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Federal Judges Reluctant to Force Release of NSA Surveillance Data

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In at least 17 terrorism-related cases, federal judges have sided with government prosecutors and refused to order release of information on whether the National Security Agency secretly wiretapped defendant conversations. In each of the cases, the Justice Department’ has declined to tell whether NSA’s secret surveillance program was involved in a case, filing secret documents with the court that are not supplied to defense lawyers. The collective decisions suggest that judges are averse to permitting defense lawyers to use the prosecutions to force disclosures about the program. (12/27/06)