Wednesday, May 3, 2006

 

Feds Go All Out to Kill Spy Suit

`When the government told a court Friday that it wanted a class-action lawsuit regarding the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping on Americans dismissed, its lawyers wielded one of the most powerful legal tools available to the executive branch — the state secrets privilege. [..]

In this case, the government will be asking a federal judge in California to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T for its alleged complicity in warrantless government surveillance of its customer’s internet and telephone communications. The EFF alleges that AT&T gave the government access to a massive phone billing database and helped the NSA spy on its customers’ internet use. [..]

Judges almost invariably agree to such requests, according to William Weaver, a law professor and senior adviser to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.

“It’s like one of magic rings from The Lord of the Rings,” Weaver said. “You slip it on and you are invisible — you are now secret.

“Ostensibly judges could have flexibility, but they have not done that,” Weaver said. “There has never been an unsuccessful invocation of the state secrets privilege when national security is involved. The (EFF) suit is over.”‘




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