Thursday, August 16, 2007


Everything's a secret. But you can trust us. NYTimes (08.15.07):
"Three federal appeals court judges hearing challenges to the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs appeared skeptical of and sometimes hostile to the Bush administration’s central argument Wednesday: that national security concerns require that the lawsuits be dismissed.

'Is it the government’s position that when our country is engaged in a war that the power of the executive when it comes to wiretapping is unchecked?' Judge Harry Pregerson asked a government lawyer."

U.S. Defends Surveillance to 3 Skeptical Judges

Why yes, your honor. It is.

"The three judges, members of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, were hearing arguments in two lawsuits challenging the highly classified surveillance programs, which the administration says are essential in fighting international terrorism. The appeals were the first to reach the court after dozens of suits against the government and telecommunications companies over N.S.A. surveillance were consolidated last year before the chief judge of the federal trial court here, Vaughn R. Walker."

"The appeals concern two related questions that must be answered before the merits of the challenges can be considered: whether the plaintiffs can clearly establish that they have been injured by the programs, giving them standing to sue; and whether the state secrets privilege requires dismissal of the suits on national security grounds."

The Feds are having a rough time of it. "Judge Pregerson, appointed by President Jimmy Carter, appeared irritated with the government’s arguments, and he became frustrated when [deputy solicitor general Gregory G. Garre] said he could not provide simple answers to questions about the scope of a recently amended 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Mr. Garre said it was a complicated law."

Harry wasn't buying it. "'Can’t be any more complicated than my phone bill,' Judge Pregerson said."

Excellent live-blogging over at ThreatLevel. They're all over this one.



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