Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hepting, et al. v AT & T, et al.

Filing the void of news from Los Altos . . .

The Electronic Frontier Foundation summarizes the case aptly (albeit as a mouthful):

Essentially the Government is saying that, even if the Judiciary found the wholesale surveillance program was illegal after reviewing secret evidence in chambers, the Court nevertheless would be powerless to proceed, because the Executive has asserted that the Program, which has been widely reported in every major news outlet, is nevertheless still such a secret that the Judiciary (a co-equal branch under the Constitution) cannot acknowledge its existence by ruling against it. In short, the Government asserts that AT&T and the Executive can break the laws crafted by Congress, and there is nothing the Judiciary can do about it.

Judge Vaugh R. Walker will at a minimum make the parties explain without delay (6/23/06). A couple of the questions, His Honor wants answered:

How can the court minimize the conflict between plaintiffs' right to litigate this case and the government's duty to protect state secrets?

How can confirming or denying the existence of the alleged surveillance program at issue here, or AT & T's alleged participation in that program, constitute disclosure of state secret when the program has been so widely reported in the public sphere?
President Nixon also believed that his administration was above the law. Nixon's lawyers were not able to delay those seeking the truth (or his exile) long enough for him to serve out his term. If President Bush can figure out how to involve the FTC, I am betting that he will be years into retirement before he is told that his administration is wrong . . .

Justice delayed is justice denied.

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