Back in August a very big deal was made when U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ordered a halt to the NSA wiretap program initiated by President Bush in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Defense lawyers who had hoped that the public disclosure a year ago of the National Security Agency's wiretapping program would yield information favorable to their clients are being rebuffed by the federal judiciary, which in a series of unusually consistent rulings has rejected efforts by terrorism suspects to access the records.
In at least 17 criminal cases, federal district judges nominated to the federal bench by presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush have ruled against requests to force the government to tell defendants, most accused of terrorism-related crimes, whether the NSA eavesdropped on them without a court warrant.
The rulings indicate that even as public support for the war in Iraq has eroded in polls and as the NSA program has come under criticism from congressional Democrats, and even some Republicans, federal judges may be a bulwark that the Bush administration can rely on to defer to at least some aspects of its wartime policies...
Individually, the judges' orders, often very brief and rarely providing explanations, indicate little. Taken together, however, they signal that the judges are unwilling to permit defense attorneys to use prosecutions to force disclosures about the program.
Now why haven't we heard more about that?