Yesterday, lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainees asked a federal judge in San Francisco to invalidate the recently-passed FISA law that lets the Bush administration conduct warrantless surveillance on suspected terrorists without first getting court-approved warrants.
“We are asking your honor, as swiftly as possible, to declare this statute unconstitutional,” said Michael Avery, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights. … “Neither Congress nor the president has the power to repeal the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirements,” Avery said.
In CCR v. Bush, the Center is arguing that the government’s surveillance jeopardizes its ability to represent Gitmo clients. CCR reports that it has engaged in thousands of telephone calls and e-mails with people outside the United States in the course of its representation.
The Center writes, “Given that the government has accused many of CCR’s overseas clients of being associated with Al Qaeda or of being of interest to the 9/11 investigation, there is little question that these attorneys fall within the likely range of victims of the NSA Surveillance Program.” CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren said:
It is virtually certain that the NSA spied on our confidential communications with our clients as well as conversations with other American attorneys outside of the U.S. The president violated his oath of office to faithfully execute the laws of this nation and instead secretly broke the law for years to spy on Americans. He has taken an axe to the Constitution.
Anthony Coppolino, a special counsel to the Justice Department, refused to rebut the challenge to the new law. Copppolino offered this defense: “It’s possible that their clients were and it’s possible that their clients were not” spied on.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has not indicated when he will rule on the case.