Specter Gives In

In a shocking development, GOP senator Arlen Specter HAS been (past tense) pushing hard for a clause in a pending bill that would force (well, maybe) the administration to actually seek a legal judgement on the legality of the NSA domestic spying program.

In a not so shocking move, he’s given in, and no such clause will be in the final bill. The more Right-wing members of his committee are apparently opposed to any sort of judicial oversight on executive power. Glenn Greenwald:

Without the provision which was originally “demanded” by Sen. Specter, it is basically impossible for any plaintiff to ever challenge the legality of the NSA program. In very general terms, in order to have standing to bring such a suit, a plaintiff would have to prove that they have been specifically injured by the warrantless eavesdropping beyond the injuries of an average citizen. But the program is secret and there have been no investigations into it. As a result, nobody knows whose calls have been intercepted without warrants. Therefore, any would-be plaintiff would be immediately trapped in the type of preposterous, bureaucratic Catch-22 in which American law specializes and which the Bush administration is eager to exploit — namely, since nobody knows whose conversations have been eavesdropped on, nobody could ever make the showing necessary to maintain such a lawsuit, and since the administration claims that all such information is highly classified, the evidence necessary to make that showing can never be obtained. Thus, in the absence of the provision in Sen. Specter’s bill, the administration would be able, in virtually all circumstances, to block a ruling on the legality of the NSA eavesdropping program…

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