SCOTUS's Warrantless Wiretapping Punt is a Win for America's Ruling Parties
October 11, 2012 6:00 PM
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SCOTUS, presidential nominees appear united: sometimes due process is just not convenient
In a ruling that has a deep impact on domestic surveillance in the short term, the
Supreme Court of the United States
to review a controversial
U.S. federal circuit appeals court decision
which upheld legal immunity provisions for telecoms who wiretap at the behest of the federal government.
I. President, Romney Unanimous in Support for Warrantless Wiretaps
Removing immunity would essentially leave telecoms unlikely to comply with warrantless requests, as they could be penalized in court by citizen lawsuits for following warrantelss data demands. The basis of U.S. criminal law for centuries has been cornered on obtaining warrants to investigate persons of interest. But over the past several decades, both parties have increasingly argued that
due process is inconvenient
and at times a threat to national security.
The two parties worked hand in hand to grant cooperating telecoms immunity from lawsuits via
"Protect America Act"
of 2007 (
Both Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney support throwing out due process (warrants) in cases where national security is viewed to be at risk -- a policy first put in place by Republican President George W. Bush (with bipartisan support from America's two ruling parties) in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
President Obama and his predecessor President Bush agree on many things, including that the federal government should be granted unregulated spying on its citizens.
[Image Source: WhiteHouse.gov]
Mr. Romney expressed a viewpoint narrowly in line with President Obama's plugging warrantless wiretaps in a recent interview (see below), stating, "If it means we have to go into a mosque to wiretap or a church, then that's exactly where we are gonna go, because we are going to do whatever it takes to protect the American people. And I hear from time to time people say, 'Hey, wait a sec, we have civil liberties to worry about', but don't forget... the most important civil liberty I expect from my government is my right to be kept alive."
In a statement on the SCOTUS ruling, President Obama marched in lock-step with his political rival, with his press office
Electronic surveillance for law enforcement and intelligence purposes depends in great part on the cooperation of the private companies that operate the nation's telecommunication system.
If litigation were allowed to proceed against those who allegedly assisted in such activities, the private sector might be unwilling to cooperate with lawful government requests in the future, and the possible reduction in intelligence that might result is simply unacceptable for the safety of our nation.
The SCOTUS did not explain why it made its decision to punt in this case. The only evidence that it made the decision at all is
a note in the case docket
stating the case will not be heard.
That silent nod to the prevailing sentiment on The Hill is
a win for America's two ruling parties
, who are unanimous in their belief that the right to "be kept alive" (by the government) mandates spying on citizens without due process now and then.
II. Opponents Continue to Fight on
Of course civil liberties advocacies like the
Electronic Frontier Foundation
(EFF), and a handful of politicians like
Rep. Ron Paul
He argues that the American political system has been hijacked by zealots,
, "The PATRIOT Act was written many, many years before 9/11, [the attacks simply provided] an opportunity for some people to do what they wanted to do..."
"Democracy isn't all that healthy in this country because if you're in a third party... you don't get in the debates... And if you ever come to the conclusion -- heaven forbid -- that the two parties aren't all that different, then what is left really?"
Ron Paul is one of the few politicians to support keeping due process, even in the face of the nebulous "terrorist" threat. [Image Source: NBC]
EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl concurs, adding:
By passing the retroactive immunity for the telecoms' complicity in the warrantless wiretapping program, Congress abdicated its duty to the American people. It is disappointing that... [the courts] endorsed the rights of telecommunications companies over those over their customers.
But in the current political climate voices like the EFF and Rep. Paul's are mere whispers in a sea of shouts of support. Without saying a word, the punt by America's most powerful federal court in effect adds one of the loudest voices yet in support of warrantless wiretaps, although it leaves the door open for later revision, should America's political climate drastically change.
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RE: "Ruling Parties" ???
10/12/2012 4:39:14 PM
The simple fact is millions of Americans have created a conspiracy theory where they convince themselves they have no say in anything, so they can keep going on abdicating their responsibility to someone else.
"Why vote, the corporations control everything"
"Why follow politics? Both sides are the same"
"Our Government is bought and paid for by lobbyists, I don't have the money, so why should I care?"
And the excuses go on and on. Jason Mick clearly knows how to tap into this slacker cynicism that's plagued our nation as more and more people convince themselves life is easier if they just no longer care.
RE: "Ruling Parties" ???
10/13/2012 4:11:36 PM
You're full of crap as usual. For someone who pretends to always occupy the high ground, why don't you do something that would actually be productive -- like some real work?
Plaguing the comments section of this site hardly establishes you as being anything but an armchair rhetorician. Once in a great while you say something that's sensible, but the pitifully low signal to noise ratio certainly doesn't justify the amount of time you spend here.
Go do some real work. Use that vast intellect (ha!) for something that actually will make some sort of difference.
RE: "Ruling Parties" ???
10/13/2012 6:57:56 PM
You keep voting and nothing changes I refuse to vote for these Muppets put in front of us.
Get your rose colored glasses off that you can change anything because you cant. Your either in the club running the show or your not. I am certain your not in the club so keep on dreaming or spreading your vote pipe dreams. America is finished it is nothing of which it claims.
As for me I am just wanting for CLUB to run itself out due to hyperinflation, the show will last a little while longer but it will end.
RE: "Ruling Parties" ???
10/13/2012 7:02:46 PM
Go study some Cybernetics then maybe you will have a clue. We are cows on a farm being managed with more and stricter rules and regulations.
"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates
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