As I recounted in Salon in July, lawyers for the Bush administration have gone to extreme and even bizarre lengths in their attempts to prevent the federal courts from determining the legality of the president’s warrantless electronic surveillance program. A key problem for them is a top-secret document that the Treasury Department accidentally disclosed to Al-Haramain’s lawyers in 2004. The document confirmed the surveillance of our clients, and thus, we contend, their legal standing to sue as victims of the program.Given thousands (or millions?) of people spied upon, eventually somebody is going to gain a foothold of legal standing to sue.
—More evidence of Bush’s spying, Why the White House can no longer hide the truth about its warrantless surveillance of Americans. By Jon B. Eisenberg Salon.com, 12 September 2008
Oh, my, it gets better:
But since the July 2 ruling, we have discovered additional evidence of surveillance of our clients. In fall 2007, FBI deputy director John Pistole gave a speech at a conference of bankers and lawyers in which Pistole thanked the bankers for their cooperation in giving the FBI financial records for terrorist financing investigations, and then went on to describe the FBI’s 2004 investigation of Al-Haramain. In the text of the speech — which is posted on the FBI’s Web site — Pistole explicitly admitted that the FBI had used “surveillance” among other “investigative tools” in the Al-Haramain investigation, noting that “it was the financial evidence that provided justification for the initial [terrorist] designation” in February 2004.I’ve got to wonder whether the FBI director didn’t know that he was providing standing, or whether he did it deliberately because he’s tired of this legal charade and wants warrantless wiretapping to stop before the eventual lawsuits tar his agency even more than it already is.
If Al-Haramain wins, perhaps the next step would be to sue the government officials who authorized those illegal wiretaps.