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Score One for the Good Guys

A federal judge dismissed the ACLU's lawsuit against AT&T:

July 25, 2006 (CHICAGO) - A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to bar AT&T from giving the government telephone records without warrants, saying it would require disclosures that would "adversely affect our national security."


Judge Matthew F. Kennelly said disclosing whether AT&T had given such records to the supersecret National Security Agency in its hunt for terrorists would violate the government's right to keep state secrets.

"The court is persuaded that requiring AT&T to confirm or deny whether it has disclosed large quantities of telephone records to the federal government could give adversaries of this country valuable insight into the government's intelligence activities," the 40-page opinion said.

Kennelly ruled in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois on behalf of author Studs Terkel and others who claimed their rights had been violated by disclosure of the phone records to NSA.

US District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly understands what's at stake.

More at Stop the ACLU.


Comments (13)

Umm...how is this "one for ... (Below threshold)

Umm...how is this "one for the good guys".

Uhhh Brian I don't think yo... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Uhhh Brian I don't think you would understand if we drew you a picture.

Oh lord, nice attack upon m... (Below threshold)

Oh lord, nice attack upon me as opposed to answering my question.

If someone can show me how handing over bulk calling data tot he NSA is making us safer....and trampling on our civil liberties in the process; by all means show me.

Brian, since you are alread... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Brian, since you are already under the mistaken impression that obtaining call records is "trampling our civil liberties," I'd say jhow66 called it exactly right.

John, that's a pretty pathe... (Below threshold)

John, that's a pretty pathetic response.

The one thing everyone keeps missing in this issue overall is judicial oversight. AT&T, VZ, et al have decided to hand over billions of phone records to the government so the government can sift through our call logs to see if we happen to call a terrorist.

I would put it to you this is an abuse of civil liberties. Would you care if the government hit up Visa and Mastercard for their financial transactions? Last thing I want is my personal information sitting in a government database (well, it probably already is).

Again, I do see this type of information that should only be shared with judicial insight in specific cases. What the NSA is doing with this info is more of a fishing expedition.

I'm a staunch conservative,... (Below threshold)
Josh:

I'm a staunch conservative, I believe in personal freedom, in all areas, and I'll take "dangerous freedom" over "safe slavery" any day. Okay, so handing out telephone numbers isn't slavery, but where is the line going to be drawn. I like Brian's thoughts, are we going to check everyone's credit card and mail order purchases to make sure no one is buying anything that can be used to make a bomb, like fertilizer? We can get rid of cash and make all spending electronic to make this easier.
In my opinion, cuz' that's all politics are, the government has no right to know anything about me personally. They don't need to know my hobbies, what I look like, or who I call! I think we, conservatives, are giving up some personal freedom under the guise of security. I see this as an extremely Leftist stance, which, unless checked by something, is just a stepping stone to making the government have more control over our personal lives. What happened to "the government governs best that governs least"?

Brian:1.) It has n... (Below threshold)
Inquiring:

Brian:

1.) It has not been determined if AT&T actually did turn over records to the government in bulk. The linked article mentioned that as one of the judges key points of contention.

2.) Without any evidence there are no grounds for greivance of injury on the part of the plaintiffs against AT&T.

3.) If the plaintiffs have no grounds the court has no right to force AT&T to admit whether or not they actually provided that information.

4.) Even if AT&T had given the plaintiffs' information to the government there is no compelling evidence that any actual injury was done to the plaintiffs just because the government was in posession of said records.

This means the case is really nothing more than an attempt to expose state secrets which could only harm the government without actually benefitting the public.

At least that is what I got out of it so far, if I find the actual pdf of the opinion and it is substantially different than the article has led me to believe then I will try to remember to post another comment to correct myself.

Note: I am not a lawyer, so who knows, I could be way off here.

Brian,The fact tha... (Below threshold)
Cybrludite:

Brian,

The fact that these are third-party records, and thus have never required a warrant before, holds no water for you then? There's no expectation of privacy here. The contents of the calls are still private, the fact that Party A made a call to Party B is not. And when Party B is better known as The Party Of God (Hizbullah), that can provide probable cause.

If the government wants to ... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

If the government wants to know who I called yesterday, I couldn't care less. I wish the ACLU would spend a little of their money trying to stop people that I don't know from calling me during supper and trying to sell me something. At least they would be doing something useful for a change.

The one thing everyone k... (Below threshold)

The one thing everyone keeps missing in this issue overall is judicial oversight.

You're raising this complaint on a post about a ruling by a judge.

To me, that kind of looks like judicial oversight is taking place, but you don't like the outcome therefore it doesn't count?

To me, that kind of look... (Below threshold)

To me, that kind of looks like judicial oversight is taking place, but you don't like the outcome therefore it doesn't count?

Oh my lord....yes, how wonderful that a judge has signed of on a domestic fishing expedition as opposed to honoring the standard laws and policies of this country all in the name of "The War On Terror". What a joke.

There should be judicial oversight on these matters....let AT&T hold the records and if needed, get a judge to sign off on a warrant and then whamo, they can have them. This isn't a huge delay.

Brian:Did you read... (Below threshold)
Inquiring:

Brian:

Did you read my little explanation at all? Or are you just being obtuse?

If the plaintiffs had no idea whether or not AT&T had actually turned over records they had no cause to bring the case to a federal court and demand that AT&T submit those records only if issued a warrant.

That would be like me charging you with a crime and demanding restitution but providing no evidence at all you actually committed the crime. Any judge worth their salt would laugh in my face and throw the case out. That is essentially what happened here.

I will say again since you seem to have missed it the first times it was mentioned, there was no evidence that AT&T had actually provided said information in the first place.

All this case was was the plaintiffs saying, "We have no idea if AT&T actually turned over any records, but we are pissed anyways and we want you to not only tell us if they did, but then to make them require a warrant if they do, whether or not they actually turned over records in the first place."

Jeeze, I wonder why that case got thrown out; "We have no idea if we have been harmed, so we want you to force them to tell us, and then put in what we think is the proper response whether or not we have been hurt anyways."

Let me say it one more time by quoting the article and bolding the relavent parts:

Kennelly ruled in favor of the government and said that because AT&T cannot say whether it has done so, Terkel and the other plaintiffs are unable to say that their records have been turned over to the agency.

As a result, they can't say whether their rights have been violated, Kennelly said. He said that even if AT&T acknowledged it did turn over some records, "none of the named plaintiffs would be able to establish standing because they still could not establish personal injury."

(Broken into two blockquotes because the code is screwy and does not carry through paragraphs)

That is another way of saying the Plaintiffs have no case and this is nothing more than a cheap "Gotcha!" attempt.

Oh BS, this was a motion fo... (Below threshold)

Oh BS, this was a motion for discovery and the government squashed the petition using the "state secrets" statute. There has been plenty of reporting which shows most likely this did happen. AT&T had the government squash the evidence, which therefore killed the case.




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