Friday, 16 November 2007

News: US Courts Pour Cold Water On Wire-Tap Case

Source: AP

A federal appeals court dealt a near-fatal blow Friday to an Islamic charity's lawsuit alleging it was illegally wiretapped by federal investigators, saying that a key piece of evidence the charity planned to use is a protected state secret.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that a top secret call log accidentally turned over to the now-defunct U.S. arm of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation's lawyers by the U.S. Treasury Department can't be used as evidence.

Al-Haramain, which was labeled by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, alleged it had been illegally wiretapped by the Bush administration without a warrant.

The charity's lawyers voluntarily turned over the document to FBI agents after it was given to them.The appeals court said that ruling was "a commendable effort to thread the needle," but still ran counter to the state secrets law, which precludes the disclosure of sensitive information in court that could jeopardize national security.

"Such an approach countenances a back door around the privilege and would eviscerate the state secret itself," Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel.

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