Justice Department: We Will Seize Court Records

OPEN GOVERNMENT — The Washington Independent reports that a heated confrontation is brewing between the Obama administration and a federal judge in San Francisco, with government lawyers threatening to come and seize from court files information constituting "state secrets" rather than have them be used against it in a case alleging illegal warrantless wiretapping.

Late on Friday, the Justice Department’s lawyers filed a brief with a federal district court in California challenging the court’s power to carry out its own order. The government lawyers insisted that the court has no right to make available to the opposing lawyers in the case a classified document regarding the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, even though the document is critical to the lawsuit, the lawyers can obtain the necessary top-secret security clearances, and the document would not be released publicly.
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. . . the case of Al-Haramain v. Obama presents one of the first direct challenges by a victim of the Bush National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program against government officials. But the government has argued vigorously to have the case dismissed, invoking the so-called “state secrets privilege” to refuse to turn over information about the program, and has refused to provide the organization’s lawyers use of a document that reportedly reveals that Al Haramain was one of the program’s victims.
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