'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ye Olde Wiretapping Lawsuit Round-Up 

Two lawsuits have been filed alleging that the NSA's use of warrantless wiretapping is illegal.

The ACLU filed the first suit on behalf of a number of journalists along with Greenpeace and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. As you may have heard one of the journalists involved, somewhat surprisingly, is Hitchens. I say "somewhat" surprisingly because my general take on Hitchens is that he is a clown. I think he's unserious; I think he likes to shock the rubes and get his picture in Vanity Fair. Anyway, the Guardian has the only statement from Hitchens regarding the suit that I could find:

Hitchens and the other plaintiffs said they feared their email and telephone calls were monitored, compromising their contacts in the Middle East. "People will say it's wartime and we have a deadly enemy, and I agree with that. I was in favour of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan very strongly, but it is even more important in such a time that we don't give away power to the unaccountable agencies that helped get us into this in the first place," Hitchens told the Guardian. "It is extremely important we know what the rules are and there has to be a line drawn. You mustn't turn emergency or panic measures into custom or practice."

"[U]naccountable agencies that helped get us into this in the first place"? -- who the hell is he referring to? The Bush administration? Seriously, this isn't snark -- I'm not getting what he is saying ... is Hitchens talking about agencies such as the CIA doing things like arming Bin Laden's friends to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan?

Another plaintiff in the same case is American Prospect editor Tara McKelvey whose name you might recognize if you followed the links in my recent post about female detainees in Iraq. McKelvey wrote pretty much the only English language exposé on the subject, "Unusual Suspects". You can imagine why she'd be concerned about the US tapping international calls to suspected terrorist-affiliated people: she'd probably spent months of 2004 making phone calls to former inmates of Abu Ghraib... (McKelvey also interviewed me a couple of years ago when "War President" was all the rage -- which is why I recognized the name)

The other lawsuit was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, representatives of whom Richard just interviewed. They're the group who among other things serve as legal counsel for many of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The CCR is obviously concerned that calls to the families of its Gitmo clients are being tapped. As you might recall, the CCR also filed war crimes charges against Rumsfeld, bless their little litigious hearts.

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