August 15, 2007 4:40 PM PDT

Appeals court may let NSA lawsuits proceed

SAN FRANCISCO--A federal appeals court on Wednesday appeared unwilling to end a pair of lawsuits that claim the Bush administration engaged in widespread illegal surveillance of Americans.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals repeatedly pressed Gregory Garre, the Bush administration's deputy solicitor general, to justify his requests to toss out the suits on grounds they could endanger national security by possibly revealing "state secrets."

Judge Harry Pregerson wondered: "We just have to take the word of members of the executive branch that it's a state secret. That's what you're saying, isn't it?"

A moment later Judge Michael Hawkins suggested that granting the request could mean "abdication" of our duties.

AT&T switching<br />
center in downtown San Francisco
Credit: Declan McCullagh/CNET News.com
A room in this AT&T switching
center in downtown San Francisco
at 611 Folsom St. is alleged to
be a place where the National
Security Agency taps Internet and
telephone communications. AT&T
has neither confirmed nor denied
these allegations, which surfaced
in a lawsuit filed by the
Electronic Frontier Foundation.

At the heart of both cases is the U.S. Justice Department's argument that any lawsuit claiming illegal activity on behalf of AT&T and the National Security Agency--even if the eavesdropping is known to have taken place--cannot proceed because it could let enemies and terrorists know how the government's surveillance apparatus works.

It "could compromise the sources, methods and operational details of our intelligence gathering capabilities," Solicitor General Garre said.

In the first case, called Hepting v. AT&T, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other attorneys had filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T saying it unlawfully opened its networks to the NSA. Last summer, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco ruled that it could proceed.

The second case, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. President Bush, is unique: it involves a classified document that the U.S. Treasury Department accidentally turned over to an attorney for the foundation. The top-secret document showed, according to the group, "Al-Haramain and its attorneys had been subjected to warrantless surveillance in violation of (federal law)." They responded by filing another lawsuit in February 2006 alleging violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The Justice Department says the Al-Haramain case must be thrown out because it, too, could endanger state secrets. The foundation's attorneys must not even be allowed to refer to it, government attorney Thomas Bondy said Wednesday, because their "mental recollections of the documents are also out of the case."

"I'm feeling like Alice in Wonderland," replied Judge M. Margaret McKeown.

While no decision was announced Wednesday, and a final ruling might not be reached for months, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit pressed prosecutors to justify asking that the case be dismissed based on declarations submitted by senior Bush administration officials. (All three judges are Democratic appointees.)

"The bottom line here is that once the executive declares that certain activity is a state secret, that's the end of it?" Pregerson asked. "No cases, no litigation, absolute immunity? The king can do no wrong?"

CONTINUED: No signed affidavit…
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17 comments

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Liberals want to make sure the govt can't prevent another 9-11
Liberals want to protect the rights of terrorists to talk to co-conspirators in foreign countries without the interference of the US government.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Try again...
No, we don't want to protect the rights of terrorists to talk to their co-conspirators. We simply want to protect the right of the average citizen to talk to their next door neighbor, their doctor, or even their old college roommate from Pakistan without undue governmental interference and without having to fear a knock on the door simply because they said something that may have set off a government false alarm. The Bush administration has been playing the "terrorist under every bed" fear card for so long that, in their rush to scare people, they have apparently forgotten about a pesky thing called the US Constitution, the Fourth Amendment of which expressly prohibits the government from conducting warrantless searches such as the NSA eavesdropping program. It also seems to me that the folks making the "national security" argument have forgotten that nothing, not even national security, trumps the Constitution. And for those who've forgotten what the Constitution says, here's a link so you can brush up--- <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html</a>
Posted by chuck2280 (2 comments )
Link Flag
Wrong
Americans want to make sure our President abides by the
Constitution and Law. Without such, he is no better than
Saddam, Castro, or Chavez.

We already know he has thrown people in prison without
charges (calling them an "illegal combatant enemy") and we
know this administration has condoned torture on said
combatants. And we know he regularly ignores the Constitution
and the law.

Protecting the rights granted by the Constitution and Bill of
Rights is not helping the terrorists. Rather turning our country
into a police state is exactly what the terrorists hope for -- to
remove our freedoms. And Mr. Bush seems very happy to
comply.
Posted by m.meister (278 comments )
Link Flag
Come Up With A Way ...
Come up with a way to monitor the terrorists without sweeping up all communications by Americans, a way that is consistent with that document that is more cherished than freedom even from another attack, the U.S. Constitution, and I'm certain that most liberals and conservatives and independents will support that. Meanwhile, most folks don't support power without checks and balances by any person in the U.S.

--mark d.
Posted by markdoiron (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Are We Surprised at the 9th Circus
The 9th Circuit (Circus) is the most overturned Appeals Court in
the Country by a wide margin. Why, they are so out of touch with
reality that it is criminal they are allowed to remain on the bench.
They are a disgrace and have been for many years. It they allow
the lawsuits to continue it will just take up more time and money
but the Supreme Court will overturn them.
Posted by georgiarat (254 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If the Supreme Court does overturn this ruling, they will be guilty of trea
Many have fought and died to protect us from people like this. Without our personal freedoms, this country is nothing.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
It is the first duty of the President...
It is the first duty of the President of the United States to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. All other matters are secondary.

