Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Chicagoans' lawsuit against AT&T for NSA domestic spying dismissed to protect widely known "state secret" and Specter's ornamental NSA hearings

I suppose in the American city with 2,250 spy cameras, or 1 Municiple Spy Camera per 1208 residents, this shouldn't be disappointing but it is.

ACLU of Illinois Responds to Ruling in Terkel v. AT&T (7/25/2006)
CHICAGO, IL -- U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly today granted a motion by the United States Department of Justice to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois on behalf of Chicago author Studs Terkel and other prominent Chicagoans challenging the actions of telephone giant AT&T in divulging the telephone records of its customers to the federal government without lawful authorization. The court agreed with the government's argument that the need to protect "state secrets" necessitated dismissing the lawsuit.

Kennelly's ruling is shocking after the articulate logic of U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker who quite rightly pointed out in the EFF class action suit against AT&T that the public already knows about the spying and no state secrets were at risk -- but the same can't be said for Americans' liberties.

Judge's Refusal to Dismiss EFF's Spying Case Sets Stage for Congressional Showdown
Ruling Comes as Senators Consider Dramatic Changes to Surveillance Law
San Francisco - A federal judge has refused to dismiss the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) case against AT&T for collaborating with the NSA in illegal spying on millions of ordinary Americans, setting the stage for a congressional showdown over proposed dramatic changes in federal surveillance law.

...The government intervened in the case and asked that it be dismissed because the suit could expose "state secrets." But Thursday, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker refused: "The compromise between liberty and security remains a difficult one. But dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security." (my emphasis)

When 2 District Courts can arrive at divergent positions practically simultaneously and with similar facts it drives home the uncertainty of where Bush's whole-out assault on civil liberties will end. Besides the obvious of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile Senator Arlen Specter has introduced a bill to retroactively Okie-dokie Bush's sweeping away of our liberties. Senator Durbin is against this bill. Thank goodness. But the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings tomorrow today [ed. slow typing]. Who knows if Crocodile Tears Specter will kill our liberties in committee before the EFF and ACLU cases can be appealed. The Government can appeal in the EFFs case immediately, and the Illinois ACLU hasn't said if they'd appeal.

Senator Specter, I hope those witnesses are under oath for a change.

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