Legal battles which involve the government typically are waged over abstract questions as to whether a particular government action (a new law or a President's order) is invalid as being unconstitutional. While such battles can generate substantial emotion, they do not typically implicate government officials personally.Of course, Glenn does not count our three scholars over at the Abscess of Evil, where these boils on the butt of humanity produce commentary like this and this about Judge Taylor's opinion. Greenwald is quoting law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School, by the way.
But the FISA ruling from Judge Taylor is of a much different nature. The question being decided by NSA cases is, effectively, whether George Bush and his top officials, along with those at the NSA following his orders by eavesdropping without judicial approval, are guilty of felonies. As Professor Turley notes, very few people actually believe the answer to that question is difficult to discern:
While Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales insists that the legal authority for the program is clear and filed a notice of appeal with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, few experts outside of the Bush administration support the program. To the contrary, federal law seems perfectly clear in prohibiting warrantless surveillance.
Turley and Greenwald say, gee, it's not nice to talk about it, but the stark implication of Judge Taylor ruling is to say the all the presidents men, and perhaps a woman or two, have committed multiple felonies.
Back to Glenn:
The Justice Department lawyers who approved this illegal program, theWho does that sound like to you boys and girls? That's a rhetorical question; Spot knows that you know the answer.
political officials who ordered it, and the journalists who defended it
(and have enabled this presidency) are all part of the same circle, and
the very suggestion that any of this is actually criminal --
even though it is all being done in violation of the crystal clear
criminal law -- is just too unpleasant, too unruly, too disruptive to
admit. As Turley puts it: "The question of the president's possible
criminal acts has long been the pig in the parlor that polite people in
Congress refused to acknowledge."
But Judge Taylor's ruling --
with its very un-Beltway irreverence towards the President, and free of
the fear of describing the President's lawbreaking as what it is -- is
forcing that question out into the open, which is what explains so much
of the hostility towards Judge Taylor. This judge, unknown to the
Important People in academia and the political power centers, sitting
in her little Detroit courtroom, has broken the rules. She used
language which is uncouth (she pointed out the obvious -- that this
President has pretenses to being a King) and refused to pay homage to
the false orthodoxy that there are really difficult questions triggered
by the President's refusal to abide by the criminal law. How
irresponsible, unscholarly and unserious she is.