In Supreme Court Case, Obama Tries to Block Challenges to Illegal Surveillance

John Glaser, October 29, 2012

The Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments in Clapper v. Amnesty International, a case which will determine whether or not the government’s warrantless surveillance of American citizens can be challenged in court, even when the specifics of the program are secret.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was enacted by Congress in the 1960s and 70s and regulates the government’s conduct of intelligence surveillance inside the United States. In 2001 – following the 9/11 attacks – President Bush illegally authorized the National Security Agency to launch a warrantless wiretapping program, in breach of FISA “and in 2008 Congress ratified and expanded that program, giving the NSA almost unchecked power to monitor Americans’ international phone calls and emails,” the ACLU explains.

Court challenges to the government’s new surveillance laws have come forth since 2001, but the government has typically stopped the judicial process in its tracks, arguing that the case cannot proceed because aspects of the program must remain secret for national security reasons and that plaintiff’s don’t have “standing” to challenge the law unless they know for sure they have been surveilled.

Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director, participated in the oral arguments on Monday and firmly told the Supreme Court justices that the new FISA surveillance laws are unconstitutional.

But “the constitutionality of the global spying is not directly at issue,” writes Lyle Denniston at the SCOTUS blog. ”[T]he sole issue is whether anyone has a legal right to file a lawsuit against it.”

“As part of its concerted campaign to prosecute whistleblowers and to classify state secrets,” writes Jeff Rosen at The New Republic, “the Obama administration has taken a position in Clapper that makes the Bush administration pro-secrecy campaign seem pale in comparison: namely, that no one can challenge warrantless surveillance unless the government tells you in advance that you’re being surveilled—which national security interests prevent it from doing.”

The New York Times called the Obama administration’s position in the case “a particularly cynical Catch-22: Because the wiretaps are secret and no one can say for certain that their calls have been or will be monitored, no one has standing to bring suit over the surveillance.”

The Obama administration has fought tooth and nail to keep the details of its surveillance activities hidden from the public. For years it has insisted that its snooping on Americans’ phone and email communications fell perfectly within the law. But last month, the ACLU, “after months of litigation,” was provided with some internal documents that showed a dramatic increase in surveillance of Americans:

So while it is now known that the government has been increasingly spying on its own citizens without warrant, an abominable violation of basic constitutional rights, the government is trying to say that unless specific cases of surveillance are known, which is impossible because of their own secrecy, the courts cannot challenge these blatant violations of the law.




38 Responses to “In Supreme Court Case, Obama Tries to Block Challenges to Illegal Surveillance”

  1. I like the answer of this German Scholar when he was asked about terrorism and Islam: He said:

    ·Who started the First World War, which killed 37 million and injured 22, 379, 053 that includes 7 million civilians?Muslims?
    ·Who started the Second World War, which killed over 60 million, which was over 2.5% of the world population?Muslims?
    ·Who killed about 20 million of Aborigines in Australia? Muslims?
    ·Who drop the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed 166,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki? Muslims?
    ·Who killed more than 100 million Red Indians in North America?Muslims?
    ·Who killed more than 50 million Indian in South America?Muslims?
    ·Who took about 180 million African people as slaves and when 88% of them died, threw them into the Atlantic Ocean? Muslims?
    NO They weren’t Muslims! First of all, you have to define terrorism properly…. If a non-Muslim does something bad… it is crime. But if a Muslim commits the same, he is a terrorist. So first remove the double standard… then come to the point.
    *** Just for your information ***
    I like the answer of this German Scholar when he was asked about terrorism and Islam: He said:

    ·Who started the First World War, which killed 37 million and injured 22, 379, 053 that includes 7 million civilians?Muslims?
    ·Who started the Second World War, which killed over 60 million, which was over 2.5% of the world population?Muslims?
    ·Who killed about 20 million of Aborigines in Australia? Muslims?
    ·Who drop the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed 166,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki? Muslims?
    ·Who killed more than 100 million Red Indians in North America?Muslims?
    ·Who killed more than 50 million Indian in South America?Muslims?
    ·Who took about 180 million African people as slaves and when 88% of them died, threw them into the Atlantic Ocean? Muslims?
    NO They weren’t Muslims! First of all, you have to define terrorism properly…. If a non-Muslim does something bad… it is crime. But if a Muslim commits the same, he is a terrorist. So first remove the double standard… then come to the point.
    *** Just for your information ***

  2. This is a universal truth what you wish for others will knock the doors tomorrow. If the america are loosing their freedom is not a problem as they have already robbed freedom of other nations in the name of Terrorism.
    America will destroy themself as they need no enemy as they are enemy of themself. America has become biggest dictastorship in the name of democracy and human rights. They decieve their nation even the institutions have become robust and impossible. Back bone of every siciety is justice which suffering under emegency laws.
    This is not normal that I write hard comments as america is no more a country of love but hatred, Their citizens are victim of their politicians,
    god bless america

  3. [...] Read Entire Article [...]

