The decision in the highly anticipated Supreme Court case Clapper v. Amnesty International USA has arrived, and it’s not a good one for those of us that care about civil liberties. Basically, the Supreme Court stated that the plaintiffs cannot challenge the warrantless wiretapping law because they cannot prove they have been victims of it. The problem is that the program is so secretive, it is impossible to know if you are being listened to! This is the kind of nonsense we have to deal with these days. Meanwhile, it is very interesting that the five “conservative” justices sided with the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice, while the four “liberal” justices were opposed. What does that tell you about Obama?
From the Huffington Post:
NEW YORK — Journalists and human rights advocates worried they are being swept up in an electronic dragnet cannot challenge the U.S. government’s secretive warrantless wiretapping program in a lawsuit, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision on Tuesday. The court’s decision, handed down in a case called Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, will complicate civil libertarians’ efforts to push back against the post-9/11 expansion of surveillance.
Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and the lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement the ruling was a “disturbing decision” that “insulates the [warrantless wiretapping] statute from meaningful judicial review and leaves Americans’ privacy rights to the mercy of the political branches.”
At issue is the government’s warrantless wiretapping program, begun in secret and without congressional authorization under the George W. Bush administration. In the wake of a 2008 federal law passed to legalize that program, the National Security Agency and other agencies are supposed to be able to read emails and listen in on phone calls without a warrant — but only when they are targeting foreign nationals.
The court’s ruling amounts to something of a catch-22 for the plaintiffs. The program is so secret that reporters and human rights advocates don’t know whether they’re being wiretapped. But because they don’t know whether they’re actually having their calls picked up, Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his opinion for the court’s conservative majority, the plaintiffs’ argument that they have the standing to challenge the program was based on a “highly speculative fear.”
“This is a very depressing decision, but one that has become routine in a court system that when faced with what the government insists are matters of national security writes lengthy opinions about why the courts cannot defend the rule of law,” Hedges wrote in an email. He added that he hopes his ongoing lawsuit against the government over a separate law authorizing the indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists will fare better.
Full article here.
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