August 14, 2007 | By John Gilmore

Appeals Court Battle Over NSA Surveillance on Tomorrow

In the wake of Congress approving a dramatic expansion of U.S. warrantless wiretapping powers, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on the future of two critical lawsuits over illegal surveillance of Americans. The hearing is set for August 15, at 2 p.m. in San Francisco.

The government is fighting to get the cases thrown out of court, contending that the litigation jeopardizes state secrets. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, which accuses the telecom giant of collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in illegal electronic surveillance of millions of AT&T's customers. The court will also hear the arguments on the future of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Bush, a case alleging that the government illegally wiretapped calls between the charity and its lawyers.

"At issue here is whether the courts have any meaningful role to play in protecting Americans' privacy from Executive branch abuses of its surveillance powers," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "If the claim of 'state secrets' is allowed to shut down litigation, then the courts will never be able to exercise their Constitutional duty to hold the White House accountable for illegal and even unconstitutional abuses of power."

Audio from argument should be available the following day at the Ninth Circuit's site.

Stay tuned for more after the argument, and learn more about our case here. You can find more information about attending the hearing here.

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