Federal Judge Rules Bush Wiretapping Program Illegal

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This could be big news.

The case in question concerns the alleged warrantless wiretapping of two U.S. citizens by the National Security Agency under a controversial Bush Administration plan, which has since been altered and codified into law. The U.S. citizens, both lawyers for the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, discovered evidence suggesting that they had been wiretapped when a classified document describing the monitoring was accidentally released by the U.S. government.

See a PDF of the ruling HERE.

Wired magazine summarizes the ruling this way:

“Plaintiffs must, and have, put forward enough evidence to establish a prima facie case that they were subjected to warrantless electronic surveillance,” U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled, in a landmark decision. Even without the classified document, the judge said he believed the lawyers “were subjected to unlawful electronic surveillance.”

It’s the first ruling addressing how Bush’s once-secret spy program was carried out against American citizens. Other cases considered the program’s overall constitutionality, absent any evidence of actual illegal eavesdropping. The Obama administration’s Justice Department staunchly defended the lawsuit. The classified document was removed from the case at the behest of both the Bush and Obama administrations that declared it a state secret.

The Obama administration has embraced legal arguments put forward by the Bush Administration, which held that this case must be dismissed by the court, under the so-called state secrets privilege, because to even adjudicate the claim of illegal wiretapping would disclose classified information.