November 16, 2007
Ruling Blocks Challenge to Wiretapping
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 — A federal appeals court said today that secrecy laws forced it to exclude critical evidence about the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program from being used by an Islamic charity in a lawsuit even though the mere existence of the program could no longer be considered a “state secret.”
The complex ruling was a victory for the Bush administration and signaled trouble for civil rights groups that are trying to show that the eavesdropping program was unconstitutional and to hold telecommunications companies liable for carrying it out.
If you think we are a nation of law (and I do) then you have to scratch your head as courts rule that secrets are too secret to be mentioned and, following that, seem to argue against themselves.
. . . the appeals court spent most of its 27-page ruling explaining why the eavesdropping program should not be considered a state secret. It listed numerous public statements, including those by President Bush, former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales, and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Michael V. Hayden, about details of the program. And it said: “In light of extensive government disclosures” about the Terrorist Surveillance Program, “the government is hard-pressed to sustain its claim that the very subject matter of the litigation is a state secret.”
The government may be 'hard pressed,' but the court is equally 'hard to understand.' There are two points of view about the law; 1) that it should remain so abstruse as to be understood only by attorneys and judges or, 2) that it is the duty of law to be so clear as to be understandable to juries of common men. I champion the latter, but we haven't seen much clarity since we gave up on much of America in order to become a homeland.