Hey, the hypocritical ACLU can't have it both ways.
It should at least line the stories up of its different chapters!
On the one hand, Jameel Jaffer from the national office is on the warpath against what he sees as an unconstitutional use of secret courts in the case of Jamshid Muhtorov (which I've written about for three years, the latest here).
He doesn't think the FBI should get to use the content of wire-taps secured through secret FISA court decisions (which activists call "warrantless wiretaps" even with this judge's approval simply because they don't like the secret court that issues it -- secret not because of Evil Amerika, but because the material is classified and related to law-enforcement's need to pursue suspects effectively without tipping them off.)
Jameel is challenging the use of the FISA court in Muhtorov's case -- which amounts to asking the judge to throw out the evidence that the feds obtained because Muhtorov did the classic thing for which these courts exist (after the same thing happened with 9/11): he called a number from the US abroad to Turkey, which connected to the Islamic Jihad Union, a group part of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan which had attacked US troops, Uzbek and other government buildings, and civilians. Muhtorov collected money and equipment for this group and was on his way to meet them when he was arrested at the airport. The system worked; he was stopped. The trial will show whether he should be sentenced for this activity and whether the evidence with or without the FISA court warrants it (it isn't the only evidence in his case). But that his arrest was justified isn't in question; of course you arrest a guy at the airport whom you've discovered is planning things with the Islamic Jihad Union and bringing them assistance.
One court in Washington has ruled that this kind of surveillance is unconstitutional -- based on the complaint of some truthers who *think* they were being bugged by the government but can't prove it -- they refer only to some clicking sounds they think they heard on their phone.
Another court in Manhattan has ruled that this kind of surveillance is constitutional -- 9/11 made that clear. So this will go all the way to the Supreme Court! Good! That means the ACLU doesn't decide it; the Supreme Court does.
Meanwhile, in the Massachusetts ACLU, Kade (onekade), a staff person there, invokes the uselessness of these FISA courts and these surveillance "dragnet" methods of gathering metadata (like when somebody calls the Islamic Jihad Union!) because he thinks they never find any terrorists anyway. They are useless for their avowed purpose and supposedly harm everyone's privacy along the way. I don't believe that -- but he does.
Well, they did find a suspect using these methods -- Muhtorov -- and there are three or four other similar Uzbek cases. But one hand doesn't want to know what the other is doing at the ACLU.
So Kade ignores this and claims that because the FBI didn't find the Tsarnaevs' plans in time to stop them, then this sort of surveillance is useless. As if the Muhtorov case didn't exist, and wouldn't be exploited by the ACLU in the other direction of this argument.
Of course, we see how the ACLU actually is when we really have a case where the feds did watch someone and stop them before any terrorism is used at home or abroad. They try to get the suspect off on the technicalities of the FISA court and their view of it. That's how they really are. They don't really want to catch the Tsarnaevs; they'd be the first to scream "Interneting while Muslim" if Tamerlan were held merely because of his violent jihad YouTubes or his phone calls to some sketchy people in Dagestan -- not to mention his stay there.
As I've been saying for a year, the Russians did not tell us everything -- and now I've been vindicated on this by the Times revelation recently. Yet there are still people like Kade bleating that we don't need surveillance via FISA courts by the NSA or any other agency because it is useless and never achieves anything.
I hope the news media will pick up on this blatant hypocrisy and double standard. Again, what we can see when we juxtapose the two cases is that the ACLU isn't really concerned about effective work against terrorism by law-enforcement -- I don't think they've ever met or ever will meet a law-enforcement action against terrorism they'd approve of. They're also not really concerned about if in fact they can't prove all our rights are violated when individual suspects are targeted. It seems to be impossible for them to admit that there are good FISA cases. But they have a lot of explaining to do. Jameel has to explain why the Muhtorov case in fact doesn't show that there is a good reason for secret FISA courts and this case is one of them. Kade has to explain why he thinks the Boston bomb case is the last word on whether surveillance is effective -- when it was in intercepting Muhtorov.