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Obama sides with Bush to Wiretap and Spy
09 abr 2009
Neither U.S. Congress nor the courts—determined what NSA electronic surveillance could be used by police or introduced into court by the government to prosecute citizens.
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Obama Embraces Bush Position on Warrantless Wiretapping

DOJ Claims Illegal Surveillance Protected by "Sovereign Immunity", Keeps Straight Face

The federal government has finally responded to Jewel v. NSA, a lawsuit against dragnet warrantless wiretapping filed last September by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

In a motion filed on Friday, April 3rd, the Obama Dept. of Justice (DOJ) demanded that the entire lawsuit be dismissed based on both the Bush administration's claim that a "state secrets" privilege bars any lawsuits against the executive branch for illegal spying, as well as a novel "sovereign immunity" claim that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance, unless there was "willful disclosure" of the illegally intercepted communications.

According to EFF senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston, "this is the first time [the DOJ] claimed sovereign immunity against Wiretap Act and Stored Communications Act [SCA] claims. In other words, the administration is arguing that the U.S. can never be sued for spying that violates federal surveillance statutes, whether FISA, the Wiretap Act or the SCA."

Since at least 2001, AT&T and other major telecommunications carriers have apparently been engaged in a massive operation allowing the NSA to eavesdrop and record all voice and data communication. On Sept. 18th, 2008, San Francisco-based EFF filed a lawsuit in federal court against the NSA on behalf of five California AT&T customers to stop the ongoing surveillance of their telephone and internet communications. The plaintiffs are also suing the President, Vice President and other officials who ordered or participated in the warrantless wiretapping.

Press release | EFF case info | Previous coverage: EFF Files Lawsuit Against NSA, Bush, Cheney to Halt Dragnet Surveillance

End of IMC San Francisco Article

By, Dan Scott

Neither U.S. Congress nor the courts—determined what NSA electronic surveillance could be used by police or introduced into court by the government to prosecute citizens.

In 2004, former Attorney General John Ashcroft asked government prosecutors to review thousands of old intelligence files including wiretaps to retrieve information prosecutors could use in “ordinary” criminal prosecutions. That was shortly after a court case lowered a barrier that blocked prosecutors from using illegal-wire tap evidence in Justice Dept. “Intelligence Files” to prosecute ordinary crimes. It would appear this information, may also be used by government to prosecute civil asset forfeitures.

Considering this court case, it might be possible for NSA to share its “recent” electronic-domestic-spying with countless U.S. police agencies; including government contracted--companies and private individuals that have security clearances to facilitate seizing Americans’ property—-to keep part of the bounty. Police too easily can take an innocent person’s hastily written email, fax or phone call out of context to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause an arrest or asset forfeiture.

There are over 200 U.S. laws and violations mentioned in the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 and the Patriot Act that can subject property to civil asset forfeiture.” Under federal civil forfeiture laws, a person or business need not be charged with a crime for government to forfeit their property.

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