Government Wiretapping Defense Lawyers in Terror Cases

The New York Times reports that the Bush Administration's wiretapping of defense lawyers in terror cases in Oregon is having an effect nation-wide:

Sean M. Maher, a New York lawyer who is a co-chairman of the national security committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said he knew talented private lawyers who were refusing to take on terrorism cases because of potential violations of their privacy, including monitoring of their communications with clients. That fear has grown as a result of the disclosures in Oregon, Mr. Maher said.

Lawyers who agree to defend terrorism suspects in cases involving classified information are required to undergo background checks that can include an F.B.I. review of their financial and medical records, including records of psychiatric care.

“People just aren’t going to get involved in this process,” Mr. Maher said. “I find it unfathomable that in our adversarial system, we’ve created a process to weed out qualified defense counsel.”

Background on the Oregon wiretapping is here.

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    It is too bad (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by dem08 on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 11:57:42 AM EST
    that posts on Wright get so many comments that you have to close them out, while wonderful and fairly unique in the Blogosphere posts like these get a stray hit or two or three.

    What does it say that people care less about loss of Civil Liberties than about a Pastor who is not even on the ballot?

    We are so sophisticated, and I mean to indict myself too, I am a typical partisan, that we care about the horse race and all the ways we can divide ourselves up into them and us, but we don't care too much that:

    the government engages in these kind of actions against LAWYERS;

    that, the SCOTUS (as they say on the internet) decided that even if an action, photo id's, falls hardest on the poor and old and those who move, and even if the motivation was for the political gain of the affluent political party, so what?

    Who cares about the poor or Civil Rights or The Bill of Rights? Obama's Pastor is filled with hate. That is the important issue in this election.

    Very well said.... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:10:03 PM EST
    it never ceases to amaze me the things that get people fired up about, while the really important sh*t is relatively ignored.

    Sure explains the sad shape liberty is in, people take it for granted, and one day we will wake up in a police state, if we all didn't already wake up in a police state this morning.


    Well Yes (none / 0) (#8)
    by squeaky on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:29:36 PM EST
    But if wiretapping were on a ballot, iow we had a say, the thread would fill up more quickly. Besides, most of the traffic here in the last few months is from single issue bloggers, and that is what they do, comment on one thing only, the election.

    First, hobble all the lawyers? (none / 0) (#10)
    by jawbone on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:37:12 PM EST
    Or, better, hobble the lawyers who represent those who are poor or with few means of buying protection.

    Without good defense attys, it's so much easier to bamboozle juries or just get the alleged perps to fold and plead.

    It's one more way around out Constitution which occasioally does make raping and pillaging the society more difficult.

    Yes, I cop to some hyperbole.


    I agree with another poster (none / 0) (#16)
    by waldenpond on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 02:08:51 PM EST
    that more people would participate in this discussion if it were on the ballot.  Many of us still get involved by continuing to contact our reps on all of these issues and forcing a position.  Even if people don't comment, isn't it important that we get are informed at to what is going on and can get active in the issues that are important to us?  I came to this site for the info it has, not necessarily to post.

    I'd like to pose (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by AnninCA on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 01:24:36 PM EST
    a defense here.

    I follow crime closely.  I can absolutely ensure you that I'm more informed about major cases than 95% of people.

    But here's how I look at it.

    I'm weird.  

    Not the public.

    I'm the weirdo.

    My kid is grown now.  I'm not obsessed with my career as in the past.

    So I have time to follow the stories.

    Who in real life does?

    And thank God, they don't!

    So I don't begrudge those who tell me that Hillary is proposing a single-payer healthcare plan.  LOL*

    They are just in that stage of life where news hits them about once every 3 days.

    Haven't you ever been there?

    I personally missed the entire Monica Lewinsky scandal in life.....due to teens, divorce, and career restructuring.

    I personally like to wiretap people (none / 0) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 11:17:07 AM EST
    who know less about law, but that's just me.

    It is not (none / 0) (#2)
    by Molly Pitcher on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 11:35:49 AM EST
    Bush-lite.  It is Bush-Heavy, as in the old movie where the bad guy was called the 'heavy.'

    Some read 1984... (none / 0) (#3)
    by Marco21 on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 11:41:04 AM EST
    and thought it was a terrifying work of fiction about an abusive, authoritarian country. Others read it and thought it was a business plan.

    Aaaaaack! (none / 0) (#4)
    by madamab on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 11:50:13 AM EST
    My Outrage Tourette's is acting up.

    Seriously, we should just call warrantless wiretapping the Democrat Surveillance Program. They only use it to wiretap their political enemies, which now, apparently, include lawyers who think the law is important.

    This is beyond (none / 0) (#5)
    by facta non verba on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 11:54:49 AM EST
    the pale. Unacceptable.

    Is his reign (none / 0) (#9)
    by AnninCA on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:30:38 PM EST
    over yet?

    These stories make me feel ill.

    gah (none / 0) (#11)
    by boredmpa on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:40:40 PM EST
    It's not surprising :/  

    Offtopic(?) But I already refuse to apply to certain jobs because their security "risk analysis" is poorly designed and arguably classist, racist, sexist, and homophobic.  And the "Full medical and disclosure and credit checks are required" statement is usually stated right above or below the EEO statement...hilarious.

    It's bad from a civil rights/respect issue, but also because people self-select out, so they get lower quality workers (in this case lawyers) and weed out anyone with different points of view and discourage those with strong ethical standards.  The organization (govt) loses big time and so do the people it serves.

    IMHO, a revision to the Civil Rights Act would actually fix many of these problems (though not the political view/1984 aspects or lawyer confidentiality issues of wiretapping).  It simply needs to be revised to contain stronger policies and/or reporting so that Government is held to the same standards as businesses.  Right now the executive is basically exempt--it makes it's own rules.  Whereas everyone else has to make sure they don't create patterns of hiring/retention/promotion that lead to discrimination.  Simply having that threat of suit  leads to higher quality hiring processes and a lower chance of misuse/insensitivity--in the private sector unnecessary credit checks can be seen as a lawsuit risk.

    My favorite public sector story: a SF police dispatcher polygraph that asked a lesbian (as a control question) why she was dressed the way she was...

    and..."have you ever done anything that would be considered amoral?"

    Wrong on sensitivity, wrong from a measurement perspective, and wrong from a management perspective.

    Sometimes people do not overcomment (none / 0) (#12)
    by BarnBabe on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12:50:54 PM EST
    in Legal diaries because we are just not the experts on different legal subjects. That does not mean they are not read and we might have opinions but choose to be lurkers in those diaries for fear of being chastised for not knowing what we are talking about, speaking only for me.

    But this one is pretty obvious. Intimidate the best of the best so that they will not get involved defending 'presumed guilty by the government". I hope one of the first things Hillary does in the WH is to restore HC.      

    Blood Lust? (none / 0) (#15)
    by squeaky on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 01:28:24 PM EST
    And revenge once again fueling your comments. Do not speak for most americans, speak for yourself. We know that you are not remotely embarrassed about abu ghraib nor bothered about torture.