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So, did Bush ratfuck a FISA judge?

[For those unfamiliar with the term, ratfucking is a synonym for anti-Democratic dirty tricks.]

It would be irresponsible not to speculate. LA Times:

On Thursday, Justice Department attorneys filed a motion at the 6th Circuit, asking the court to drop further consideration of ACLU vs NSA. [See Don't pop the cork on the champagne yet.]

The lawsuit "no longer has any live significance," said a brief filed by six department attorneys led by Solicitor General Paul D. Clement.

Translation: "Get over it. It's time to move on."

"The surveillance activity they challenge … does not exist. And the specific relief they sought and were awarded … cannot redress any claimed injury because no electronic surveillance is being conducted under the [Terrorist Surveillance Program]."

But "Justice" [gag] claims that the warrantless surveillance program no longer exists because a single, unnamed judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued an order, which the administration wants to keep secret, that purports to bring the program under FISA.

A single, unnamed judge, eh?

Alert reader domga asks an interesting question in WaPo's Bench Conference, Andrew Cohen:

Has it occurred to anyone that the single FISA judge to approve this new oversight may just be a victim of the illegal wiretap program? Oh, I forgot. This administration would never blackmail a federal judge [slightly edited].

Of course not.

Even though the only plausible explanation for the warrantless surveillance program is ratfucking. (Thomas Powell, in an article Glenn should review, after systematically demolishing all the supposed justifications for the program, uses nicer words: "A sharply focused program that delivers something the White House really wants".)

Even though everybody already behaves as if they're being ratfucked (it's a long post; search on "Noonan").

Even though Bush's definition of "national security" is "anything that would cause a Republican an anti-Democrat to lose an election." Even though Bush's warrantless program surveills everyone including Aunt Molly, is obviously directed against Americans, is entirely out of control either by Congress or the courts, and disclosure of exactly who is being surveilled politically explosive. (Note: "Explosive" doesn't apply to you or me, but to Beltway insiders like, oh, federal judges.)

Oh, and I almost forgot. The new Army manual encourages illegal warrantless surveillance by ignoring FISA. That doesn't sound "moot" to me.

NOTE Oh, and if I were running a disinformation campaign like the White House Iraq Group that involved planting over 50 stories in the press, I'd make damn sure to surveill all the reporters, and all of the sources, just to make sure the stories came out the way that I wanted. Wouldn't you? Which would make the Plame affair and the warrantless surveillance two connected dots. Eh?

NOTE From the LA Times article, what the ACLU has to say:

ACLU attorneys, led by Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson, emphasized in their filing Friday that President Bush still claimed he retained the "inherent authority" to engage in wiretapping without FISA court oversight.

"Presumably to protect that supposed power, the government has declined to stipulate that it will comply with the district court's injunction in this case, which merely requires the government to comply with FISA," Beeson wrote. "Moreover, while a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has apparently approved some form of the government's spying program, the government has refused to disclose the [FISA] judge's orders. Whatever those orders do, they do nothing to resolve the ultimate issue in this case: whether the president may lawfully conduct electronic surveillance outside of FISA.

"The government cannot have it both ways," Beeson wrote. "It cannot argue that the case is moot because the government is currently in compliance with FISA, and at the same time expressly retain the authority to violate FISA tomorrow. Because nothing prevents the government from ignoring FISA's requirements after the threat of this litigation has passed, the government has failed to satisfy its heavy burden of showing that this case is moot," Beeson added.

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