The fallout from the Bush Administration’s domestic spying program being ruled illegal once again has been incredibly mild. A few cover stories in the major papers noted the ruling, but pretty much left it there. Glenn Greenwald tweeted his puzzlement:
Should it be big news if a federal court rules the President violated the criminal law in how he spied w/o warrants on American citizens?
It should, but the culture of accountability has long faded in the United States, replaced with the culture of looking forward and not bankward.
However, Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling may have salience in one Congressional race this year. It happens to be in the district where I’m typing this out.
Marcy Winograd is challenging incumbent Blue Dog Jane Harman in this coastal SoCal district, and she pounced on the ruling from Walker’s court. In her statement (which can be read in full below) she cited some major pieces of information tying her opponent to the crimes. First, as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Harman never objected to the illegal wiretapping program despite having been read into it. In fact, she praised the program repeatedly, and according to documented reports she pressured the New York Times not to publish about the wiretapping program until after the 2004 elections. “On the eve of Bush’s re-election, my opponent pressured the New York Times to suppress a story on the massive illegal wiretaps,” Winograd said in the statement. “In essence, Jane Harman worked to re-elect George Bush.”
And now we have further proof that what Harman was working to keep out of the papers was in fact an illegal program of warrantless wiretapping, for which the US government is criminally liable. And Harman clearly knows this; after all, she was herself wiretapped in conversation with a suspected Israeli agent, and she subsequently expressed outrage at the “abuse of power” of the government listening in on innocent Americans (BTW, unlike the Al Haramain wiretaps, Harman’s was court-approved).
If there’s anywhere in the country where this ruling could have resonance and actually affect an election, it’s CA-36.
The full statement:
(Marina del Rey) Congressional Candidate Marcy Winograd (CA-36) applauds federal judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program was illegal, and questions why her opponent Jane Harman went along so readily with a violation of the Bill of Rights.
Says Winograd, “As a ranking minority leader on the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman had a duty to provide oversight of the Bush administration. Instead, she went along with its law breaking, failing to clearly object to the wiretaps or hold hearings on abuses of executive power.”
Under the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, the National Security Agency monitored American’s email messages and phone calls without court approval, even though the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, required a court warrant.
Adds Winograd, “Yesterday’s court ruling confirms what I have maintained all along — Congress must exercise its oversight powers to ensure that the executive branch never considers itself above the law. In Congress, I will protect and defend our constitutional rights against those who seek to undermine the rule of law.”
Winograd points out that her opponent not only complied with the illegal wiretaps, but also lobbied the New York Times to withhold the truth from the American people. Says Winograd, “On the eve of Bush’s re-election, my opponent pressured the New York Times to suppress a story on the massive illegal wiretaps. In essence, Jane Harman worked to re-elect George Bush.”