Since 1953, the federal government has asked courts 60 times to drop cases because of threats to national security. In 55 of those cases, the courts agreed. So when the government invoked the so-called "state secrets privilege" in the lawsuit against AT&T over the company's cooperation with the NSA's domestic spying efforts, most people figured this would be the 56th case kicked to the curb.But, in a surprise decision, "a federal judge in San Francisco has rejected the Bush administration's bid," Wired News reports.That means the suit will be the first against the NSA over its eavesdropping-on-Americans that'll actually get decided on its merits. Which is an extremely big deal, Patrick Radden Keefe tells Defense Tech. "There's a pretty good consensus among legal scholars that the whole reason the administration wanted to kill this on procedural grounds is that if it ever got before a judge on the merits, the judge would have to rule that the op was illegal."Stay tuned.UPDATE 07/22/06 12:26 PM: Go read Patrick's analysis of the ruling in Slate. Now.
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