Rights Group Slams Obama Over Warrantless Wiretapping

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/hughelectronic/2246911227/">ElectronicFrontierFoundation</a>/Flickr

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


If you thought the fight over the warrantless wiretapping program that thrived under President Bush was over, think again. On Monday, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a brief in federal appeals court in an attempt to reopen a years-old case over the surveillance program.

CCR’s original lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, was filed in 2006. It sought an injunction ordering the government to terminate the NSA’s illegal surveillance program. The government claims to have discontinued the program in 2007. But in the final stages of the 2006 case, CCR asked the court to order the immediate destruction of any surveillance records it had on the plaintiffs (some lawyers were concerned that their attorney-client emails and phone calls had been monitored during the legal process).

The lower court ultimately denied CCR’s request, noting that before the group could sue the government, it first needed to provide evidence that its staff had been surveilled. (Such evidence is considered a state secret and would probably be instantly thrown out of court if it was ever uncovered in the first place.) CCR’s appeal is aimed at finally obtaining a court order for the destruction of any records the government might still possess.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Shayana Kadidal, a senior attorney at CCR, took aim at the Obama administration for helping to hide the Bush administration’s alleged misdeeds:

“The Obama administration has never taken a position – in this or any of the other related cases – on whether the Bush administration’s NSA surveillance program was legal. Instead, it fought to keep this case out of court…” said…Kadidal. “Despite considerable public evidence that attorneys were targeted by the program, the court refused to even order…that the government destroy any records of this illegal surveillance that it…retains. It is astonishing that President Obama’s administration continues to fight to hold on to the fruits of a patently illegal surveillance program…”

Civil libertarians have been trying for years to outflank President Obama’s efforts to guard the previous administration’s law-flaunting surveillance structure. Naturally, the president’s soft approach to addressing civil liberties violations didn’t win him much praise from his liberal base, nor did it console organizations like the ACLU, whose executive director said last year that he was “disgusted” by Obama’s policy decisions. Mother Jones has covered the Obama White House’s position on these issues for years: we wrote about the possible “wiretapping” of the Internet, the stunning lack of transparency, and the hefty price-tag of Obama’s clampdown on state secrets.

CCR’s ongoing fight over records of warrantless wiretapping is another indicator that the national-security-on-steroids apparatus of the Bush era continues to inform key decisions of the current administration.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.