Civil Liberties

You Will Awake From This Kafkaesque Dream Remembering Nothing

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A New York Times story that refers to both Franz Kafka and Lewis Carroll describes some of the measures the Justice Department has taken to protect official secrets while defending against lawsuits challenging the legality of the NSA's warrantless surveillance program. In one case, the FBI has demanded all copies of a document, accidentally released by the government, that shows the NSA eavesdropped on the plaintiffs without judicial approval. The Justice Department argues that the plaintiffs may not rely even on their recollection of the document's contents. As one of the plaintiffs' lawyers put it, "They claim they own the portions of our brains that remember anything." U.S. District Judge Garr King noted "there is nothing in the law that requires them to purge their memory."

King also has contended with the Justice Department's insistence on retaining custody of briefs that ordinarily would be filed with the court and a government lawyer's refusal to describe his own security clearance. That information is classified.