January 5, 2009 / by emptywheel


Vaughn Walker Will Review the al-Haramain Document

Threat Level is reporting that Judge Walker–who is overseeing several of the FISA suits against the telecoms and the government–will review the log of warrantless wiretapping of lawyers representing the Muslim charity al-Haramain to determine whether or not the lawyers were spied on illegally.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said the lawyers’ amended lawsuit, even absent the classified document, showed there was enough evidence for the case to continue. The amended lawsuit pieces together snippets of public statements from government investigations into Al-Haramain, the Islamic charity the lawyers were working for and, among other things, a speech about their case by an FBI official.

"The plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to withstand the government’s motion to dismiss," Walker ruled in a 25-page opinion (.pdf). Walker said the nation’s spy laws now demand that he view the classified document and others to decide whether the lawyers were spied on illegally and whether Bush’s spy program was unlawful.


Walker’s decision Monday came six months after he ruled that he could look at the Top Secret document in private to see if the surveillance was illegal, but only if the lawyers could first find independent evidence they were allegedly spied on in violation of how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was written at the time.

On Monday, Walker ruled: "To be more specific, the court will review the sealed document ex parte and in camera. The court will then issue an order regarding whether plaintiffs may proceed — that is, whether the sealed document establishes that plaintiffs were subject to electronic surveillance not authorized by FISA."

This will finally put Bush’s behavior in ordering illegal wiretapping under scrutiny by a judge. It’s a far cry, yet, from putting Bush in the pokey for his illegal acts. But at least it is judicial review.

Copyright © 2009 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/2009/01/05/vaughn-walker-will-review-the-al-haramain-document/