Bush Administration pressured judge to conceal secret wiretap evidence
January 22, 2009 1 Comment
By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Ever since September 2004, when they were taken to court accused of terrorist links by the US government, the directors of Al-Haramain, a Saudi-based Islamic charity with offices in Oregon and Missouri, have suspected their telephones were tapped under the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. Their suspicions were confirmed last July, when US government prosecutors mistakenly gave the charity’s legal team a classified document showing that the FBI had indeed tapped the group’s office phones. The group’s legal team used the classified document as a basis to sue the Bush Administration, claiming that warrantless wiretapping violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). On January 5, 2009, the presiding Judge, Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker, ruled that Al-Haramain’s legal challenge of the legality of the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping scheme could indeed go ahead. Moreover, he asked the US government “to consider declassifying the secret evidence” relating to Al-Haramain’s prosecution. It has now emerged that the Bush Administration wrote to Judge Walker asking him to reverse his ruling. The communication (.pdf) was apparently dispatched to Judge Walker at 10:56 p.m. on Monday, January 19, 2009 –that is, 64 minutes prior to the end of the Administration’s last full day in power. In the filing, Judge Walker is pressed to reverse his January 5 decision and prevent the disclosure of the secret evidence he has requested the government to provide. The next hearing for the case has been scheduled for this coming Friday.