If the President fails to protect our rights, he fails at his job. If he diminishes our rights, he is an enemy of the state.

We all have a moral and patriotic duty to appose the president when he violates his oath.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Military Coup
We're about 5 steps away from a military. If the military wanted to set up a military dictatorship they could easily do it now under guise of protecting us from terrorism.
Posted by KTWinATL (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Liberal jihad against America
The liberals tell us that WE are the terrorists, that the government hates us, and the Jihadis just want to be friends.

Liberalism helps the murderous Jihadis by playing paddy-cake with them. Liberalism helps the murderous Jihadis when the liberals attack the US government with more viciousness than our real enemies.

Liberalism is a mental disorder, and C|Net is playing to that crowd.
Posted by gerhard_schroeder (311 comments )
Reply Link Flag
um...
<i>paddy-cake???</i>
Posted by Rob Hurley (8 comments )
Link Flag
Right Wing Authoritarianism is a mental disorder
If you've ever wondered what's with these nazi types, a psychologist in Canada has studied them and put his results in a free download e-book. His research is the basis of John Dean's recent book "Conservatives Without Conscience." Get the book at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/" target="_newWindow">http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/</a> Very little jargon, and very enlightening. Here are a few snippets:

"They are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority, and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various out-groups. They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason, and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times, and are often hypocrites. But they are also Teflon-coated when it comes to guilt. They are blind to themselves, ethnocentric and prejudiced, and as closed-minded as they are narrowminded. They can be woefully uninformed about things they oppose, but they prefer ignorance and want to make others become as ignorant as they. They are also surprisingly uninformed about the things they say they believe in, and deep, deep, deep down inside many of them have secret doubts about their core belief. But they are very happy, highly giving, and quite zealous." [p 147]

"We all have some inconsistencies in our thinking, but authoritarians can stupify you with the inconsistency of their ideas. Thus they may say they are proud to live in a country that guarantees freedom of speech, but another file holds, ?My country, love it or leave it.? The ideas were copied from trusted sources, often as sayings, but the authoritarian has never ?merged files? to see how well they all fit together." [p 86]

"Once someone becomes a leader of the high RWAs? in-group, he can lie with impunity about the out-groups, himself, whatever, because he knows the followers will seldom check on what he says, nor will they expose themselves to people who set the record straight. Furthermore they will not believe the truth if they somehow get exposed to it, and if the distortions become absolutely undeniable, they will rationalize it away and put it in a box. If the scoundrel?s duplicity and hypocrisy lands him on the front page of every daily in the country, the followers will still forgive him if he just says the right things." [p 106]
Posted by jaymzee (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
If you've ever wondered what's with these nazi types
"They are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority, and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various out-groups.*****If you've ever wondered what's with these nazi types,***** They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason, and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times, and are often hypocrites.!!!!!If you've ever wondered what's with these nazi types!!!!! But they are also Teflon-coated when it comes to guilt. They are blind to themselves, ethnocentric and prejudiced, and as closed-minded as they are narrowminded. They can be woefully uninformed about things they oppose, but they prefer ignorance and want to make others become as ignorant as they.#####If you've ever wondered what's with these nazi types##### They are also surprisingly uninformed about the things they say they believe in, and deep, deep, deep down inside many of them have secret doubts about their core belief. But they are very happy, highly giving, and quite zealous.""""""If you've ever wondered what's with these nazi types""""""Once someone becomes a leader of the high LWAs? in-group, he can lie with impunity about the out-groups, himself, whatever, because he knows the followers will seldom check on what he says, nor will they expose themselves to people who set the record straight. Furthermore they will not believe the truth if they somehow get exposed to it, and if the distortions become absolutely undeniable, they will rationalize it away and put it in a box. If the scoundrel?s duplicity and hypocrisy lands him on the front page of every daily in the country, the followers will still forgive him if he just says the right things"?????If you've ever wondered what's with these nazi types?????

NAZI? FAR-LEFT DRONE? NAZI? ULTRA-LIBERAL KOOK? NAZI? HYPOCRIT?
Posted by majarosh (25 comments )
Link Flag
These "Civil Rights" lawsuits
are being appealed and dismissed:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Appeals+court+dismisses+suit+against+NSA+spy+program/2100-1029_3-6195253.html" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Appeals+court+dismisses+suit+against+NSA+spy+program/2100-1029_3-6195253.html</a>

The only "Civil Rights" these lawsuits seem to be about, is giving the John Does the money and to take down the phone companies and helping to make the public a bit more unsafe by giving "Civil Rights" to the terrorists out there that these NSA wiretaps might have helped capture.
Posted by Orion Blastar (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are you a complete idiot?
I repeat;
Are you a complete idiot?
Posted by yepperdepper (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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