DOJ losing ground in wiretap fight
President George W. Bush's allies have more to be worried about in the federal courts than just Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's decision that the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program is both illegal and unconstitutional and ordered that it be halted. Indeed, if the legality of the NSA's surveillance program ends up before the U.S. Supreme Court -- where many observers think it's headed unless Congress manages to intervene -- it's unclear whether Taylor's ruling in Detroit will be the case that got it there. That's because Justice Department lawyers are currently engaged in tough battles related to the surveillance program in three other federal courts.
The DOJ's efforts to keep a lid on the program have been made more difficult by several factors. Among them: a whistleblower in California, the accidental disclosure of a secret document by the Treasury Department and a legal strategy by some opponents that has challenged the NSA program indirectly by targeting the telecom companies accused of illegally providing the government with customer data.
Additionally, federal judges in New York and Oregon have yet to rule on suits the Center for Constitutional Rights and a defunct Islamic charity have brought that could prove as thorny for the government as the ACLU's.