701228)

Even this minor setback in the government's campaign to void civil rights is good news.

Oh right: APRIL FOOLS!

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