Lawsuit Against NSA Can Move Forward As Judge Smacks Down State Secret Defense

    July 9, 2013
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

Many of the questionable actions taken by our government in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been defended on the grounds of state secrecy or executive privilege. It’s been pretty effective thus far in stopping challenges mounted against secret surveillance programs, but the state secret defense has just been dealt a substantial blow.

You may recall the EFF has been involved in a pretty important class action lawsuit called Jewel v. NSA. The lawsuit was filed in 2008, but has been dismissed and reinstated more times than I would like to count. The latest update came this week when the the U.S. District Judge for Northern California ruled that the lawsuit couldn’t be dismissed under the state secrets privilege, and allowed it to progress.

“The court rightly found that the traditional legal system can determine the legality of the mass, dragnet surveillance of innocent Americans and rejected the government’s invocation of the state secrets privilege to have the case dismissed,” said Cindy Cohn, EFF’s Legal Director. “Over the last month, we came face-to-face with new details of mass, untargeted collection of phone and Internet records, substantially confirmed by the Director of National Intelligence. Today’s decision sets the stage for finally getting a ruling that can stop the dragnet surveillance and restore Americans’ constitutional rights.”

In short, the court found that the lawsuit as a whole couldn’t be thrown out. It did, however, say that some evidence must be kept secret. That’s a given, and I don’t think anybody could complain about that. It’s still a major win to see a court agree that citizens can challenge secret wiretapping laws.

It will be interesting to see where Jewel goes now. The lawsuit already had a lot of evidence that pointed to the NSA engaging in mass surveillance, but now the plaintiffs have plenty more evidence thanks to the Snowden leaks. Of course, it’s not a given that the court will allow such evidence, but it will undoubtedly inform the proceedings going forward.

[h/t: techdirt]

  • Name

    Our entire way of life and our economy has been decimated since 9/11. We have been systematically lied to since 9/11 and we don’t know how deep these lies go.

    The real issue is exactly how safe are you when you are told lies?

    The people, who are lying, are committing felonies. Felonies that you or I would receive a 30 year prison sentence for and believe me, you would serve the full 30 years.

  • tom g

    If the “spying” never happened maybe some who are “outraged” about it might have killed a terrist attack in USA. It Stopped many from being successful.

    How can we protect our self then? What would people say if an attack happened?… “why did we not know and how come the gov isnt doing anything to prevent this?”

    We cant have it both ways, No terrisim AND no surveillance programs. If any one can come up with a way to stop those who want to do us harm without a surveillance programs please tell us about it!

    If u have no better ideas then dont worry about it if your not doing anything wrong. I am not at all worried about it but am worried that I or my family members might be a victim of domestic terrorism.

    • Name

      Terrorism is over-exaggerated in this country. Walk out your door and look at your community. There are so many high value targets that are unprotected. If there truly was this major terrorist threat, we would be having attacks everyday. This simply is not happening. Furthermore, of the terrorists we have caught, we have not heard a thing from them directly. All we here are statements from our government – the government that is lying to us about all the spying.

      It is a slippery slope when you start giving up your rights. What’s next? Cameras in our homes? Wait … that is already being planned by the cable companies …. and section 215 of the Patriot Acts gives the government access to all that “data.”

      If you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about? Apparently, you have not been in American courtrooms lately. They are not like what you see on TV.