A federal judge in Washington has ordered the government to grant security clearances to lawyers on both sides of a lawsuit claiming illegal spying against a DEA agent, in a ruling that challenges the government’s long-held claim that the executive branch alone has the authority to determine who can access classified material.
The attorneys in the case, which was noted by Secrecy News, need the security clearances to obtain classified knowledge held by their clients so they can adequately argue the lawsuit, the judge said, in an August 26 ruling supported by attorneys on both sides of the lawsuit, but bitterly opposed by the government.
On Thursday, a federal appeals court ordered an emergency stay of the order pending an appeal by the Justice Department.
Washington, DC, District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth made the ruling (.pdf) in the case known as Horn v. Huddle, demanding the government grant the lawyers security clearances “commensurate with the level” of the classified information their clients possess. The case involves listening devices purportedly used by the Central Intelligence Agency, including a coffee table said to be an eavesdropping transmitter.More...