Judge to Bush: Produce wiretap memos

A judge has ordered the Justice Department to produce White House memos that provide the legal basis for the Bush administration’s post-Sept. 11 warrantless wiretapping program.

U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. signed an order Friday requiring the department to produce the memos by the White House legal counsel’s office by Nov. 17. He said he will review the memos in private to determine if any information can be released publicly without violating attorney-client privilege or jeopardizing national security.

Kennedy issued his order in response to lawsuits by civil liberties groups in 2005 after news reports disclosed the wiretapping.

The department had argued that the memos were protected attorney-client communications and contain classified information.

But Kennedy said that the attorney-client argument was "too vague" and that he would have to look at the documents himself to determine if that argument is valid and also to see if there is information that can be released without endangering national security.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said Saturday the department is reviewing the opinion and will "respond appropriately in court."

Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush authorized the National Security Agency to spy on calls between people in the U.S. and suspected terrorists abroad without obtaining court warrants. The administration said it needed to act more quickly than the court could and that the president had inherent authority under the Constitution to order warrantless domestic spying.

After the program was challenged in court, Bush last year put it under the supervision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, established in 1978 after the domestic spying scandals of the 1970s.

"We think just as a common sense matter the legal theories for the president’s wiretap programs cannot be classified and should be available to the public," said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, one of the groups seeking the memos.

"It’s an important decision because up to this point the judge has relied on the government’s assertion that it has done everything properly under the law and that it has disclosed everything it needs to disclose," Rotenberg said Saturday.


On the Net:

Court ruling: http://tinyurl.com/5c5g4j

Electronic Privacy Information Center: http://epic.org/

The National Security Archive: http://www.gwu.edu/(tilde)nsarchiv/

American Civil Liberties Union: http://www.aclu.com/

Justice Department: http://www.usdoj.gov/


  1. Lillibet

    Sadly but truly–again a non-choice election.

    The Senate retains its advise and consent powers on judges, so not too much worry there. If checks and balances are restored, even a bit at first, it will go a long way to restoring the Republic to health. Because of checks and balances more likely to be honored by the Democrats than the Republicans (based n the past 8 years), I fear Obama less than I fear McCain.

    Also, after playing in the DC Sandbox for the past few years, I am fairly certain that Mr. Obama’s views have been burnished, refined and gone less radical than taking those few matters out of context might imply.

    Yet, neither is a great selection. This is, once again, a vote for the lesser of two evils election, leaving one evil remaining–for the “choice”. No matter who wins, with the Republicans and Democrats so alike in so many ways, there is in fact no choice for anyone. In many ways, both major party candidates share a huge amount of views on where to lead the country. Lillibet

  2. Kibitzer


    Unfortunately the Constitution may continue to be in exile, regardless of who wins/gets the votes tomorrow. The Repubs obviously like a war president, who can do any damn thing he decides, because he’s the Decider; and McCain is happy to continue to be at war for ‘however long it takes’. As for Obama, the Repubs have just surfaced a radio interview with him taped in 2001 wherein he outlines his take on the Constitution: that it didn’t go far enough; only deals with “negative liberties” – ie, what the state can’t do to the citizen – but doesn’t deal with “what the federal government must do on your behalf”. That is, Justice taking her blindfold off and making decisions as a respecter of persons.

    Far-fetched? Negative. He went on to comment on how his “criteria” for selecting his judges will be on the “empathy” they demonstrate – ie, making decisions not based on their heads but their “hearts”. That is to say, not based on the law, but on their personal, liberal proclivities. He even said the Warren Court was not as “radical” as it could have been (contextual implication: should have been).

    He is, then, indeed, a true radical. The Repubs, then, indeed, are right about him. Maybe we should have listened to them. After all, it takes one to know one.

    The Constitution? Oh – that…

    …which we will have to take back without recourse to either of the political parties currently in power in America. They have both sold out TO the power that corrupts.

    So Lillibet: a short break from the battle. And then we need to get right back to it….eternal vigilance, and all that.

  3. Lillibet

    Real “New Pearl Harbor” December 12, 2000–

    That was the day the Constitution was tossed aside in favor of Scalia’s “Get over it” hand off of the office to the Usurper in Chief. Had Mr. Bush allowed the votes to be counted, and had the actual counting revealed his winning the office, there would be no problem with his being president. As the votes weren’t counted at the time, with actual counting revealing Bush didn’t really win, and reality basically bites, there is and has been eight years of opposition to his holding office based upon the counting of the votes. That would be the real counting, revealing a Gore and Kerry victory in both recent elections.

    Alas, the Constitution was more than ripped December 12, 2000. It was summarily shredded in early 2001 when the wiretapping began in February. Months before buildings exploded in lower Manhattan, the 4th Amendment was exploded, taking with it, most of the Bill of Rights on a painful, 8 year ride to Perdition.

    Heaven help us if we have an early call of the race for the Republicans, with another concession found to be unwarranted by later counting. It happened in 2000, and in 2004. The mid-terms were also filled with races that went to the Red but should have remained true Blue.

    I hope I am not the only one looking forward to an end of my 8 year crying jag, mourning the Constitution in Exile since that day of infamy, December 12, 2000.

  4. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    A significant number of D-Crappers went along with Bush’s shenanigans voting for retro-active immunity for Telecoms spying illegally on Americans emails & phone calls.

    Hairy Reed is amongst the D-Crappers who voted for Retro-Active immunity for telecoms.

    Obama voted for Retro-Active immunity for telecoms.

    I will still vote for Obama but not for any D-Crapper senators or congresspeople. The D-Crappers that voted for Retro-Active immunity for Telecoms must be meted out some form of punishment for coddling Bush and that is why I will not vote for any D-Crappers other then Obama -which is my concession to the D-Crappers. I will hold my nose and vote for Obama dispite his treachery of coddling the telecoms.

  5. JudyB

    The dishonorable, dishonest, unconscionable and truely inept GWB along with his CO-HORTS, will ride in their limos off into the sunset, UNPUNISHED without ever caring about the havoc and anguish they have wrought….albeit with blood stained hands and pockets filled filthy lucre!