Since I seem to mention StopTheACLU so often, I thought I should have a shorter way to refer to them. STACLU seems to fit the bill; a slightly longer version – stacluelessness – seems a fair description of their problem. A perfect demonstration is this post full of that trenchant analysis you’ve come to expect from them:
Today is the day for the ACLU’s attack on the NSA terrorist surveillance program in Detroit. The ACLU wants the program completely shut down. The plaintiffs don’t really even have a case sense (sic) they have absolutely no evidence that they have been spied on.
Ah, the catch-22 of government secrecy – they refuse to get warrants even from the secret FISA court, which means that there’s no way of knowing who they’re spying on or why they’re doing so. And the fact that they won’t say who the’re spying on means that no one has any standing to challenge that spying in court. What a perfect way to insulate executive actions from all checks and balances. And remember, these bozos who wrap themselves in flag-waving pseudo-patriotism are now arguing that the President should have not only unchecked but uncheckable authority to spy on anyone they choose, by any manner they choose, including American citizens, without complying with the constitution. Can you think of anything more un-American than that?
This Orwellian logic is repeated by the government attorneys, who are demanding that not only does the President have this unchecked authority, but that no court has any authority to even consider the constitutionality of any presidential policy so long as the president says it’s a matter of national security. From the AP article on today’s hearing:
The ACLU said the state-secrets argument is irrelevant because the Bush administration already has publicly revealed enough information about the program for Taylor to rule.
But government attorney Anthony J. Coppolino told the judge that the case cannot be decided based on a “scant public record.”
“This case does not involve easy questions,” he said. “It’s a case that requires a robust factual record.”
Well yes, it does. In order to decide whether the program is or is not constitutional, the court has to know who is being spied on, by what means, and for what purpose. But the administration’s position is that the courts cannot even look at such evidence, even if the court operates in secret (which is why they refuse to go to the FISA court). This isn’t about secrecy. If they wanted to, they could submit for warrants to the FISA court, which has turned down far less than 1/10th of a percent of all warrant requests in its history.
That court operates in secret, so none of the factual information they would have to file to justify their warrant would be made public. The fact that they refuse to do so strongly suggests two things. A) they’re lying when they claim that secrecy is the reason for their policy of ignoring the proper court authorities for issuing warrants for the gathering of foreign intelligence; and B) they know that the facts don’t support a finding of probable cause and thus they won’t get approval of the warrants.
Which means that what they really mean when they say that they can’t lay out the factual record is that they know that record does not meet the constitutional requirement (read the 4th amendment, the standard is in there quite explicitly) for the issuing of such warrants. So the Bush administration’s solution is to simply cut out the FISA court entirely, then claim that no other court is secret enough to review the evidence. It’s a perfect little force field they’ve built up around their policy, a force field that guarantees that no one other than the President himself gets to even look at the matter to decide whether it’s constitutionally legitimate or not. In other words, total executive control with no checks and balances whatsoever.
And then we have other staclueless people like Sean Hackbarth, writing at The American Mind:
Suppose Judge Anna Diggs Taylor agrees with the ACLU and orders the program shut down. Is the ACLU willing to accept responsibility for another terrorist attack on U.S. soil? It’s easy to preen about civil liberties in the abstract when not all the facts are known.
It’s even easier to claim that the other side can’t make their case because they don’t have all the facts while refusing to make the facts known. This is rather like breaking a man’s leg and then criticizing him for walking with a limp.