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Some choice excerpts from Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's opinion (pdf) this afternoon.

From page 23-24: is important to note that if the court were to deny standing based on the unsubstantiated minor distinctions drawn by Defendants, the President's actions in warrantless wiretapping, in contravention of FISA, Title II, and the First and Fourth amendments, would be immunized from judicial scrutiny. It was never the intent of the Framers to give the President such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights. The three separate branches of government were developed as a check and balance for one another. It is within the court's duty to ensure that power is never condensed into a single branch of government." [my emphasis]
From Page 33:
"The President of the United States, a creature of the same Constitution which gave us these Amendments, has undisputedly violated the Fourth [Amendment] in failing to procure judicial orders as required by FISA, and accordingly has violated the First Amendment Rights of these Plaintiffs as well."

From page 40:

"The Government appears to argue here that, pursuant to the penumbra of Constitutional language in Article II, and particularly because the President is designated Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, he has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself.

We must first note that the Office of the Chief Executive has itself been created, with its powers, by the Constitution. There are no hereditary Kings in America and no power not created by the Constitution. So all "inherent power" must derive from that Constitution." [my emphasis]

Earlier this afternoon, a federal judge ordered the NSA to immediately stop its domestic wiretapping program. On a conference call with plaintiffs in the case, a lawyer for the ACLU has said government lawyers have already informed him they would ask the court to stay the injunction.

"We already got a call from the government saying they are going to seek a stay from the district court," Jameel Jaffer told reporters. "We expect that to happen this afternoon."

Update: A Justice Department spokesman declined to confirm this. "I don't know. We have not put out anything," he told me. "We are working right now on putting together our response."

Here's Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's injunction ordering the NSA to stop their domestic wiretapping program immediately:

"IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants, its agents, employees, representatives, and any other persons or entities in active concert or participation with Defendants, are permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly utilizing the Terrorist Surveillance Program (hereinafter “TSP”) in any way, including, but not limited to, conducting warrantless wiretaps of telephone and internet communications, in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (hereinafter “FISA”) and Title III;

"IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND DECLARED that the TSP violates the Separation of Powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III;

"IT IS ALSO ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED with respect to Plaintiffs’ data-mining claim and is DENIED regarding Plaintiffs’ remaining claims;

"IT IS ALSO ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is GRANTED in its entirety.


You can see the document for yourself here. Judge Taylor's full opinion is here.

Wow -- the disaster continues to unfold. From today's Houston Chronicle:

Republican leaders hoping to preserve the party's hold on the district formerly represented by Tom DeLay disagreed Wednesday about a meeting scheduled tonight to seek consensus on a write-in candidate.

Fort Bend County Chairman Gary Gillen wrote a letter to prospective candidates in the county urging them not to attend the meeting, saying it excluded grass-roots Republicans. But his counterpart in Harris County, Jared Woodfill, said the gathering was the best way to unify the party behind a single Republican candidate.

As I noted yesterday, one Republican candidate is already thumbing his nose at the process, saying he'll run no matter what the outcome of the meeting.

The Republicans hope for retaining DeLay's seat is already faint since coaxing voters to write in a candidate's name is notoriously difficult -- but if they can't agree on a single candidate, then the situation fast becomes hopeless.

The disarray has caused one Republican, former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), to publicly endorse the Libertarian candidate. While not a GOPer, he does have his name on the ballot.

AP reporting:

A federal judge ruled Thursday that the government's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit became the first judge to strike down the National Security Agency's program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy.

Update: Here's the complete ruling.

It's not a pretty picture: the night before Duke Cunningham was sentenced and taken into custody, he dumped a duffel bag filled with dirty underwear and $32,000 in $20 and $100 bills in his wife's driveway as a desperate attempt to salvage some of his ill-gotten gains.

That's according to Nancy Cunningham, Duke's estranged wife, who granted an exclusive interview to Kitty Kelley, queen of Washington dirt. Kelley's article will be out in this week's issue of The New Republic, but we got a sneak peek. The piece will be posted online later today.

