Thursday, June 26, 2008

NY judge: NSA can refuse to discuss wiretapping/Court rejects Exxon appeal in human rights case


Join the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore on its annual visit to the National Security Agency on July 4. Meet at AFSC, 4806 York Road , at 8 AM or be at the visitors parking lot at the NSA at 9 AM. After a demonstration, Pledge activists will get together for a brunch. RSVP at 410-366-1637.



NY judge: NSA can refuse to discuss wiretapping

June 25, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The National Security Agency does not need to tell lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainees whether their phones were tapped as part of the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program, a federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday.

The NSA has refused to say whether it listened in on the conversations of the lawyers who are advising detainees being held at the U.S. naval facility in Cuba . The NSA says even confirming the existence of such wiretaps would jeopardize national security.

A federal judge in Manhattan agreed, saying the super-secret agency can't be forced to disclose information about the program.

"Confirming or denying whether plaintiffs' communication with their clients has been intercepted would reveal information about the NSA's capabilities and activities," U.S. District Judge Denise Cote wrote.

President Bush acknowledged in 2005 that, for years following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the NSA intercepted international phone conversations and e-mails involving U.S. citizens. The program did not require warrants and operated without oversight from the nation's spy court, which normally approves wiretaps of suspected terrorists and spies.

Since lawyers don't know whether their phones are tapped, some have avoided international phone calls and e-mails with clients and family members, said Shayana Kadidal, an attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights.

When calls must be made, "It means we begin conversations with, 'We can't be certain the government isn't listening in on this call,"' Kadidal said.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the lawyers demanded to know whether their calls were intercepted. The NSA refused to confirm or deny the existence of such records. Such a response is allowed when acknowledging the mere existence of a document would compromise intelligence operations.

Supreme Court rebuffs Exxon Mobil's efforts to halt human rights lawsuit

Monday June 16, 10:43 am ET

By Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. has failed to convince the Supreme Court to halt a human rights lawsuit against it.

The justices, without comment, on Monday rejected the energy company's appeal of a ruling on a 2001 lawsuit filed by International Rights Advocates on behalf of 11 villagers in Indonesia 's Aceh province.

The suit, which did not seek a specific amount of damages, alleged that members of the Indonesian military committed rampant human rights abuses against the villagers while under Exxon's employ to guard a natural gas facility. The Indonesian government has been accused of brutally repressing separatist efforts in Aceh in the 1990s.

Lawyers for Exxon argued in a federal district court that the case should be dismissed because it involves issues of international relations that should be left to the executive branch.

The district court dismissed parts of the suit that relied on federal law, but allowed state-law claims to proceed. The lower court also dismissed claims against a natural gas firm owned by the Indonesian government.

Exxon sought to immediately appeal the district court's ruling, in order to have the entire suit dismissed, but a federal appeals court turned the company down in January 2007. The company then turned to the high court.

The Bush administration urged the Supreme Court to reject the appeal. Solicitor General Paul Clement wrote in a May brief that the lower court had sufficiently narrowed the case to avoid harm to the nation's foreign policy interests. Clement has since stepped down from his post.

Due to fears for their safety, the Acehnese plaintiffs in the suit against Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil are all named as John or Jane Does.

Justice Samuel Alito, who owns Exxon Mobil stock, did not take part in the decision. The case is Exxon Mobil v. John Doe, 07-81.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press.

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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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