Sensitive documents surface in AT&T-NSA spy lawsuit

It looks like the Electronic Frontier Foundation may have unearthed some highly sensitive documents about the National Security Agency's supersecret spy program.

The San Francisco-based advocacy group said on Friday that the Bush administration had objected to it including some internal AT&T documents with a scheduled court filing because the information may be classified. (In January, EFF sued AT&T over its alleged participation in the possibly-illegal scheme.)

Here's what Kurt Opsahl, an EFF staff attorney, told me late Friday:

"We're having some discussions with the Department of Justice about what can be placed in the public record, what can be redacted. While those discussions are ongoing I can't really discuss it fully."

"Their position is that they need time to review the documents to make a determination about them (regarding classification)."

"It's fairly obvious that we believe (the internal AT&T documents) support the allegations in our complaint."

In a legal brief also filed Friday, fellow EFF attorney Lee Tien described his conversations with Justice Department attorney Anthony Coppolino. Tien wrote: "Mr. Coppolino also stated that in such case it believed that lodging the AT&T documents according to this court's sealing procedures would be inadequate." (The Justice Department is not a party to the case but seems unusually interested anyway.)

EFF gave copies of the AT&T documents to the Feds on Thursday and is also asking for a preliminary injunction to halt the allegedly illegal surveillance activity.

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by Brian Tong