Mrs. Cunningham (who says she promptly turned that bag of cash over to her attorney) also reveals that Duke -- whom she coldly refers to as "Mr. Cunningham" -- once slept with a knife and then a loaded gun under his pillow; that he frequently threw temper tantrums and once physically threatened Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) because he was passed over for a leadership position; that he planned to strike it big as a lobbyist after he left Congress; and that she called him "Mr. Fun Ball" because of his aggressive flirtation with women.

Nancy Cunningham gave the interview, Kelley says, to demonstrate her ignorance of her husband's misdeeds. But many will no doubt find that hard to believe. Her husband accepted $2.4 million in bribes, and she enjoyed a lot of what that money bought. She didn't become suspicious of the stream of valuable antiques, didn't question her husband's explanation of how they could afford a $2.6 million house (creative financing, a lobbying career), and generally turned a blind eye to his carousing. It wasn't a close marriage, she says.

More later. We'll link to the piece when it's up.

Update: The piece is up here (sub. req.).

From the St. Pete (Fla.) Times:

In the U.S. Senate primary, Rep. Katherine Harris has been touting key political endorsements from fellow Republican lawmakers. The problem is, some of them never endorsed her.

Several members of the U.S. House called the Harris campaign to complain Wednesday after the St. Petersburg Times notified them of the endorsements listed on Harris' Web site. Minutes later, their names were removed.

The list of politicians whose names came down includes Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite of Brooksville, Cliff Stearns of Ocala, Mark Foley of West Palm Beach and Jeff Miller of the Panhandle. . . .

Chris Ingram and Glenn Hodas, who both recently worked on the Harris campaign, said Harris told them to use the endorsements of members even if they hadn't confirmed their support in writing.

Democrats' Stock Is Rising on K Street "Washington lobbying firms, trade associations and corporate offices are moving to hire more well-connected Democrats in response to rising prospects that the opposition party will wrest control of at least one chamber of Congress from Republicans in the November elections.

"In what lobbyists are calling a harbinger of possible upheaval on Capitol Hill, many who make a living influencing government have gone from mostly shunning Democrats to aggressively recruiting them as lobbyists over the past six months or so." (Washington Post)

Read More →

In a thoughtful article on the PBS Web site, network ombudsman Michael Getler says PBS and its show, "To the Contrary," made a mistake -- and may have violated the network's own ethics guidelines -- by failing to tell viewers that an occasional commentator to the show was also a Bush administration official.

"It seems to me that it is a big mistake for the program and PBS — no matter what the Labor Department says — not to make her other full-time association clear to viewers in some fashion," Getler wrote. (Earlier, we reported that show host Bonnie Erbe said the government told her Czarnecki could not be identified as an official.) "If they don’t want to change the on-screen captions, then Erbe ought to at least describe the association verbally to viewers, and state that [Czarnecki] is not speaking for the department. Viewers can understand that.

"If that’s not good enough for the Labor Department, the program should have dropped her. PBS’s credibility is more important than any one guest, and there are lots of smart, female conservative commentators around."

Getler also noted:

It may also be a violation of PBS editorial guidelines which state, within the section dealing with “Fairness,” that: “To avoid misleading the public, producers also should adhere to the principles of transparency and honesty by providing appropriate labels, disclaimers, updates, or other information so that the public plainly understands what it is seeing.”

Via the Boston Globe: Are top Pentagon appointees preparing to admit that maybe they got a few things wrong in Iraq?

This summer, high-level Pentagon officials ordered a pair of secret studies to pinpoint the military's failures in the two conflicts, and, according to one of the authors, ``the results won't be pretty" when the findings are produced this fall. Last week, the Defense Department invited about 50 of the nation's top counter insurgency specialists to a closed-door meeting outside Washington to critique recent operations and chart a way forward.