Judge throws out FBI wiretapping case in interest of protecting state secrets

U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney threw out a lawsuit against the FBI for illegally spying on Muslims in Orange County, CA. "The state secrets privilege may unfortunately mean the sacrifice of individual liberties for the sake of national security," he explained. (Via Reason)


  1. Didn’t somebody famous once say something about sacrificing a little bit of liberty in order to obtain a little bit of security?

  2. They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

    1775 – Benjamin Franklin

  3. For a man tasked with upholding the principles of the constitution, you’d certainly expect him to have a better understanding of the men who wrote it what else they wrote with it.

  4. “The state secrets privilege may unfortunately mean the sacrifice of individual liberties for the sake of national security”

    I can think of other nations which have enjoyed such a privilege …

    USSR (which fell apart)
    North Korea

      1. These other countries usually do produce an ongodly amount of propaganda how enlightened they are and how this and that could never happen at home. 

  5. I particularly dislike the word “unfortunately” in the phrase:

    The state secrets privilege may unfortunately mean the sacrifice of individual liberties for the sake of national security …

    Don’t tell me it’s unfortunate, Judge.

    Declarations of Fortune and non-Fortune are outside your purview.

    You judged, Judge.

    Not Fortune: you.

    1. The “funny” thing about that is that the state secrets “privilege” is 110% informal. There is 0 law on the topic.

      1. Actually the Supreme Court first formally recognized the “state secrets privilege” in United States v. Reynolds in 1953. 

        Ironically, the case that set this precedent was itself based on lies, since recently declassified documents showed that the case didn’t even involve any state secrets but the government abused the claim so they wouldn’t have to pay damages to the plaintiffs.

        1. Which was the court basically saying, “Yeah, you can use it with us. We’re cool with it.” There is still no legislation, though.

          1. There’s no legislation that explicitly states women have a right to seek abortions, but it would be misleading to say “there is zero law on the topic” in the era of Roe v. Wade.

          2. True, and now you’ve given me an idea. If state secrets can be hacked down the same way abortion rights have been…

  6. The cynical part of me might conclude that the damage to the state might come from the fact that there is a massive racially motivated witch hunt?  I mean, I could see how that could be a danger, if people ever found out about it.

    1. Wait, you are suggesting that there is a racially motivated witch-hunt in the United States? Which one are you talking about, I can think of three off the top of my head.

  7. This ruling may unfortunately mean the radicalization of individuals to the detriment of national security.

    Did I say “unfortunately”?  Not sure whether I meant it.

  8. I wanna know when they gonna start wiretappn some of these crazy ass honkey MoFos with their automatic weapons and bad mojo!!

  9. For the full story about what happened here, check out the latest episode of This American Life, which is literally about this very story. Its a shame to see their lawsuit got thrown out.

  10. Does anyone else find it strange there are two dozen comments on the BB article and zero on the original LA Times article? Why do BB readers care so much when LA Times readers care so little?

    1. The LA Times commenting system has become increasingly hard to use since the last time they changed implementations (something Facebook-based, I think, but it’s far more broken than BB’s adoption of Disqus.)  They used to have a reasonable collection of commenters, but now it tends to be a few trolls and spammers.

  11. There’s a perfectly reasonable way for the judge to have accommodated state secrets without violating the Constitution: “Defendant, if you don’t want to give evidence that would exonerate you (because of national security or state secrets or general embarrassment),  you can just plead the 5th and let the jury decide how much to award you.”  If the government doesn’t want to have to pay that much, well, that’s the price of not telling the truth.

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