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Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wiretapping

Bump and Update: Here is the Complaint (pdf) in the Oregon NSA surveillance lawsuit. Here is the Motion to Submit Material Under Seal (pdf). [Note: a gracious TL reader has blacked out the e-mail addresses of lawyers]

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A "mystery document" has surfaced in an Oregon lawsuit over Bush's warrantless NSA electronic surveillance program. It is so hot to handle that the Judge wouldn't let it remain at the U.S. courthouse or in the custody of the FBI, a defendant in the case. The case involves:

The lawsuit alleges that the National Security Agency illegally wiretapped electronic communications between a local chapter of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor, both attorneys in Washington, D.C.

It contends the NSA did not follow procedures required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and failed to obtain a court order authorizing electronic surveillance of the charity and its attorneys. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have said they can't spell out the facts that support their suit because those details are classified.

Is this related to the case that U.S. News and World Report wrote about last week? More on that case here.

[hat tip Patriot Daily.]

< DOJ Stonewalls on NSA Surveillance Program | Review Sought of Classified NSA Surveillance Order in Albany Mosque Case >
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  • Re: Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wir (none / 0) (#2)
    by Sailor on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 02:50:41 PM EST
    U.S. District Judge Garr King decided this week that the document couldn't be held securely in a federal courthouse in Portland, and shouldn't be held at the local office of the FBI
    Looks like the judge has learned that the question with bushco isn't whether you're paranoid, but whether you're paranoid enough.
    Anthony Coppolino of the U.S. Justice Department said the document wouldn't be altered if the FBI had it [...]
    Coppolino told King that editing the document wouldn't be possible "without redactions of the document to the point where the content wouldn't be - would not be understandable."
    So, they don't want to alter it, they just want to 'edit' it so nothing is understandable.
    "If the government is committing crimes against its citizens, the public is entitled to know the nature of the crimes," said the newspaper's attorney, Charles Hinkle.
    Damn right!

    Re: Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wir (none / 0) (#3)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 03:19:37 PM EST
    et al - From the post.
    Lawyers for the plaintiffs have said they can't spell out the facts that support their suit because those details are classified.
    Trust us. We wouldn't lie to you like the FBI... Uh huh...sure.

    Re: Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wir (none / 0) (#4)
    by Sailor on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 03:39:09 PM EST
    TL, please step in here and respond to PPJ's post like you do so many others. C'mon, facts are in the balance.

    Re: Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wir (none / 0) (#5)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 04:14:05 PM EST
    sailor - Facts? What facts? There are no facts. What you have is a claim. Maybe it is true, maybe it isn't.

    Re: Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wir (none / 0) (#6)
    by Sailor on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 04:33:01 PM EST
    TL, I would suggest you comment at this point.

    In fact, as I just posted, the attorney who recently charged his office and home had been secretly searched just told Keith Olbermann what he thinks they were after: This very secret document, which the judge spirited away from Portland to keep it out of the hands of the local FBI.

    Re: Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wir (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 05:38:24 PM EST
    The One True b!X - Okay. Where did they get the "secret" document? I mean if it was government "secret," who gave it to them? How do we know that this isn't another Rathergate document? You know, fake. BTW - Sailor. Those are questions. Not claims.

    How do we know that this isn't another Rathergate document? You know, fake. How? Why, by doing all of about two minutes worth of searching on Google News, of course. To wit:
    According to the Washington Post and other sources, Treasury Department officials--who were investigating the foundation for terrorist ties--inadvertently gave a copy of the classified document, marked "top secret" and dated May 24, 2004, to an al-Haramain attorney, as part of a routine disclosure of documents the government was citing to designate the charity as a terrorist organization. In May 2004, the attorney gave the document to Belew and Ghafoor, who also represented the charity. Belew in turn gave a copy of the document to a Post reporter. In November 2004, FBI agents took the document back from Belew and the Post reporter saying it contained highly sensitive national security information, according to the Post. Nelson won't say how he obtained a copy of the document except to say he did so legally.


