back to article US Supremes reject challenge to warrantless wiretapping

The US Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The American Civil Liberties Union and others, representing reporters, lawyers and Muslim groups, argued in court documents that the surveillance program violated constitutional guarantees to privacy. They also said …

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Flame

I cant understand

the US Judiciary decisions on this. The judiciary are as power hungry as any other branch of the US government, but allowing warrantless wire tapping DECREASES there power in the government, it basically sidelines them.

You would think they would be all over this like pigs on shit for trying to cut them out of the loop!

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@Iglethal

They are protecting the US Federal government the fact is if they were to overturn this and then rule against the administration which they would be forced to do that would lead to serious investigations into the entire workings of the Federal government at a time in which presidential elections are taking place this might be good for America and democracy but not for the Supreme court they agree not to blow up the ship they are all living on, call this the Gerald Ford school of civil war aversion. I despise this cowardice but I understand it only too well.

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Anonymous Coward

And there lies the problem

Power without oversight, and entities above the law. Both are characteristics usually found in dictatorships, and are inexcusable in anything pretending to be a democracy.

Key word: pretending. QED.

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Stop

Would you like fries with that?

The supremes are postponing the need to open of a can of worms the size of the continental USA.

As implemented, current USA warrantless wiretapping activities are likely to be unconstitutional for a number of reasons.

Nevertheless, the USA Congress is likely to legalize these activities, and retroactively pardon all of the participants in said activities.

Given some interesting timing, and a certain amount of good/bad luck, I can envision an outcome in which some current wiretapping activities are identified as being unconstitutional, but are still permitted by law, and are devoid of criminal or civil penalty, due to one or more special act(s) of Congress.

In essence, President Bush has managed to out-bluff the Supreme Court.

- The Garret

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Unhappy

Rubber-stamp

lglethal, you should be right. The SC justices are placed for life. They don't have to suck up to the Party to keep their positions, nor do they have to placate the Hordes (i.e. voters) every 2, 4 or 6 years. They *should* be independent. Their ambition *should* make them lash out at the "unitary executive" and its monarchic ambitions.

But the problem is that Republicans have subsumed their own ambitions to those of "The Party", as if "The Party" were a religion and the top neo-cons were its priests.

After all, it's exactly the same thing in Congress. The Republicans tend to rubber-stamp whatever Cheney & co. tell them to. And they're being side-stepped just as much as the Supreme Court justices.

Right-wing justices have been selected by BushCo not for their skills, or even their politically-conservative credentials, but instead for their ideological purity and their dedication to The Party.

It doesn't matter how corrupt, hypocritical or self-serving the Democrats are (and they are, believe me!) they will never become as bad the the current generation of Republicans. They would need complete lobotomies, ethic-otomies and compassion-otomies to even come close.

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Black Helicopters

You have no democracy. Get over it.

Sure, you get to choose every four years - between two almost identical parties paid for by the super-rich, with super-rich candidates, who deliver near-identical policies for the benefit of the rich.

They can put you away without trial for as long as they like (Guantanamo.) And torture you while you're there.

And they spy on every communication of yours, and indeed of every citizen in the land, without any judicial oversight, and the judges, chosen by the super-rich, refuse even to hear your appeals on the matter.

You live in a dictatorial plutocracy, not an open democracy. Government Of the people, By the rich, For the rich. They wiped their fat asses with your Constitution. And still you think you live in a democracy because every four years you choose which of the two groups to be the slave of?

You have no democracy. Get over it.

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Flame

The terrorists have already won

We've abandoned our principles of democratic checks and balances and the rule of law in favour of overreacting to an unspecified threat.

The terrorists have already won.

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Flame

America, seriously...

For once, take a hint from the French.

British protesting: Stand around outside a building with a placcard and walk up and down. Yell about how unhappy you are with something, but don't do it too loud. When the police arrive, move along peacefully and go about your lives, pretending that nothing happened or following the American example.

American protesting: Whinge about it on your blog. Form an online petition. Listen to old Punk records to make yourself feel like you're doing something against the system, but continue to vote, pay taxes, and watch TV. AKA Persistent Vegitative State.

French protesting: Riot. Mobs in the streets, unruly protest. Outright rebellion against authority figures. Projectiles hurled at police. Massive disruption of public services and private business, at least in the local area.

See how Bush likes his infringement of your rights with a 10,000 strong mob on the White House lawn.

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Black Helicopters

The Land of the Free...

NOT!

But we shouldn't mock too much, cos WE'RE NEXT!!

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Bronze badge

RE: America, seriously...

> British protesting: Stand around outside a building with a placcard and walk up and down. Yell about how unhappy you are with something, but don't do it too loud. When the police arrive, move along peacefully and go about your lives, pretending that nothing happened or following the American example.

No, British protesters stand still outside a building trying to keep warm next to a brazier. It might also amount to a siege where people are prevented from entering the premesis.

Americans walk up and down outside a building, because they are forbidden from blocking access to a building.

Otherwise bang on. :)

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Re: You have no democracy. Get over it.

