Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Terrorist defense attornies will use NSA wiretaps as loopholes for defendents

They'll try at least. Anything for their clients

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 - Defense lawyers in some of the country's biggest terrorism cases say they plan to bring legal challenges to determine whether the National Security Agency used illegal wiretaps against several dozen Muslim men tied to Al Qaeda.

The lawyers said in interviews that they wanted to learn whether the men were monitored by the agency and, if so, whether the government withheld critical information or misled judges and defense lawyers about how and why the men were singled out.

The expected legal challenges, in cases from Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Virginia, add another dimension to the growing controversy over the agency's domestic surveillance program and could jeopardize some of the Bush administration's most important courtroom victories in terror cases, legal analysts say.

The question of whether the N.S.A. program was used in criminal prosecutions and whether it improperly influenced them raises "fascinating and difficult questions," said Carl W. Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who has studied terrorism prosecutions.

As Cheat-Seeking Missiles put it, the other shoe has dropped. Despite what I believe is a completely legal [UPDATE @ 4:31: more on their legality here] use of presidential authority, these measures enacted to ensure the security of our great nation will continue to be dragged from secrecy into the limelight. Hopefully it causes no further damage to the country's security (I say further because the simple "outing" of the program has made it rather ineffective for future use as the terrorists have no doubt heard of it at this point and will take countermeasures to combat the surveillance's effectiveness).

[...]Government officials, in defending the value of the security agency's surveillance program, have said in interviews that it played a critical part in at least two cases that led to the convictions of Qaeda associates, Iyman Faris of Ohio, who admitted taking part in a failed plot to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge, and Mohammed Junaid Babar of Queens, who was implicated in a failed plot to bomb British targets.

David B. Smith, a lawyer for Mr. Faris, said he planned to file a motion in part to determine whether information about the surveillance program should have been turned over. Lawyers said they were also considering a civil case against the president, saying that Mr. Faris was the target of an illegal wiretap ordered by Mr. Bush. A lawyer for Mr. Babar declined to comment.

Yep. Nevermind that the program worked, that it has helped lead to convictions of terrorists on our soil. Ah, lawyers. You can't live with 'em, and you can't shoot 'em.