Saturday, November 17, 2007

As secret does

Yesterday's curious federal appeals court decision excluding crucial evidence from an Islamic charity's challenge to the U.S. government's warrantless wiretapping program hardly settles the matter, despite what many analysts claim. In fact, the ruling allows the charity, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation of Oregon, to continue its challenge that the program violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveilance Act, which requires warrants. The ruling also permits a separate lawsuit against telecommunications companies who cooperated with the government program. But the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, generally considered the country's most liberal appellate court, found that a document inadvertently released to the charity proving it had been wiretapped must be excluded from the case because it was a "state secret," even though the program itself could no longer be considered a 'secret,' as the government had claimed. Obviously, this case is heading to the U.S. Supreme Court where, unfortunately, anything can happen.

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