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Late on Friday, the Justice Department’s lawyers filed a brief with a federal district court in California challenging the court’s power to carry out its own order. The government lawyers insisted that the court has no right to make available to the opposing lawyers in the case a classified document regarding the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, even though the document is critical to the lawsuit, the lawyers can obtain the necessary top-secret security clearances, and the document would not be released publicly.
Not only does that defy the court once again, but there’s a catch: the court already has the document, which was filed months ago under seal. What’s more, the lawyers for Al-Haramain have already seen it; it was inadvertently turned over to them back in 2004, when the government was busy trying to prove that Al-Haramain was funnelling money to terrorists. Weeks later, the government, realizing its mistake, sent FBI agents to the lawyers’ offices to retrieve the document. But the cat was out of the bag: the lawyers had seen evidence that the foundation, and two of its lawyers, had been wiretapped. And that same document has already been filed, along with several other classified, sealed and secret filings, with the U.S. district court.