The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Different judge, different ruling on NSA/AT&T case

Coming as it did in the wake of the Hamdan case, when many were openly relieved that there was finally a response to the White House's 'unitary executive' power grabs, the decision of a federal judge in California to uphold a case against illegal government wiretaps and a company that became a willing party was also welcomed.

But there are a number of these cases, and a federal judge in Chicago has decided to throw one out on the same grounds the other judge cited to uphold: national security. The judge in California noted that the programs were already public-- thanks in part to disclosures from the government and AT&T.

"The court is persuaded that requiring AT&T to confirm or deny whether it has disclosed large quantities of telephone records to the federal government could give adversaries of this country valuable insight into the government's intelligence activities," U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly said. (. . .)

Justice Department attorneys had argued that it would violate the law against divulging state secrets for AT&T to say whether it had provided telephone records to the supersecret spy agency.

The ACLU argued that the practice was no longer secret, because numerous news reports had made it clear that phone records had been given to the agency.

But the judge said the news reports amounted to speculation and in no way constituted official confirmation that phone records had been turned over.

Sounds like we'll have to wait for the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on this one.