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11/9/2006
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Government Still Trying To Dismiss NSA Spy Program Lawsuits

A federal judge this week agreed to hear appeals from the federal government and AT&T on a ruling that the case could go forward despite claims that it would hurt national security

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is fighting attempts to dismiss its lawsuit over the National Security Agency's spy program.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker agreed this week to hear appeals from the federal government and AT&T. The government filed a request for a stay and is trying to get the case dismissed by using state secret privilege. The privilege, which would prevent a federal judge from determining whether the spy program is legal, exists to protect national security.

After receiving an earlier request for dismissal, Walker ruled in July that the case could go forward. The government is seeking a stay of that ruling.

AT&T has declined to comment on the case, citing national security. E.F.F. argues that security can be maintained while a judge hears the case.

"It remains the province and the duty of the courts to determine whether the spying program broke the law, and the courts are quite capable of proceeding while respecting both liberty and security," Kurt Opsahl, staff attorney for E.F.F., said in a statement.

Walker will hold a case management conference Nov. 17, to consider how the E.F.F. case and dozens of similar lawsuits can proceed. A Detroit judge ruled in a similar case that the spy program was unconstitutional.

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