Connect with us

News and Views

Court Rules Against Bush Wire-Tapping Policies Used Against Closed Muslim Charity

Published

Bismillah walhamdolillah.

U.S. Ordered to Pay Group of Muslims
By ERIC LICHTBLAU

WASHINGTON — A federal judge ordered the government on Tuesday to pay nearly $2.6 million in lawyers’ fees and damages to officials with a shuttered Islamic charity in Oregon who the judge said were wiretapped without a court order under the surveillance program approved by President George W. Bush after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The ruling by Vaughn R. Walker, the chief federal judge in San Francisco, punctuates a years-long lawsuit that tested the balance between civil liberties and the president’s authority.

The Justice Department did not immediately say whether it would appeal the ruling.

The dollar amount of damages is relatively insignificant for the government. But the principle the judge first laid out in a March ruling and expanded on Tuesday was critical to all parties.

For charity officials and their lawyers, the ruling offered vindication in a case that the Justice Department fought largely by relying on the president’s executive power and the government’s claim to keep certain “state secrets” out of the judiciary.

“We brought this case to try and get a declaration from the judiciary that the executive branch is bound by the law,” said Jon Eisenberg, a lawyer who represented the charity, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation.

The judge awarded more than $2.5 million in legal expenses accrued by lawyers for Asim Ghafoor and Wendell Belew, officials with Al-Haramain’s Oregon affiliate who the judge said were wiretapped, and he awarded the two officials each $20,400 in damages.

Judge Walker refused to grant punitive damages based on the claim that the wiretapping under the National Security Agency program showed “reckless or callous indifference” to the plaintiffs’ rights. Judge Walker said that the government “had reason to believe” that Al-Haramain supported acts of terrorism.

However, he criticized the way that Bush officials went about approving in secret a wiretapping program that operated outside the bounds of judicial scrutiny and in conflict with surveillance rules set by Congress. (from the New York Times website)

As the article points out, the victory is not in the amount of the ruling. Rather the ruling testifies to the Bush Administration’s lack of respect for US law.

This case involved one charity, but wiretapping use was widespread. Still this victory will only have meaning if the US abandons not only specific outlawed practice(s) but also the hubris and outlaw-mentality that condoned these injustices in the first place.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Bismillah walhamdolillah. May Allah accept my repentance and yours. I am an attorney, a stepfather, a husband, a son, and a Muslim. Studying Islam is a means, reflecting what I have learned is a must, and to Allah is the inevitable return. If you would like my help, know that Allah is the source of all aid. If you would like to contact me, try tariqnisarahmed at Gmail, LinkedIn, Twitter, or add me as a friend on Facebook.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

Sign up below to get started

Trending