17 August 2006


The law strikes back...

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 — A federal judge in
Detroit ruled today that the Bush administration’s
eavesdropping program is illegal and
unconstitutional, and she ordered that it cease at

District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor found that
President Bush exceeded his proper authority
and that the eavesdropping without warrants
violated the First and Fourth Amendment
protections of free speech and privacy.


“It’s another nail in the coffin of executive
unilateralism,” said Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer for
the plaintiffs with the A.C.L.U. And Anthony
Romero, executive director of the A.C.L.U., said
Judge Taylor’s ruling “confirms that the
government has been acting illegally, in
contravention of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act and the Fourth Amendment.’’

The surveillance act was passed by Congress in
1978 in response to disclosures of previous
government improprieties in eavesdropping. The
act established a secret court to handle
applications for surveillance operations, and set
up procedures for them to take place while
applications for warrants are pending in some
limited circumstances and for limited times.

Judge Taylor said “the president has acted,
undisputedly, as F.I.S.A. forbids,” thus defying
the express will of Congress, and she was
unpersuaded by the government’s stance that it
could not defend itself in the lawsuit without
doing the country harm.

“Consequently, the court finds defendants’
arguments that they cannot defend this case
without the use of classified information to be
disingenuous and without merit,” she wrote.