Judge cites state secrets risk in dismissing warrantless wiretapping suit

By Josh Gerstein

April 26, 2019 "Information Clearing House" -  A federal judge has dismissed a long-running lawsuit over President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program, ruling that allowing the case to go forward would create an unacceptable and exceptionally grave danger to the country.

“The Court cannot issue any determinative finding on the issue of whether or not Plaintiffs have standing without taking the risk that such a ruling may result in potentially devastating national security consequences,” U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White wrote in his ruling on Thursday.

The suit, filed in 2008, alleged that the snooping — eventually named the Terrorist Surveillance Program by the Bush administration — violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution as well as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The effort is known to have included a massive database of telephone calls placed and received by Americans, although the full scope of the surveillance remains classified. The Bush, Obama and now Trump administrations have all invoked state-secrets claims to try to shut down the litigation.

The case has a long and circuitous history in the courts. Brought by the digital-rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, the suit was dismissed in 2009 by a previous judge who said the plaintiffs lacked sufficient proof to establish that they were surveilled. The case was later reinstated by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


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