This is from an article in Friday’s Washington Post.
Court Rejects Obama Bid to Stop Wiretapping Suit
The Obama administration has lost its argument that a potential threat to national security should stop a lawsuit challenging the government's warrantless wiretapping program.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Friday rejected the Justice Department's request for an emergency stay in a case involving a defunct Islamic charity.
Yet government lawyers signaled they would continue fighting to keep the information secret, setting up a new showdown between the courts and the White House over national security.
The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, claimed national security would be compromised if a lawsuit brought by the Oregon chapter of the charity, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, was allowed to proceed.
Now, civil libertarians hope the case will become the first chance for a court to rule on whether the warrantless wiretapping program was legal or not. It cited the so-called state secrets privilege as a defense against the lawsuit.
"All we wanted was our day in court and it looks like we're finally going to get our day in court," said Al-Haramain's lawyer, Steven Goldberg. "This case is all about challenging an assertion of power by the executive branch which is extraordinary."
But hours after the appeals court made its decision, government lawyers filed new papers insisting they still did not have to turn over any sensitive information.
"The government respectfully requests that the court refrain from further actions to provide plaintiffs with access to classified information," said the filing, suggesting the Obama administration may appeal the matter again to keep the information secret and block the case from going forward.
The decision by the three-judge appeals panel is a setback for the new Obama administration as it adopts some of the same positions on national security and secrecy as the Bush administration.
Yet even as that review continues, the administration has invoked the privilege in several different cases, including the Al-Haramain matter.
The case began when the Bush administration accidentally turned over documents to Al-Haramain attorneys. Lawyers for the defunct charity said the papers showed illegal wiretapping by the National Security Agency.
The documents were returned to the government, which quickly locked them away, claiming they were state secrets that could threaten national security if released.
Lawyers for Al-Haramain argued that they needed the documents to prove the wiretapping.
A number of organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, tried to sue the government over warrantless wiretapping but were denied standing because they could not show they were targeted.
Ann Brick, a lawyer for the ACLU of Northern California, said the court has now crafted a way to review the issue in which "national security isn't put at risk, but the rule of law can still be observed."
Well, well. What have we here? The “liberal” Obama Administration is challenged by the “activist” federal appeals court in the ongoing struggle between Fourth Amendment supporters and the Executive Branch of the US Government.
Like many of you, I’d be fascinated to learn what the conservative view is on this. Who are they for on this one? Will they defend the former “most liberal senator”, or do they support the “activist judges”?
I can’t wait to hear from them. So far all I hear are chirping crickets...
Maybe that’s because they've all been busy wetting their linen while jumping up and down and chanting to Rush Limbaugh as he spewed his bile, hot air, lies, contradictions and projection at the CPAC convention.
But that’s another post.