I had assumed all of these court cases would be squashed by exactly this government secrets gambit. Thank god for an independent judiciary.
U.S. director of intelligence John Negroponte told the court in a filing that disclosing the information in the case "could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States."
"The very subject matter of this action is hardly a secret," the U.S. District Court for Northern California judge wrote. "Public disclosures by the government and AT&T indicate that AT&T is assisting the government to implement some kind of surveillance program."
"The compromise between liberty and security remains a difficult one," he continued. "But dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security."
Court denies State's Secrets
Astonishingly, a federal judge has denied the government's request to dismiss the Electronic Frontier Foundation's case against AT&T based on the grounds that disclosures during the course of the case would harm national security. This is remarkable, since the judiciary historically sides with the government in matters that might harm national security. So why did the judge dismiss the requested dismissal? It certainly wasn't because the Administration made a weak pitch: