Seeks Dismissal of Criminal Corruption Case Due to 'Repeated, Deliberate...Violations of Congressman's Attorney-Client Privilege'
Charges DoJ Had Been Listening in on Republican Strategy Phone Calls...
By Desi Doyen on 10/16/2008, 5:07pm PT  

Guest blogged by DES

The Hill reports today that defense attorneys for Congressman Rick Renzi (R-AZ) have filed a motion to dismiss 35 charges of corruption stemming from a sweetheart real estate deal, claiming the federal government secretly and illegally wiretapped Renzi's cell phone.

Ironically, Renzi appears to have been caught up in the very same warrantless wiretapping that he supported as a Congressman...

Renzi’s legal team, fighting 35 criminal counts brought by the Department of Justice (DoJ), contends that the federal government recorded portions of a conference call involving the entire House Republican Conference --- days after the mid-term elections when Democrats won control of Congress.

In one of many legal motions filed on Wednesday, Renzi’s lawyers stated, “The Justice Department recorded calls in which Congressman Renzi engaged in sensitive discussions concerning the leadership and direction of the House Republican Party with other members of Congress, including candidates for the leadership.”

[T]he Renzi legal motion states, “on April 19, 2007, during the Attorney General’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee hurriedly executed a search at Congressman’s Renzi’s family insurance business, without even signing the warrant papers…”
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The lawmaker’s attorneys are calling on the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona to dismiss all the counts against the lawmaker for a variety of reasons, “including the government’s repeated, deliberate, and continuing violations of [the] Congressman’s attorney-client privilege.”
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[T]he government initially indicated it would monitor only certain phone calls, according to Renzi.

Yet, Renzi’s motion claims, the government did not abide by that promise.

Of course Renzi's defense team will throw everything under the sun to get their client off the hook, but it is an example of a surveillance-happy Republican hoist on his own petard. Perhaps Renzi would like to go back in time to revise his many votes in favor of the Bush Administration's domestic surveillance activities.

Last week, more wiretapping abuses were revealed, as noted by Glenn Greenwald, and of course, widely ignored by the corporate broadcast media:

In the most unsurprising revelation imaginable, two former Army Reserve Arab linguists for the National Security Agency have said that they routinely eavesdropped on --- "and recorded and transcribed" --- the private telephone calls of American citizens who had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. The two former NSA employees, who came forward as part of journalist James Bamford's forthcoming book on the NSA, intercepted calls as part of the so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program," whereby George Bush ordered the NSA in 2001 to eavesdrop on Americans' calls in secret, without first obtaining judicial approval as required by the law (FISA). That illegal eavesdropping continued for at least six years --- through 2007.
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Faulk told Ross: "when one of my co-workers went to a supervisor and said: 'but sir, there are personal calls,' the supervisor said: 'my orders were to transcribe everything'." He said that the intercepted calls included highly personal and intimate conversations and even phone sex.

One final note: if broad, unchecked domestic spying powers led to "unintentional" wiretapping of the Republican Congressional leadership's strategy sessions in a case unrelated to their organizational planning, it does beg the question of how many secret wiretaps have led to surveillance on Democratic leadership strategy sessions.