Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama Sides With Bush In Spy Case

Slashdot picked up a story in Wired about the Obama administration siding with the Bush administration when it urged a federal judge to set aside a ruling in a closely watched case examining whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish warrantless wiretapping programs designed to spy on American citizens.

With just hours left in office, President George W. Bush asked U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker late Monday to stay enforcement of a Jan.5 ruling admitting key evidence into the case. On Thursday, the Obama administration said in its filing with the court
"The Government's position remains that this case should be stayed"
marking the first time it was clear that the new president was in agreement with the Bush administration's reasoning in this case.

The legal hubbub concerns Walker's decision to admit a classified document as evidence that allegedly shows that two American lawyers for a now-defunct Saudi charity were electronically eavesdropped on without warrants in 2004.

The Obama administration is in agreement with the previous administration in its legal defense of July legislation that immunizes the nation's telecommunications companies from lawsuits accusing them of complicity in Bush's eavesdropping program, according to testimony last week by incoming Attorney General Eric Holder.

A separate case requiring a decision on the constitutionality of the immunity legislation (which Obama voted for as a U.S. Senator from Illinois) brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation is pending before Judge Walker.

See details in Wired.