The Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping policies won’t be held accountable in the Supreme Court anytime soon. The Court rejected a challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union to begin a lawsuit against the secretive eavesdropping program that began after September 11. They gave no comment on their decision.
After the ACLU sued over the legality of the program, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned them down claiming they couldn’t prove harm. This is where the catch-22 comes up: You can legally sue over the program, but only if you can prove that you were wiretapped. And the names of those who have been wiretapped are kept completely secret by the government. So get it? You basically can’t sue.
“It’s very disturbing that the president’s actions will go unremarked upon by the court,” said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s national security project. “In our view, it shouldn’t be left to executive branch officials alone to determine the limits.”
Now that Congress’ temporary changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act from last August have expired (these changes allowed for legality of warrantless wiretapping and immunity for telecom companies that helped), only existing wiretaps can be maintained and all new wiretaps will technically need warrants.
What happened to checks and balances? If the Supreme Court won’t investigate possible executive wrongdoings, who will?