Jul 102009
 July 10, 2009  Posted by  Court, Surveillance, U.S.

“Warrantless surveillance of American citizens, in defiance of FISA, is unlawful and unconstitutional.”
President Barack Obama, December 20, 2007

“We owe the American people a reckoning.”
Attorney General Eric Holder, June 13, 2008

And thus began the latest round in Al-Haramain v. Obama, a case seeking a ruling that the Terrorist Surveillance Program implemented during Bush’s administration was illegal. Al-Haramain, a now-defunct Saudi charity, claims that they and their lawyers were wiretapped in phone calls to Saudi Arabia without a warrant after the charity had been designated an organization that funded terrorist operations.

What makes this case somewhat unique is that the plaintiffs reportedly had hard evidence in their hands, accidentally provided by the government. Once the government realized its error, it reclaimed the documents and got the court to agree that no reference could be made to the documents and that they could not be used in any shape or manner. The plaintiffs, then, had to find another way to demonstrate that they were “aggrieved persons” under FISA and would, hence, having standing to bring suit. Relying on publicly available materials, including interviews and statements given by government officials, the plaintiffs provided what they hope will establish that they have standing to bring suit. The government has tried repeatedly to get the case dismissed on grounds that to defend against the suit, they would have to reveal state secrets.

The court will hear oral arguments on September 1.

Documents can be found on EFF’s site.

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