Documents cited in federal court by a defunct Islamic charity may provide the first detailed evidence of U.S. residents being spied upon by President Bush's secret eavesdropping program, according to the organization's lawsuit and a source familiar with the case.The problem here is that conversations between a lawyer and his clients are supposed to be priviledged (an issue that generated a very intense amount of debate when I posted my Dkos dairy on Stephan Heller: the Diebold Whistle-blower). But these guys aren't just guessing that they might have been surveilled (as is the case with the ACLU suit), they know it.
The al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi organization that once operated in Portland, Ore., filed a description of classified government records in a lawsuit Tuesday and immediately asked a judge for a private review.
According to a source familiar with the case, the records indicate that the National Security Agency intercepted several conversations in March and April 2004 between al-Haramain's director, who was in Saudi Arabia, and two U.S. citizens in Washington who were working as lawyers for the organization.
This lawsuit appears to be the first to cite the government's own documents of intercepted conversations and e-mails as the reason to suspect NSA surveillance. The government has acknowledged that it targeted Iyman Faris, who pleaded guilty in 2003 to plotting to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, for surveillance under the NSA program. Several convicted members of a group described by prosecutors as Virginia jihad network have said they believe they were targets of surveillance. The government has said it either has no evidence to support the allegation or is still investigating.
This appears like it just might be the first court case to challenge the legal validity of President Bush and Attorney General Gonzales claims that the NSA Wiretaping program is "legal" and inherently Constitutional. Meanwhile Arlen Spector and the Senate try an ex post facto end run as they frantically put together their own re-writing of FISA to include the NSA program (a rewrite which codifies the lawlessness of the Presidents current practice of a 45-day review of the program by moving it to within the purview of the FISA Court itself, withouting bother to address the 4th Amendment probable cause and warrant issues)
Considering the Rocky History of previous Presidential Spying suits, we just might have the beginings of another Kieth case no our harnds. (Keith: The landmard decision where President Nixon attempted to argue his "inherent authority" to spy on War protestors, suspected communist or anyone who basically pissed him off - and failed).