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Government Intervenes in Surveillance Lawsuit
posted by sysrpl on Saturday April 29, 2006 9:31 AM

Remember the recently reported news that AT&T has been forwarding internet traffic directly into the hands of the NSA? Well it looks like the story has taken an unprecidented scary turn Friday, as the United States government filed a Statement of Interest in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) class-action lawsuit against AT&T. In the 8-page statement, the U.S. Justice Department said it will intervene in the lawsuit. The government has asserted military and state secrets privileges and is intervening to seek dismissal of the case.

A class action lawsuit filed by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) claims that AT&T has been forwarding all it's voice and data communications directly into the hands of NSA snoops. Apparently, a whistle blower at AT&T has turned over documents to the EFF which show AT&T volunteered to help the NSA with unrestricted direct access to millions of ordinary Americans' communications in exchange for favors from the government (perhaps favors like helping overturn net neutrality). This is a direct violation of the Constitution, and AT&T has been fighting to keep the documents secret.

Jack Cafferty's opinion on the NSA database.

This seems pretty bad in itself, but the situation got a lot worse on Friday, April 29 2006. It looks like AT&T might get things it's way. Many online technical oriented media outlets are now reporting that the federal government is invoking a rarely used 'State Secrets Privilege' to squash the class action lawsuit. The State Secrets Privilege lets the executive branch step into a civil lawsuit and have it dismissed if the case might reveal information that puts national security at risk.

This fiasco goes much further in expanding said 'executive powers' and violating our rights than the domestic spying program which was uncovered last year. The action by the feds pretty much confirms the EFF's claims. The problem isn't that the NSA is spying, it's that the administration is not following the laws set forthe to do so such spying, by getting warrants (even after the fact). That is the problem here. They are breaking the law because they feel like it, and they believe they do not have to be accountable for doing so.