Case Dismissed

White House to Block Wiretap Suit

For the first time under its new policy, the Obama administration is attempting to prevent legal proceedings over wiretapping from the Bush era on Friday. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the decision in a California lawsuit challenging the warrant-less wiretapping program, initiated after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. According to Holder, the case could not move forward without “jeopardizing ongoing intelligence activities that we rely upon to protect the safety of the American people.” The new state secrets privilege allows the government to dismiss a lawsuit if hearing the case would endanger national security, as Holder suggests. Though the Bush administration put the privilege to use numerous times, the Obama administration recently announced a new internal review process, limiting these decisions to more senior Justice Department officials. In this case, presiding U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has been given a classified description of why the Justice Department believes the case must be dismissed, and Walker will assess the claim. One lawyer pursuing a similar case against the government was disappointed with Holder’s decision, saying, “The Obama administration has essentially adopted the position of the Bush administration.” Last month, the administration said it would try to set a higher bar for invoking the privilege.