Tuesday, April 07, 2009

No Justice for Ordinary Citizens Spied on By Bush

The Obama administration defended his predecessor's domestic spying efforts. "State secrets" were invoked to kill lawsuits against the government. The SF Gate reported:

In a 2006 lawsuit, the AT&T plaintiffs accused the company of allowing the National Security Agency to intercept calls and e-mails and inspect records of millions of customers without warrants or evidence of wrongdoing.

The suit followed President George W. Bush's acknowledgement in 2005 that he had secretly authorized the NSA in 2001 to monitor messages between U.S. residents and suspected foreign terrorists without seeking court approval, as required by a 1978 law.

Congress passed a new law last summer permitting the surveillance after Bush allowed some court supervision, the extent of which has not been made public. The law also sought to grant immunity to AT&T and other telecommunications companies from suits by customers accusing them of helping the government spy on them.

Bush broke the law. Congress covered his backside and the telecoms.

Like the earlier suit, the September case relies on a former AT&T technician's declaration that he saw equipment installed at the company's San Francisco office to allow NSA agents to copy all incoming e-mails. The plaintiffs' lawyers say the declaration, and public statements by government officials, revealed a "dragnet" surveillance program that indiscriminately scooped up messages and customer records.

AT&T donates huge amounts to political campaigns. The Justice Department cited the following reasons to dismiss the lawsuits:

The Justice Department said Friday that government agents monitored only communications in which "a participant was reasonably believed to be associated with al Qaeda or an affiliated terrorist organization." But proving that the surveillance program did not sweep in ordinary phone customers would require "disclosure of highly classified NSA intelligence sources and methods," the department said.

Individual customers cannot show their messages were intercepted, and thus have no right to sue, because all such information is secret, government lawyers said. They also said disclosure of whether AT&T took part in the program would tell the nation's enemies "which channels of communication may or may not be secure."

All information is secret, unless the government accidentally reveals it spied on your lawyers. Then you have no right to sue, since the government didn't broadcast the information. That's Bush/Cheney twisted! America is an endemic spying society. Dismissal of cases is a nail in the coffin of democracy, aptly overseen by the Obama administration.

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