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San Francisco Judges To Hear Wiretap Arguments

Publication Date: 
August 13, 2007
San Jose Mercury News
Howard Mintz

Derek Shaffer, executive director the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, comments on the Justice Department's strategy to prevent courtroom discussion about the National Security Agency's alleged "domestic spying program."

Reporter Howard Mintz writes:

As the debate over the Bush administration's domestic spying program heats up again in Washington, Justice Department lawyers will return to a Northern California courtroom Wednesday in an attempt to slam the door on legal challenges to the controversial espionage effort.

Their argument: The program is so sensitive that debating it in court would expose state secrets and threaten national security.

The administration has invoked this so-called state-secrets privilege more than any administration in history, but a federal judge in fall 2006 refused to buy the argument, setting the stage for Wednesday's showdown in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before three judges, all appointees of Democratic presidents.


"The government is being very aggressive in its use of the state-secrets doctrine," said Derek Shaffer, executive director of Stanford University's constitutional law center. "You could be left with a situation where the executive branch acts unilaterally because everything it is doing remains secret."