@Anonymouse Coward,

>> "You have no democracy. Get over it."

Of course we have no democracy, and this is a good thing. Democracy is majoritarianism, i.e. "mob rule" which was understood by founders of the United States of America (and many other modern countries) to be unsustainable and generally A Bad Thing.

This is why the U.S. was designed to be a Constitutional Republic. Some of the powerful elite in the government and the media have distorted this fact and corrupted the meaning of "democracy" by equating it with "freedom" -- but make not mistake, democracy is *not* freedom; it is rule by the majority.

-dZ.

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Checks & Balances

The entire point of the US Supreme Court (and mind you this is the only power they have ever been granted) is to rule on the constitutionality of any law or action made/taken by the Legislative and the Executive Branch. That's it. When the US Supreme Court recognizes that something may not be legal, but refuses to see the case, they are in effect avoiding their own responsiblity.

If the Supreme Court isn't willing to slap our Law Enforcement Agencies with a wooden paddle when they do something wrong...well why the hell are we paying for them?

As for having no freedom...some of us already know that. I pay taxes for things I wouldn't endorse if I were held at gunpoint, and there's no legal way for me to challenge that. If I thought this was an ideal system of government then I would say so, but frankly it's not so great. Majority Rules. Lovely for a Kool-aid drinking cultist, but not so great for an independent hoopy frood. As soon as my contract is up, I'm leaving the country.

Just my two cents.

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The real problem...

Is that the American way of Government is always a lesser of two evils. I tend to be against the warrantless wiretapping program. I have always been a firm believer in the checks and balances way of doing things. Why not have a court, even a secret court, that approves wiretaps? It has been used before while not apparently costing anything.

However there are problems with this system as well. Leaks occur when agencies outside the one performing the taps are informed (via asking permission, etc). Most Court records (even secret courts), become public domain. If this happens while the tap is still in process, vital information can be - and usually is - lost. With a secret court, all wiretap decisions go through a single court, usually only a handful of judges at most, who are appointed, not elected. What's to say they're actually doing what's in the best interest of the country and not themselves or some other agency? At the same time having to get warrants approved can (at times, not always) cost vital time in getting information.

I'm not saying that warantless wiretapping is the right way, however there are just as many problems with the warant system as without. It mostly comes back to what is a resonable expectation of privacy.

I'll leave one more thought to fan the flames:

Privacy is a tool of the guilty, and those fighting unjust laws.

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Anonymous Coward

@ America, seriously...

Due solely to presidential order, criticism of Bush's policy and actions in Iraq can now lead to confiscation of your assets and a brief term behind bars. That is perhaps not altogether surprising given the illegal utter mayhem done by a president who prefers not to honour his dead soldiers and has made it illegal to photograph their coffins. But what is more surprising, a further presidential order lays out an identical sanction as the above for criticism of Bush's policy and actions in Lebanon and Israel - and he hasn't invaded those countries yet. It seems that there will be no protests in the USA of the sort you envisage until the one which storms the White House and carries on till traitors are seen hanging from the lamp posts. That may take decades.

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Heart

@DZ-Jay

Yes, DZ-Jay, you're right, true "democracy" - ie people actually voting on everything - is nothing more than "mob rule", and thus wildly dangerous right now, and no informed person would want such a lowest common denominator of ideas, unless we're all educated to Chomsky levels - well, heh, unless "Fascism of the Chomskys" is too hard a sell - and yes, the US *was* set up as a "Constitutional Republic", with a Constitution designed to protect against both the worst the plebeians could do to it and the worst the rich (and therefore powerful) could do to it.

However, the rich (and therefore powerful) are currently wiping their bottoms with said Constitution.

Will you be voting for one or other of their paid-for political parties? If you think of these parties as two arms, two wings *of the same organisation* - a single organisation that owns your elections, and owns your ass too, as it guarantees you a world where its companies own everything, and these companies' directors are legally bound to make their rich owners as rich as they possibly can, which therefore includes paying the working masses as little as they possibly can, and therefore includes charging the working masses as much as they possibly can for their products... why are you all voting for it?

I do understand that major religions only exist because they force their indefensible ideas into the formative four-year-old minds of children - they get it deep in there amongst the founding ideas of "me" and "the world", as kids' brains are forming. But voting, actually voting, to be a slave of the super-rich? How young did they get you on that one?

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Thumb Down

Business as usual

Guess the fix is in.

It's an ugly thing, the Judaical branch helping the Executive branch tear up the Constitution.

If they allow immunity to the telecoms monopoly then that will set a horrible precident.

In the US anytime a sitting government wants to circumvent some inconvenient rule of law then they just ask a corporation to do it for billions of tax dollars and then grant them immunity afterward.

It's not surprising though.

The US has never been much of a democracy even though it's politicians bandy the word around allot (and use it to justify war).

The US has been called and used to be more of a Representative Republic but now more resembles a Oligarchy.

The only representation is for the wealthy and their corporations with the focus more on corporations. For proof look at US foreign policy and privatization in the US government.

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