March, 23rd. New York City - Today Sean Patrick Maloney, former senior Clinton White House official and investigative attorney running for the Democratic nomination for New York Attorney General, revealed a fresh idea to "legalize" the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program using a complaint that can be filed in federal court.
The complaint would seek a federal court order requiring the Bush Administration to comply with the law. The plan does not stop, compromise or hamper ongoing operations but instead compels the Bush Administration to appear in federal court, in secret session, to show cause for wiretapping any citizens of New York.
It is against New York state law to monitor communications over the phone without consent of the parties or without a court order. The benefit to New Yorkers, who cannot sue on their own behalf because the wiretapping is secret, is to initiate judicial oversight of the Bush Administration's program.
Maloney said, "As a New Yorker, I am committed to stopping, capturing, punishing or killing the terrorists who target America for attack, but I am also committed to the rule of law in this country, or at least this state. George Bush is not above the law.
"My plan both fights terrorism and protects New Yorkers' privacy from unauthorized or unconstitutional government intrusion. It does not compromise or halt ongoing anti-terror operations. It legalizes them. It's clear the Bush Administration is operating outside of New York law without legal federal authority."
There is recent case law and precedent for state attorneys general to act against federal actors who break state law and are acting outside of congressional authority. The Oregon Attorney General successfully sued then-United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, stopping him from undermining that state's assisted suicide law (analogous to New York's wiretapping law) without Congressional authorization to do so (as with the NSA's actions here).
The Maloney campaign is supporting this idea with the first paid television ads of the campaign for Attorney General. Entitled "Good Question" the 30-second spot, which airs statewide starting today, makes the charge that the President is outside his authority in using warrantless wiretaps and is violating New York state law. In the ad, Sean Patrick Maloney asks, "The founding fathers didn't trust George Washington with unlimited power, so why would we trust George Bush?"
Makes me feel all proud to be an Irish-American.