SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed dozens of lawsuits that claimed telecommunications companies violated privacy laws by cooperating with the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretap program. In two rulings, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker wrote that despite the plaintiffs’ serious constitutional questions, the intent of Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act required him to dismiss. Judge Walker made some exceptions for four cases.
Here are references for the exceptions: Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Inc. v Bush, No. C 07-0109; Center for Constitutional Rights v Bush, No. C 07-1115; Guzzi v Bush, No. C 06-6225; Shubert v Bush, No. C 07-0693.
Judge Walker said Congress clearly intended to shield the telecoms from liability when it passed legislation stating so in July 2008. The ruling spares the phone companies the prospect of paying billions of dollars. Plaintiffs said they would appeal to the 9th Circuit.
Walker wrote that the case was troubling and unique. “It creates a retroactive immunity for past, completed acts committed by private parties acting in concert with government entities that allegedly violated constitutional rights.” Nonetheless, he said, the intent of Congress was clear.