Archive for February 2015
State Secrets Privilege trumps 4th Amendment? Did we vote for that?
This most recent ruling was in response to the motion for partial summary judgment EFF filed in July 2014 arguing that the NSA’s backbone surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment. The government responded with its own motion for partial summary judgment, asserting several defenses, including the “state secrets” privilege, which permits judges to disregard evidence that would endanger national security if publicly released. In support of its motion, the government filed secret declarations by NSA officials that were available to Judge White, but not to us [EFF] or the public, and the judge relied on this evidence in his order.
Judge White did not rule on the legality or constitutionality of the NSA mass Internet surveillance we challenged. Rather, the court explained that the publicly available information did not paint a complete picture of how the NSA collects Internet traffic, so the court could not rule on the program without looking at information that could constitute “state secrets.”
“Because a fair and full adjudication of the Government Defendants’ defenses would require harmful disclosures of national security information that is protected by the state secrets privilege, the Court must exclude such evidence from the case,” Judge White writes in the decision. “Addressing any defenses involves a significant risk of potentially harmful effects any disclosures could have on national security.”
Also Must Read: Origin and History of the State Secrets Privilege