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The court sides with secrecy

When Congress and the executive branch collude to keep Americans in the dark about whether their privacy is being invaded, the Supreme Court should be willing to lift the veil of secrecy — at least to the extent of forcing the government to explain how often it is monitoring the confidential conversations of Americans. The court abdicated that important watchdog role Tuesday when it ruled 5 to 4 that a group of journalists, lawyers and activists couldn't challenge the constitutionality of a shadowy electronic surveillance program. It's only the latest example of the court's refusal to afford victims (or potential victims) of post-9/11 policies their day in court.

Tuesday's decision came in a lawsuit filed by several people — including lawyers for suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay — who claim that a 2008 law authorizing the surveillance of non-Americans abroad violates the constitutional rights of Americans whose phone conversations and emails might be caught up in the electronic dragnet. That would be a challenging case to make, but the Supreme Court won't even allow the plaintiffs to try. It dismissed their suit on the grounds that they lack "standing" to sue because they can't prove that their conversations with sources and clients abroad actually have been monitored.

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This is a LATimes editorial.  Tom

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