Obama Administration To Argue In Court That They Can Spy On Americans With Impunity
The Obama administration is set to argue to a federal appeals court Friday that the government may breach, with impunity, domestic spying laws adopted in the wake of President Richard M. Nixon’s Watergate scandal.
The case tests whether Americans may seek recourse or monetary damages when a sitting U.S. president bypasses Congress’s ban on warrantless spying on Americans — in this instance when President George W. Bush authorized his secret, warrantless domestic spying program in the aftermath of the September 2001 terror attacks.
The government appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and arguments before a three-judge panel are set to be heard in Pasadena, California, this Friday.
Congress, with the vote of President Barack Obama — who was an Illinois senator at the time — subsequently legalized much of the warrantless spying in the summer of 2008. The legislation also provided the nation’s telecommunication companies immunity from lawsuits accusing them of being complicit with the government’s warrantless wiretapping.
The Obama Administration claims said it cannot be held liable under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act*, and that Congress has not waived sovereign immunity — meaning the government has not consented to being sued for breaching its own laws.