Who needs rights anyway?

>> Monday, December 8, 2008

I often wonder if people who claim not to be bothered by the government spying on them 24/7 would hold those views if the government actually spied on them then threw them in prison without revealing that the evidence to do so was from the spying. I imagine that they would be rather unhappy to have that evidence, that could clear their name withheld. Too far-fetched? Not so.

A Congressional oversight panel plans to ask the National Security Agency to start an investigation into new evidence that the agency illegally wiretapped a Muslim scholar in Northern Virginia and concealed the eavesdropping during a 2005 trial in which the scholar was convicted on terrorism charges.
Prosecutors described Mr. Timimi as the spiritual mentor to a group of young men in Northern Virginia who were convicted of giving material support in Kashmir to Lashkar-e-Taiba — the separatist group blamed by the Indian authorities for the recent attacks in Mumbai. Several of the Northern Virginia men had received paramilitary training in Pakistan, apparently at the urging of Mr. Timimi, but there was no evidence that they had taken part in any terrorist attacks.

Mr. Timimi’s lawyers maintain that the N.S.A., without acquiring court-approved warrants, used the eavesdropping operation approved by President Bush weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks to wiretap his communications, and that the interceptions might include evidence that would point to his innocence in what they regard as a free-speech case. They charge that the government has intentionally withheld that material despite repeated requests.

If this man is such a bad guy and the evidence was so strong what prevented the government from tapping the phone and going to the court afterward and getting the warrant? Why cut corners and taint evidence? The eavesdropping operation was actually put into place before Sept 11 but that's beside the point. The point is that this is simply lazy and an unnecessary infringement on our rights. It offends the basic tenants of justice.

The right to have the evidence that is going to be presented against you and the governments evidence that may exonerate you is essential in any fair and just judicial system. The Times article goes on to suggest that there is a strong chance that the government did in fact hold out on evidence of eavesdropping. This is serious misconduct on the governments part. It is this type of misconduct that leads to putting the bad guys back out on the street or preventing their trial. It hurts our country.

Cases like this one reinforce the need to fully explore the perfidy of the Bush admin and examine in depth everything that went on in regards to law enforcement and antiterror operations. The number of abuses will probably be legion. So far the most commonly advanced plan is for a commission that lets everyone know what went on but provides no actual consequences for those involved and lets us move on with no real pain or accountability. Even this though is a point of contention and will probably never happen because of dem spinelessness.

Some Democrats have called on Mr. Obama to establish an independent commission that would examine the wiretapping program, interrogation tactics used on prisoners, and other tactics used by the government in its campaign against terrorism since the 2001 attacks.

Republicans in Congress who support the N.S.A. program say that Democrats have been too eager to investigate issues that have long been resolved.

Nothing to see here. All in the past. The idea that these issues have long been resolved is a farce. I wish the times had actually gotten people on the record instead of simply hanging their hat on the generic "some demorats" and "republicans in congress". Names and actual quotes of these people. Law makers should not be giving anonymous quotes on this stuff, especially if they simply want to sweep it under the rug.

The point of the times article was to talk about the NSA Inspector General launching his own investigation into the matter. forgive me if im not overconfident in that report. I have never been a fan of the intra-agency investigation system. i prefer to have independent investigators to avoid any possible attempts by the agency to cover its misdeeds. independent investigation and actual prosecutions are the only way to prevent this from repeating the next time a president or intelligence agency is so inclined to violate the laws.


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