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Terrorism

Judge Tosses Suit Claiming Government Wiretapped Lawyers’ Conversations

Posted Jul 3, 2008 8:49 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal judge in San Francisco has dismissed a lawsuit that claimed the government illegally wiretapped conversations between lawyers and a client, a now-defunct charity suspected of terrorism.

The lawsuit relied on a classified call log the government turned over by mistake to the client, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation. U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker barred the foundation from using the document and dismissed the suit, according to the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He gave the foundation 30 days to file a new lawsuit using publicly available information.

Although Walker tossed the case, charity lawyers were buoyed by his ruling apparently rejecting the Bush administration's authority to order wiretaps without the approval of a special foreign intelligence court.

Walker said the law establishing the court provided “the exclusive means" for foreign intelligence wiretaps.

Foundation lawyer Jon Eisenberg praised Walker's ruling for its holding on the intelligence law and expressed optimism. “We still have our foot in the door,” Eisenberg told the New York Times. “The clock is a minute to midnight, but we’ve been there before and survived.”

Lawyers for Guantanamo detainees also believe they are being wiretapped, and they have filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking proof to back up their suspicions.

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