The Obama administration suffered a bit of a legal setback this afternoon: a federal judge in California rejected the administration's assertion of the state secrets privilege in the civil suit brought by an Islamic charity that was allegedly subjected to illegal NSA surveillance. The order, in Al-Haramain v. Bush, requires the government to come up with a way to safeguard the classified information it plans to present in the NSA's defense by May 8. Judge Vaughn Walker noted that the government has elsewhere made provisions for the discussion of Top Secret/SCI information. It so happens that the plaintiffs attorneys have been cleared to that level. Walker crafted his order narrowly to prevent the government from appealing it immediately to the Ninth Circuit. On May 8, it will be interesting to see whether the administration presents a plan for safeguarding classified info -- or whether it re-asserts the state secrets privilege.
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