Catch 22 Alive and Well in Surveillance Lawsuit

By Vic Walter

Jun 20, 2006 9:05am

The United States government says a lawsuit brought against AT&T over government surveillance must be dismissed because the state secrets privilege prevents the company from either admitting or denying the allegations.

Even if the program was found to be illegal, the government argues the court could not take action "because to do so would confirm" the allegations and put the country at risk.

"Finally the Administration has come out and flatly said what it has hinted at throughout its arguments: that the program is above the law," says a response from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the lawsuit alleging illegal electronic surveillance of private citizens.

The government’s brief was filed late Friday in federal court in San Francisco.

The government brief says the court should dismiss the lawsuit because "adjudication of Plaintiff’s claims risks or requires the disclosure of protected state secrets and would thereby risk or cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security of the Untied States."

The Electronic Frontiers Foundation says it will continue its opposition "to this radical assertion of power."

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