4.07.2009

Obama moves to block challenge to wiretapping program

NOT OK. NO OK by any stretch of the imagination.

From Raw Story:

President Barack Obama invoked "state secrets" to prevent a court from reviewing the legality of the National Security Agency's warantless wiretapping program, moving late Friday to have a lawsuit that challenged the program dismissed.

The move -- which holds that information surrounding the massive eavesdropping program should be kept from the public because of its sensitivity -- follows an earlier decision in March to block handover of documents relating to the Bush Administration's decision to spy on a charity. The arguments also mirror the Bush Administration's efforts to dismiss an earlier suit against AT&T.

The Friday brief involves a lawsuit filed by the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suing the NSA for the wiretapping program. The agency monitored the telephone calls and emails of thousands of people within the United States without a court's approval in an effort to thwart terrorist attacks.

In attempting to block a San Fransisco court from reviewing documents relating to the NSA program, the Obama Administration is also protecting other individuals named as defendants in the suit: Vice President Dick Cheney, former Cheney chief of staff David Addington and former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The Friday brief responded to the government agencies being sued; the individual defendants have asked for more time to prepare their response.

It also stands firmly behind the telecommunications giant AT&T. AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein revealed that the company allowed the agency to install network monitoring hardware to spy on American citizens.

read more | digg story

ThinkProgress has more:
The Obama administration is “invoking government secrecy in defending the Bush administration’s wiretapping program” against a lawsuit brought by AT&T customers who claim “federal agents illegally intercepted their phone calls and gained access to their records.” Justice Department lawyers yesterday demanded dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against Bush officials, arguing that the information constitutes privileged “state secrets.” Moreover, the DOJ claims the Patriot Act bars lawsuits against “illegal government surveillance unless there is ‘willful disclosure’ of the illegally intercepted communications.”
See the Glenn Greenwald piece below this one as well.

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