    PPJ Jim, if you read the U.S. News article linked above, or my earlier opst on it, you will see that the lawyer believes the classified document was given to his client by the FBI and they did a black bag search of his office to retrieve it.
    In an interview, [lawyer] Nelson said he believes that the searches resulted from the fact that FBI agents accidentally gave his client classified documents and were trying to retrieve them. Nelson's client is Soliman al-Buthe, codirector of a now defunct charity named al-Haramain, who was indicted in 2004 for illegally taking charitable donations out of the country. T


    Re: Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wir (none / 0) (#11)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 08:50:23 PM EST
    TL - I understand what the lawyer believes, and what he claims. My point is as stated. It is a claim, not a fact, as Sailor claims. As I said, his claim may, or may not be true. And I may be wrong, but I think it is a fact that Sailor knows that, but just wants to complain. ;-) b!X - Yes, I read all of that and find it interesting that:
    Nelson won't say how he obtained a copy of the document except to say he did so legally.
    I mean, if it was Top Secret, are we to assume that Nelson has a Top Secret clearance? If not, how did he obtain it legally? And did he have a need to know? Especially about other names that may have been on the list. The issue in all of this is starting to become focused on various leaks, etc., from the NSA, from the CIA, etc. I prefer a transparent Government, and have seen too many bureaucrats stamp everything insight "Secret" just to cover their behinds. Having said that, let us assume that the "list" contains numerous organizations that are truly "bad." Is it your position that this information should be "outed?"

    Re: Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wir (none / 0) (#13)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 10:14:01 PM EST
    wg - When I say "bad" I mean groups that are suspected/identified of being members of, or enablers of, terrorist groups. Now given that you would want to have oversight of these groups, how would telling them you are doing so help us? Notice this is different in identiying a group as raising funds for a terrorist group. i.e. The Treasury Department just did that to some group, and released their name, details, etc.

    Re: Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wir (none / 0) (#14)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 08:17:15 AM EST
    I mean, if it was Top Secret, are we to assume that Nelson has a Top Secret clearance? If not, how did he obtain it legally? The government screwed up and gave it to them by accident. They want it back. Badly. Please try and keep up.

    PPJ, he didn't obtain the document in question illegally, unless you count the actions of those who slipped up in the first place :>)

    Re: Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wir (none / 0) (#16)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 04:52:17 PM EST
    et al - I think that if you obtain something that does not belong to you, by mistake, then you must return it. Failure to do so should be illegal. I reminded of several instances in which people were not allowed to keep money deposited in their account by a mistake of the bank. Perhaps some of the legal types around here can explain the difference.

    Re: Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wir (none / 0) (#17)
    by Sailor on Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 08:35:04 PM EST
    So if someone said about a theft:
    et al - I think that if you obtain something that does not belong to you, by mistake, then you must return it. Failure to do so should be illegal.
    But then said about another theft:
    et al - If you put things on a Share drive, they likely will be read.
    So if you are given docs 'by mistake' you must return them, but if you steal them it's OK.

    Re: Mystery Document Surfaces in Suit Over NSA Wir (none / 0) (#18)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 07:22:43 AM EST
    Sailor - Nice change of subject. And why not provide us all the links, rather than try to imply something that is not true? What you refer to, of course, is the Share Drive that was used by the Repubs and the Demos. Initially the story was that the Share Drive was not partitioned and that either side could access it. Because a "Share Drive" by definition is to be "shared" and if you post information on it you should expect it to be read by anyone who can access the drive. Now Share Drives are also partitioned so that various sub groups can have a place to post/exchange information to anyone who has access via a password. It is expected that this is private and will not be accessed by unauthorized people. It was later discovered that a Repub staffer, after the partition problem had been fixed, had obtained the password into the Demo's partitioned section and did some unauthorized accessing. The Demos wasted no time in roundly condemning, etc. Of course the situation here is different. First, there is no doubt when you pick up a paper document whether or not you should have it. Especially if it is stamped "Top Secret," "Classified," etc. If you don't have the clearance, you know immediately you shouldn't have the document. In the event you refer to, what we had was two political parties stealing secrets from each other. Depending on the method, such actions may well be illegal. What you have here is unauthorized access to information used by the government in investigations of groups suspected of being linked to terrorist organizations. Huge difference, eh? So much for apples and oranges, Sailor.