Friday, September 08, 2006

Bush Suffers Another Legal Defeat

A judge in Oregon has joined with two other judges in rejecting the Bush administration's 'state secrets' privileges in cases related to the NSA domestic surveillance program. The story, from the Boston Globe.
"A federal judge Thursday rejected a Bush administration plea to throw out a lawsuit over the government's warrantless surveillance program, saying he is not convinced going ahead with the case would harm national security.
U.S. District Judge Garr King said he believes there may be a way for the lawsuit, filed by a now-defunct Islamic charity, to proceed without releasing information that could harm national security.
'We are disappointed that the court did not dismiss the case, and we are reviewing the opinion and considering our options,' Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said Thursday.
The Portland case turns on what King called the 'Sealed Document,' information that government lawyers accidentally gave Al-Haramain lawyers in 2004 before demanding it back. King said the document is now in a secure room at the FBI's Portland office."
According to Glenn Greenwald, the 'sealed document' referred to is "a classified NSA log listing calls intercepted by the NSA which was accidentally provided by Justice Department lawyers to the charity's lawyers." The log gives the Oregon plaintiffs a clearly demonstrable standing that is questionable in similar cases in Michigan and California. The judge, "said he wants to consider editing the document, reaching agreement between the two sides on stipulations that wouldn't disclose state secrets, or hiring an expert to help him determine whether disclosures would result in harm." As Greenwald points out;
"The court previously instructed the DoJ to find a compromise to allow the document to be used in the lawsuit without jeopardizing national security, and last week, during Oral Argument, chided the DoJ lawyers because -- as is typical for the Bush administration in national security cases -- they simply ignored the court's instruction."
It is of course standard operating procedure for the Bush administration to ignore the law as well as the courts. It is his flagrant abuse of the state secrets doctrine that has earned him the mistrust of the courts reflected in these decisions.

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