from the please-explain-how-that-works dept
What's pretty stunning about the federal government's position is that it seems so farcical on its face. It seems to be claiming that (1) as long as the government breaks the law in a classified way, that can never be subject to litigation and (2) if lawsuits concerning illegal activity would be a burden on those who participated in the illegal activity, then such lawsuits should not be allowed. I'm not kidding. A couple of quotes:
“Congress made a considered decision that it would be unfair if [the telcos] were subject to potential suits and ruinous liability,” Kellogg said.But combine those two things and you're basically saying the government has full impunity to do whatever the hell it wants and can never face any legal consequences. On top of that, those who help the government can never face legal consequences either. How does that possibly make sense? It appears that at least two of the judges on the three judge panel had significant concerns about this:
Department of Justice Attorney Thomas Bondy urged the panel of judges to abide by Congress’ wishes. He repeated over and again that litigating the allegations would expose national security secrets.
“Who was or who was not surveilled, that’s classified,” he said. “What any particular carrier did or did not do, that’s all classified.”
Judge Michael Daly Hawkins wondered aloud, “If these plaintiff’s don’t have standing, who would?” Judge M. Margaret McKeown said the “concern” she had was that the suits’ dismissal “cuts off the plaintiffs … from ever pursuing a claim.”But, those random musings aren't necessarily indicative of how the court will rule. I am hopeful they realize the plainly ridiculous state of the government simply being able to hide any illegal activity behind a claim that "it's classified," and will allow at least some of these cases to go forward.