It's inspiring to see
our judges finally
putting a stop to this
destruction of liberty.
The American Spark
U.S. Judges Slowly Stripping Bush Of His Tyrannical Powers
By Cliff Montgomery - Sept. 21st, 2007
It may not have been a major story in the corporate press, but it seems U.S. judges have finally begun stripping
the Bush Administration of its tyrannical spying powers.
A federal justice on September 6th ruled unconstitutional some of the most disgusting portions of the Anti-
Patriot Act. The ruling ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to cease its egregious use of a
warrantless spying tactic which had allowed the Bureau to command Americans' telephone and e-mail data
from private corporations, supposedly for 'counterterrorism investigations'.
The decision of New York's U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero flatly declared the FBI's use of secretive
"national security letters" (NSLs)--which allow the FBI to slap unrestricted gag orders on companies, with little
to no oversight from the Judicial Branch--to be a flagrant destruction of the First Amendment, as well as an
elimination of America's inherent "separation of powers" safeguards.
Judge Marrero ruled that such a grab for absolute power is "the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering,
with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values."
His straightforward 103-page opinion was an outright rejection of Bush Administration claims to absolute
power, as well as a just rebuke of Congress for merely revising the tyrannical act in 2005 rather than offering it
the pure rejection it deserved.
Since decency and fair play are unknown characteristics in this administration, one should expect the Bushies
to push for an appeal. All the same, Marrero's ruling may thankfully stop the Bureau from issuing tens of
thousands of NSLs every year to Internet providers, telephone companies and other telecommunications firms.
The ruling follows audits earlier this year by FBI and Justice Department investigators revealing that the
Bureau may have violated privacy laws or its own internal rules over a thousand times through its use of NSLs
in the last few years.
Such clear abuses of power continued in part because the Anti-Patriot Act keeps Americans from knowing
how the Bush Administration is violating our rights in the name of our "security".
"The risk of investing the FBI with unchecked discretion to restrict such speech is that government agents,
based on their own self-certification, may limit speech that does not pose a significant threat to national
security or other compelling government interest," Marrero expertly stated.
And he wasn't the only federal judge finally stripping the tyrant in the White House of his crown.
On Sept. 5th, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the Justice Department's attempt to
argue a blanket FOIA exemption for all warrantless spying program documents.
Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit submitted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center,
the National Security Archive, and the American Civil Liberties Union, the D.C. Federal Court rejected the Bush
Administration's summary claims.
Finding a number of the administration's claims for absolute secrecy “too vague and general,” Judge Henry
Kennedy issued a partial denial of the Bush Administration's call for summary judgment.
In particular, Judge Kennedy said that “declaring ‘because we say so’ is an inadequate method for invoking
exemption 5” of the FOIA law, which protects from disclosure “inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or
letters which would not be available by law to a party, other than an agency in litigation with the agency.”
In his opinion, Judge Kennedy wrote of his “substantial frustration” with this White House's “exceedingly high
level of secrecy.” The Bush Administration even claimed the right to keep the Court’s clerk--who brandishes a
security clearance precisely to provide basic oversight on matters of government secrecy--from viewing a
number of the administration’s submissions.
Judge Kennedy ruled that "summary judgment is warranted regarding some of the documents withheld by the
government. As to the remainder, the government must submit to the court a detailed, document-by-document
Vaughn index regarding these documents, along with further, significantly more-detailed declarations justifying
the various departments’ withholding decisions."
In democracy, knowledge is power. Those authorities who may know everything about you--while keeping you
ignorant about their activities--will inevitably control the government, and control you. It's therefore heartening
to see a few voices in our judicial system putting a stop to this administration's destruction of liberty.
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