Administration Appeals Against Charge Its Warrantless Eavesdropping Is Illegal
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
SAN FRANCISCO — The Bush administration has appealed a court decision that allowed a lawsuit to go forward challenging the president’s warrantless domestic spying program.
In rejecting government claims that the suit could expose state secrets and jeopardize the war on terror, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled July 20 that the eavesdropping was so widely reported that there appears to be no danger of spilling secrets.
The case, which names AT&T Inc. as a defendant, is among three dozen lawsuits alleging telecommunications companies and the government are illegally intercepting communications without warrants. Judge Walker is the only judge to rule against the government’s claim of a “state secrets privilege.”
A federal judge in Chicago dismissed a similar case last week, ruling that the government could invoke the privilege, which the Supreme Court first recognized in the McCarthy era.
The San Francisco lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation privacy group challenges President Bush’s assertion that he can use his wartime powers to eavesdrop on Americans without a warrant. It accuses AT&T of illegally making communications on its networks available to the National Security Agency.
The government argued in court papers filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Judge Walker’s ruling “placed at risk particularly sensitive national security interests.”