Saturday, February 23

ACLU - The Company You Keep - Update

When outside the US I had always assumed that the US Government was listening in, at least tracking where the call came from and where it was going as well as having a computer listen in on the conversation, provided that they didn't have more interesting calls to listen in at that moment. After all, the calls were coming across the border and I always understood that the Government had the right to search anything crossing the boarder, like your luggage, and mail, so why not phone calls as well. Here is a simple explanation of Custom's right to search:
Be aware that under U.S. law, CBP officers are authorized to examine luggage, cargo, and travelers. Under the search authority granted by the U.S. Congress, every person who crosses a U.S. border may be searched and questioned about their travel. To stop the flow of illegal drugs and other contraband into our country, your cooperation is appreciated.
Of course, after 9/11 the Government decided to carry out wiretapping of foreign calls in secret until it was outted by a seditious press to be doing exactly this. Their problem was not only were they taping conversations, but that they were doing it without first getting a warrant. Had the calls been taking place entirely in the US, then yes, a warrant would have been required, but in these cases either one or both parties to the phone conversation were outside the US.

The ACLU fearing (rightly so in my opinion) that their lawyers were 'victims' of this eavesdropping, because of their ongoing communication with suspected terrorists and terrorist sympathizers, sued the Government to stop the program. Back in 2006 I reasoned that since you have no right to privacy when crossing the border, then you shouldn't expect a right to privacy when communicating over it either.
So who gave these interest groups the illusion that communicating across the border is somehow sacred? Sure their communications within the US are protected. What about the Government on the other side of the conversation. Do they expect the Pakistani Government to respect their right to privacy? What about the Saudis? Listening to the news, you would think that those filing the lawsuits are somehow victims. Well they have to sound like victims in order to sue. But they have made a huge error portraying that the Government is spying on them.

The program concentrated on the communications of suspected terrorists and their associates. If the Government did obtain their phone or email details, then it was because they either contacted or were contacted by one of these people of interest. Sure, they might be dealing with these people in the course of their jobs. This does not let them off the hook. THEY chose to associate with these people. THEY chose to represent these people. People who were in the country ILLEGALLY. People who were fighting in Afghanistan in violation of the Geneva Convention, and are now detailed in Gitmo. People who are suspected of killing Americans. People who are going to be charged with crimes against the United States.

Those suing are claiming that they communicate with suspected terrorists. After all, this is who the Government is ‘spying’ on. - Jan 2006
Interestingly enough, the Supreme Court has just declined to hear this case, after a lower court decided that the ACLU couldn't prove that they had been harmed by the law. In order to prove that they were harmed by the law, they needed evidence that they were spied on, which they couldn't get without the case going ahead and the Government provided data to confirm their allegations. Of course, it would have been easier to prove their point had the Government gone and arrested some ACLU Lawyers as a result of the wiretapping, but that hasn't happened. (At least not yet)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court dealt a setback Tuesday to civil rights and privacy advocates who oppose the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The justices, without comment, turned down an appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union to let it pursue a lawsuit against the program that began shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The action underscored the difficulty of mounting a challenge to the eavesdropping, which remains classified and was confirmed by President Bush only after a newspaper article revealed its existence.

"It's very disturbing that the president's actions will go unremarked upon by the court," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's national security project. "In our view, it shouldn't be left to executive branch officials alone to determine the limits."

The Terrorist Surveillance Program no longer exists, although the administration has maintained it was legal.

The ACLU sued on behalf of itself, other lawyers, reporters and scholars, arguing that the program was illegal and that they had been forced to alter how they communicate with foreigners who were likely to have been targets of the wiretapping.

A federal judge in Detroit largely agreed, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs could not prove their communications had been monitored and thus could not prove they had been harmed by the program. - AP

By their own admission, they are communicating with people that the Government is likely to be tracking. We already know that lawyers have assisted their terror clients in the past. So what is their problem? Maybe the Government wiretapping will allow the government to learn that their clients are innocent!

By the way, what is the American Civil Liberties Union doing representing people who are not Americans and are not living in the United States? This would seem to be outside their bounds. Aren't there any needy Americans who could use heir assistance?

Still unanswered in all this is the real possibility that the Government where the other end of the phone conversation is taking place is listening in on their conversations. That is where the real risk lies for them and their clients because some of those Governments have facilities that make GITMO look like a vacation resort.

Funny, despite all the commotion, nobody is in jail in the US because of what was heard during a foreign wiretap. This is much like the fake rage over waterboarding. All that hot air and it has only been used on three very evil people, and that was years ago. (Not including the clown below who was waterboarded by his fellow protesters.)

The Company You Keep - 18 Jan 06

1 comment:

Robin Storm - In Search of Severe Weather. said...

Actually the entire matter on both sides is a red herring. FISA is still in place and if the USG wants to wire tap they can at any time. The Administations claim that Congress is endangering the Country by not passing a bill that holds harmless all phone companies from any illegal wire taps it laughable. While their are tons of other more important issues that the intelligence community needs adddressed that does effect the safety of this Country, that neither this Administration or Congress is addressing....