Let me be among the last to comment on the decision of Chief Judge Vaughan Walker of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco to the effect that the Bush Administration's warrantless electronic eavesdropping on Americans is not only illegal, but as Dan Froomkin tells at Huffpo, the Obama Administration can stick its "state secrets" assertion up its tush too.
This is one of those things that kind of give the public the correct impression that in sheer cojones, the Republicans have a humongous edge over their pathetic Democratic "colleagues." The Republicans, of course, brought articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton for nothing (technically, under the perverse definitions stipulated to in the perverse Paula Jones case, Bill Clinton did not "have sex" with Monica Lewinsky.)
By contrast, George W. Bush bragged about breaking the law, specifically the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and its requirement that electronic eavesdropping of Americans requires a warrant. Folks, that is the clearest "high crime and misdemeanor" ever committed by an American President-- and it goes right to abuse of the office itself. Naturally, because David Broder might accuse them of being not only mean but soft on terrrrrrror... the Democrats did nothing (except amend the applicable law to provide more protection for Bush and less protection for American citizens, of course) thus, reinforcing the popular, and accurate, view, that the Republicans are simply more ballsy... assuming, of course, that "ballsy" is what we value in our politicians, which without doubt, many Americans believe. Anyway...
Fast forward to the present, and the case of the Al Aramain charity, which unlike everyone else, actually had documentary proof that the Government spied on it, has overcome the usual weasel-way the Government gets out of these cases by establishing that its "standing" was not hypothetical, but that it was actually spied on. Forced to consider the merits of such a case, Judge Walker reached the only possible conclusion: the Bush program, as duly supported by the Obama Administration is illegal. Not "justifiable because we're at war with
the Klingons the Third Reich al Qaeda..." but because there ain't no such exception in the law: the Government needs a warrant. Not hard... in practice, not too difficult at all... but the Bush Administration (and its successor) want no accountability at all, ever.
Hey, what can I tell you? Sometimes... a crime is just a crime.