Salon carries a story about the only person who may currently have standing to challenge the constitutionality of Bush’s executive spying order. He’s Iyman Faris and he’s not a pretty picture either as a plaintiff or human being. But he has several very important things going for him in terms of providing legal standing to strike back at George Bush’s usurpation of civil liberties in federal court. First, he is one of the only individuals whom government officials explicitly admitted was a victim of the NSA’s wholesale spying operation. Second, it would appear likely that some of the intelligence gathered about him came from these NSA intercepts and was used against him at trial. Third, he’s currently doing time in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges he planned to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches.
Faris’ attorney, David Smith seems to be shopping for a good constitutional lawyer for his client:
“I am sure he would be delighted to sue President Bush,” said Smith, of the law firm English & Smith in Alexandria, Va., who is representing Faris in his criminal appeals. “He may be the only person in the country who can.”
To accomplish this goal, Smith has issued an all points bulletin for civil liberties attorneys and constitutional scholars interested in taking up his client’s case. “If some lawyer would like to sue on behalf of Faris, I would be happy to introduce them,” Smith told Salon Thursday evening. “I’ve got the man here.”
Michael Scherer’s article quotes an American University law professor who provides a rationale for a potential Faris suit:
Legal scholars said that there could be several legal options open to Faris. “The defendant can argue that the search was unlawful so all of the evidence to follow was fruit of the poisonous tree,” said Jamin Raskin, a law professor at American University. Faris may also be able to sue for civil penalties under Title III, the federal wiretap statute, which bars illegal monitoring of electronic conversations. He could also bring a constitutional tort alleging violation of his Fourth Amendment rights, said Raskin.
Without knowing all the details about Faris’ case, I’d guess that a strong case presented by Faris’ attorneys might get his conviction overturned. That would leave just about every major Al Qaeda-related criminal prosecution undertaken by the Bush Justice Department in a shambles. It would also incrementally strengthen the case for impeachment since it’d be another judicial nail in Bush’s coffin.