For Immediate Release
FEDERAL JUDGE IN OREGON CRITICIZES U.S. GOVERNMENT ATTORNEYS IN
SURVEILLANCE CASE FOR ENGAGING IN "ALICE IN WONDERLAND" TACTICS
November 3, 2006. Portland, Oregon. In a hearing on Wednesday before
federal district judge
Garr King, attorneys representing plaintiffs Al-Haramain Islamic
Foundation, Inc., and two of its
attorneys in a suit challenging President Bush's warrantless
surveillance program refuted the
government's allegations that plaintiffs' attorneys had mishandled
classified information. The
litigation arises from the government's accidental disclosure to
plaintiffs of classified evidence
that plaintiffs were victims of the warrantless surveillance program.
The hearing in Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Inc. et al. v. Bush et
al. was precipitated by
plaintiffs' filing of documents under seal in support of their motion
for partial summary
judgment. The government accused plaintiffs' attorneys of violating
security procedures in
preparing and filing the documents and demanded a hearing. At the
hearing, Judge King
squarely rejected the government's accusations, finding plaintiffs'
attorneys had "not violated
any rule, order or law" or engaged in "improper conduct or bad faith."
The judge also noted that
"[w]e wouldn't be where we are today if the government hadn't
mishandled [the accidentally
disclosed evidence] . . . ."
In addition, Judge King rejected the government's attempt to "set the
ground rules" for the
handling of sensitive information, saying "I don't know that the
plaintiff has to agree with that. I
don't know that I have to agree with it."
During the hearing, Judge King asked whether the government attorneys
held security clearances
enabling them to view the documents filed under seal. Government
Tannenbaum claimed he could not answer the question:
MR. TANNENBAUM: Your honor, I would have to check with appropriate
security officials to
see if whether the information could be disclosed. I think the last
time, in the last two times . . .
THE COURT: Now wait a minute. You're saying you can't disclose whether
MR. TANNENBAUM: I'm saying I don't know if I can or not. There are - I
do know that in
some instances, it is classified as to whether certain people contain
certain security clearances.
THE COURT: I'll tell you Mr. Tannenbaum, my eyebrows go up when I hear
that kind of
Labeling Tannenbaum's equivocations an "Alice in Wonderland response,"
Judge King ruled
that plaintiffs' attorneys had no obligation to provide copies of the
documents until the
government's attorneys disclose whether they have appropriate security