Thursday, January 08, 2009

State Secrets Defense Rejected in Wiretapping Case

Slashdot references a report in Ars Technica of a federal judge ruling that a lawsuit filed by an Islamic charity alleging illegal wiretapping by the National Security Agency may proceed.

The case, Al Haramain v. Bush, stands out in that unlike the Electronic Frontier's more widely publicized suits agains the NSA and cooperating telecoms, the plaintiffs here know that the directors of the charity were specifically subjected to warrantless surveillance, thanks to a government faux pas that put a classified memo in the hands of the charity's lawyers.

Judge Vaughn Walker, who has been handling a raft of suits concerning the NSA's super-secret Stellar Wind program decided that the charity could seek to show they'd been spied upon using public evidence.
"Without a doubt," he wrote, plaintiffs have alleged enough to plead 'aggrieved persons' status so as to proceed to the next step in proceedings."
The Justice Department repeatedly tried to try to block the suit by invoking national security concerns. At one point, Walker described the government's argument "without merit" and characterized another argument as "circular".

See complete report at Ars Technica.