Judge orders halt to warrantless spying program

Court says Bush's program violated FISA, Fourth Amendment and the separation of powers.

Published August 17, 2006 4:39PM (EDT)

A federal judge in Detroit has just ruled that George W. Bush's warrantless spying program is unconstitutional and must be halted immediately.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor wrote that the warrantless wiretapping program "has undisputedly been implemented without regard to [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] ... and obviously in violation of the Fourth Amendment." Taylor also held that Bush's orders authorizing the program "violate the separation of powers ordained by the very Constitution of which this president is a creature."

Consistent with the Supreme Court's reasoning in the Hamdan case, Taylor rejected the Bush administration's claim that Congress gave the president power to engage in warrantless spying when it authorized him to use force in the wake of 9/11.

Quoting the late Chief Justice Earl Warren, Taylor wrote: "Implicit in the term 'national defense' is the notion of defending those values and ideas which set this nation apart ... It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of ... those liberties ... which make the defense of the nation worthwhile."

The ruling comes in a lawsuit the ACLU filed in January on behalf of scholars, journalists and others who feared that their calls might have been subjected to warrantless government monitoring.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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