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The massive warrantless spying campaign against people living inside the U.S. which was authorized and ordered by President Bush and is only now coming to light has angered Americans across the political spectrum.
Now it appears that besides massively violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure, this illegal spying may have put the U.S. at risk by undermining the prosecution of possible terror suspects.
By illegally snooping on people’s email and phone conversations, without first making a showing to a judge of some probable cause for the monitoring, the administration has opened the door for defense attorneys to seek new trials for their clients based upon a claim of improperly obtained evidence. Other cases that have yet to be brought to trial may end up being thrown out on the same grounds.
"The infection of these cases by the NSA spying scandal raises the spying to a new level," says John Bonifaz, a constitutional law expert, founder of the organization AfterDowningStreet.org, and author of the book Warrior-King: The Case for Impeaching George W. Bush.
"What this means is that George Bush, by violating the rules on domestic surveillance by the NSA, has compromised national security," says Bonifaz. "This scandal effectively prevents the prosecution of people, some of whom may actually be culpable as terrorists."
Bonifaz, who on the eve of the Iraq war attempted to prevent the invasion by bringing a lawsuit on behalf of some active duty soldiers contending that the war was illegal, and who is currently running for Secretary of State for Massachusetts, says that a round of cases seeking to quash prosecutions and convictions based upon the illegal spying could develop into "the equivalent for Bush of Nixon’s Watergate tapes."
He explains that as the public learns from public court proceedings just what the extent of the NSA domestic spying campaign has been, and how it has damaged legitimate prosecutions, and as higher courts begin to rule on the impact of and illegality of that campaign, there could be growing calls for impeachment on that issue alone.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org