Surveillance lawsuit would harm national security, goverment
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
June 20, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The U.S. Justice Department has
told a federal judge in San Francisco that allowing a surveillance
lawsuit against AT&T Corp. to proceed "would cause grave
harm to the nation's security."
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker is scheduled to hear arguments
on Friday on the government's motion for dismissal of a lawsuit
filed against AT&T by the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier
Foundation on behalf of four Californians.
The government contends the case must be dismissed because there
is no way it could be litigated without revealing state secrets
vital to national security.
In a brief filed with the judge last week, Justice Department
lawyers wrote that "the very subject matter of the case is
a state secret."
The lawsuit alleges that AT&T has violated communications
privacy laws and the plaintiffs' constitutional rights by allegedly
giving the National Security Agency records of millions of Americans'
telephone and Internet communications.
But the government argues in its brief, "Plaintiffs cannot
establish whether or not such cooperation exists because that
factual question is itself a state secret."
The brief argues that "the state secrets privilege is solidly
rooted" in the president's constitutional authority as commander
The lawsuit was filed only against AT&T, but the government
has asked to become a party to the case for purposes of seeking
dismissal of the lawsuit.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has argued that the case against
AT&T can proceed without revealing any security secrets.
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