Friday, February 15, 2008

"You are getting sleepy ..."

"... You are in a deep trance. When I snap my fingers, you will awake, and you will not remember..."

One of the roadblocks thrown up by the maladministration to the lawsuits alleging illegal secret wiretapping has been a "state secrets privilege", whereby the plaintiffs are not allowed discovery from the telecommunications companies to find out whether they have actually personally been wiretapped, and therefore, that since they can't prove this [in] a court of law (because of the "state secrets privilege"), their lawsuits must be dismissed.

But one lawsuit managed to sneak through this legal Catch-22, thanks to gummint incompetence (other report here). Apparently, defence lawyers gave a document they shouldn't have given to the plaintiff's attorneys:
The document was a log of phone conversations Belew and co-counsel Asim Ghafoor had held with a Saudi-based director for the charity named Soliman al-Buthi.
So there it is. Proof that the gummint had been snooping.

So, what to do, what to do? The "standing" dodge was in danger of falling, and they'd already turned over the document proving such, so a "state secrets privilege" was -- in theory -- no longer availing.

But that hasn't stopped the gummint from trying to keep a lid on what everyone knows anyway. "Never give up, never surrender". When it got to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the gummint astoundingly prevailed:
A federal appeals court said today that secrecy laws forced it to exclude critical evidence about the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program from being used by an Islamic charity in a lawsuit even though the mere existence of the program could no longer be considered a “state secret.”
But the most astounding thing was this:
The implication was that only a plaintiff with evidence of surveillance - such as Al-Haramain - had the right to challenge the program. But on Nov. 16, the appeals court in San Francisco barred the charity from making any use of the secret document, including its lawyers’ recollection of it.
"You will not be permitted to even remember this document in court. Oh, and BTW, tough luck...."

I think I remember what I found so perplexing about law school. It's a different world....


At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arne - did you really mean to write "prove this IS a court of law" rather than "prove this IN a court of law"?

A powerful Freudian slip...

-- Uncle Glenny

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Arne Langsetmo said...

Yes, you're right. Thanks.


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