  4. [...] In Supreme Court Case, Obama Tries to Block Challenges to Illegal Surveillance « Antiwar.com Blog. Related Posts:Above the Law: Court Throws Out Warrantless Wiretap Suit — News from [...]

  5. Yet Muslims didn't have a problem, like their Christian counterparts, in expanding their own empires and taking people as slaves. They also gladly participated in WW1 and WW2. There is plenty of blood to go around and certainly no justification on either parties behalf for their present behavior.

  6. Excellent piece, John. I am looking forward to the transcripts of the oral arguments. The Wash Post story today sounded like there are at least 3 or 4 Justices willing to let the govt. bury everything.

  7. Jim, the transcripts are already available. See the first hyperlink in the piece.

  8. There ya go. Thank Ford he's the lesser of two evils and that's why we must all blindly and sheepishly vote for him because this time around, he really, really, really will do what he promised.

  9. Surely you jest with that comment.

  10. The Obama administration has fought tooth and nail to keep the details of its surveillance activities hidden from the public.

    I can't decide which is more intelligence-insulting and laughable: the idea that Obama (or rather, the body of kleptoligarchs he fronts for) really believes that this body of black-robed legal tyrants will rule against him, or that he really believes that we think his fear of losing his case is genuine.

  11. If you think USA started WWI & WWII…you REALLY need to read your history, unless you're just listening to propaganda. It's all there in black and white in encyclopedias, millions of books & movies. And WWII, really? We saved the world from Hitler who wanted to kill just about everyone and almost wiped an entire nationality! JEWS. You can't blame America.We dropped the bomb to STOP the war.Come on. And who started the slave trade? Not America.Come on…You just sound uneducated.

  12. Read carefully- the quote never said that the murderers it was mentioning were only from America. The point is that they were NOT MUSLIMS. But they were white people, in all cases.
    And I think such vehement defense of the only country that has ever used an atomic bomb on another country deserves closer examination.

  13. [...] http://antiwar.com/blog/2012/10/29/in-supreme-court-case-obama-tries-to-block-challenges-to-illegal-… Share this:TwitterFacebookMoreEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Uncategorized.Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment [...]

  14. Actually, it was the SU not the US that defeated the Nazis and liberated most of the death camps. And saying so does not make me a supporter of Stalin, its just basic familiarity with the period. Speaking of sounding ill-educated…

  15. I am a proud card holding Republican woman. I wanted to be for Mitt Romney
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  16. I am a Republican Christian woman, but i refuse to vote for a guy
    that is involved in a cult religion (Mormonism) that believes in
    multiple wives, magic metal plates and the planet Kolob.

  17. I am a Republican Christian woman, but i refuse to vote for a guy
    that is involved in a cult religion (Mormonism) that believes in
    multiple wives, magic metal plates and the planet Kolob.

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  19. [...] In Supreme Court Case, Obama Tries to Block Challenges to Illegal Surveillance « Antiwar.com Blog. Share this:ImprimirCorreo electrónicoTwitterFacebookMe gusta:Me gustaSe el primero en decir que [...]

  20. [...] and regulates the government’s conduct of intelligence surveillance inside the United States. … Read more Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogle +1LinkedInTumblrPinterestEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to [...]

  21. A very interesting read and a great post alltogether. thanks for sharing this information.

  22. So Rightlady7625, conservativegirl, and Candace are three different people? Right. Anyway, Christianity is just as much a cult as Mormonism.

    And Carol you calling someone uneducated while making your glaringly ignorant comment is beautiful. Russia was the major reason for Hitlers defeat. Also, there is proof that FDR waged economic war on Japan for the sole purpose of forcing them to attack Hawaii so that he could garner public support to enter the war. Dropping the bomb to end the war? Truman received word that Hirohito wanted to surrender and he said no, dropped the bomb and murdered close to 300k people then accepted the very terms of surrender he casually dismissed previously. We dropped the bomb to show Stalin that we could. That is America’s noble gift to the world.

    You really shouldn’t call people uneducated when it’s clear you yourself are.

  23. Carol you have misread the article, BUT you are also wrong in your assertions;
    1. The USA entered WW1 and 2 after years of aiding both sides and making profits, then pretended to have won the wars.
    2. jews are not a nationality, and it was also socialists, communists, handicapped people, gypsies, homosexuals,unionists who were targeted.
    3. You are very uneducated to still pretend the dropping of atomic bombs was to stop the war. Try reading any modern text. A good example is "A History of Bombing" by Sven Lindqvist.

  24. Why such a massive increase in the past two years? Is it something substantial or just because they know they can get away with it now?

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  26. [...] In addition to how easy it is for the government to snoop on your electronic communication while following legal protocol, there is also the pressing issue of illegal, warrantless surveillance which the Obama administration has fought tooth and nail to preserve. [...]

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  30. Court challenges to the government’s new surveillance laws have come forth since 2001, but the government has typically stopped the judicial process in its tracks, arguing that the case cannot proceed because aspects of the program must remain secret for national security reasons and that plaintiff’s don’t have “standing” to challenge the law unless they know for sure they have been surveilled.φωτιστικα

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