Friday, March 03, 2006

A Blast from the Past

Last night, at Eschaton, in connection with this topic, we fell into a discussion about how the Attorneys General under Bush had arrogated to themselves powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal Attorneys General, and the subject of breaching attorney-client privilege in the name of "fighting terrorism" had been going on for some time, and how a lawyer was actually charged with a crime, based on a breach of that privilege by the AG.

And could it happen again?

I couldn't remember the lawyer's name, but I did remember a lawyer who had been arrested and convicted in a case where the government violated the attorney-client privilege, and that was just fine with the jury.

This morning, looking for something else entirely, I found that lawyer's name in this now year-old post. Which lead me to look up this post. Does this start to sound familiar?

The complete facts of the case are here (also by Elaine Casell). In sum, "Stewart's supposed support for terrorism instead consisted of aiding her client in 2000 by giving a press release to Reuters News Service in Cairo, Egypt, and of being present when her co-defendants allegedly
aided her client in writing a series of letters." The critical points, ccording to Cassel, are these: (1) Stewart had to agree to a series of SAMS (Special Administrative Measures) in order to be able to represent her client. "What Stewart did not know what that after she signed the SAMs, the government began surveillance of her visits, first under the 1994 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting her client, and then under specific regulations that allowed them to target her." And then things get interesting:

"On October 31, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft, secretly amended the SAM regulations - without notice to the public. As amended, the regulations allow the Bureau of Prisons to conduct videotape and audiotape surveillance with respect to attorneys' communications with people in federal custody....No warrant is necessary for the surveillance to occur. Nor is specific notice to
the attorney or the client that they will be monitored; according to the regulations. Rather, routine notice that their communications "may" be monitored is enough."
There is, indeed, a great deal more going on in the NSA wiretapping case than we know.

And it affects a great many more of us than we realize. And it has much, much deeper roots.

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