Court Rejects State Secrets Argument in NSA Surveillance Challenge
A federal court has rejected the Obama Administration’s invocation of state secrets privilege in a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation challenging the NSA’s sweeping surveillance program.
The lawsuit, called Jewel vs. NSA, “challenges an illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency and other Defendants in concert with major telecommunications companies,” according to the initial complaint. Though the case was initially filed in 2008, The Guardian’s recent report on NSA surveillance programs, based on leaks by Edward Snowden, appear to support the EFF’s claims in the lawsuit.
The Obama Administration had asked for the suit to be dismissed because, it argued, state secrets privilege barred information about the case from being released without “jeopardiz[ing] national security,” and that information was central enough to the case that it could not continue without it. But U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White wrote in his opinion that “[g]iven the multiple public disclosures of information regarding the surveillance program, the Court does not find that the very subject matter of the suits constitutes a state secret.” Though White added in his opinion that there is additional evidence that should be “properly excluded” should the case proceed.