San Francisco - In the wake of Congress approving a dramatic expansion of U.S. warrantless wiretapping powers, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on the future of two critical lawsuits over illegal surveillance of Americans. The hearing is set for August 15, at 2 p.m. in San Francisco.
The government is fighting to get the cases thrown out of court, contending that the litigation jeopardizes state secrets. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, which accuses the telecom giant of collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in illegal electronic surveillance of millions of AT&T's customers. The court will also hear the arguments on the future of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Bush, a case alleging that the government illegally wiretapped calls between the charity and its lawyers.
"At issue here is whether the courts have any meaningful role to play in protecting Americans' privacy from Executive branch abuses of its surveillance powers," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "If the claim of 'state secrets' is allowed to shut down litigation, then the courts will never be able to exercise their Constitutional duty to hold the White House accountable for illegal and even unconstitutional abuses of power."
The court has scheduled one hour of arguments for Hepting v. AT&T, and 40 minutes for Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Bush. Because of the large number of attendees expected at Wednesday's hearing, the court will provide an overflow room with audio and video of the proceedings for spectators who cannot get a seat in the courtroom itself.
For more information about attending the hearing, contact press [at] eff.org
Hepting v. AT&T
Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Bush
Wednesday, August 15
9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
Courtroom 1, 3rd Floor
95 Seventh Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
For more on EFF's case against AT&T: http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att
Electronic Frontier Foundation press [at] eff.org
Electronic Frontier Foundation cindy [at] eff.org
Attorney for the Al-Haramain plaintiffs ljaskol [at] earthlink.net