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US May Invoke "State Secrets" To Stop Banking Suit 211

Posted by kdawson
from the not-too-swift dept.
An anonymous reader sends us to the International Herald Tribune for news that the Bush administration is signaling that it plans to turn once again to a favorite legal tool, the 'state secrets' privilege. The administration wants to shut down a lawsuit brought against Swift, a huge Belgium banking cooperative that that the article calls the "nerve center of the global banking industry," after it was revealed that Swift secretly let the CIA comb through millions of private financial records. Quoting: "Two US banking customers sued Swift on invasion-of-privacy grounds. Many legal and financial analysts expected that the lawsuit would be thrown out because US banking privacy laws are considered much more lax than those in much of Europe. But to the surprise of many, a judge refused to throw out the lawsuit in a ruling in June."
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US May Invoke "State Secrets" To Stop Banking Suit

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  • Workaround (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:11PM (#20444225)
    Sue in Belgium.
    • Re:Workaround (Score:5, Informative)

      by arivanov (12034) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:43PM (#20444543) Homepage
      Why just Belgium?

      In order to be able to perform its function swift is registered in nearly all countries around the globe. Quite a few of them have considerably more strict privacy laws combined with considerably more strict banking regulations. In addition to that in some of them the possibility for political intervention in favour of the defendant will be very slim. Frankly, I am surprised it is not being sued in Switherland.
    • by billsf (34378)
      .....in den Haag if need be. This is clearly illegal and the US (the Federal Government) is very unpopular here. It would be nice if it were tried in the US, but this must be heard somewhere. US Feds have no place here (in Europe) -- Except as tourists.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:11PM (#20444229)
    So, uhhhh, when will Americans start to realize that there's just a wee bit of fascism taking hold of their nation? You'd think with something as clear-cut as this, more people would wake up to that fact...
    • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:31PM (#20444425)
      Well, heck, ya'll gotta knowed that iff'n ya'll don't support our troops, ya'll is un-'Merican, raght?

      I know it sounds like that's got nuthin' to do with the CIA combin' threw all them fi-nan-chial transactshuns but it does. I swears it does.

      We gotta hunt them terr'ists everwhere they are fownd! I give up my freedumbs so's I can be safe from terra!
      • by arivanov (12034) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:45PM (#20444571) Homepage
        He is definitely un-'Merican. Wee means small is Glaswegian and the last time I have heard Glasgow is still part of the UK though some fishy characters want it to secede.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So, uhhhh, when will Americans start to realize that there's just a wee bit of fascism taking hold of their nation? You'd think with something as clear-cut as this, more people would wake up to that fact...

      no not really, when you know that over 90% of music is controlled by the RIAA, that 95% of computers come with windows defective by design pre-installed, that there are still 25% of people in the US that think BUSH is a swell guy and that over 60% of the US still thinks humanity was magically created fro

    • by jc42 (318812)
      So, uhhhh, when will Americans start to realize that there's just a wee bit of fascism taking hold of their nation?

      Hey, lots of us realized this and understood back in the 1950s, when President Eisenhower warned us about the growing power of the "military-industrial complex". And we've been pointing it out publicly ever since then, whenever there's an opportunity.

      Americans don't march in a lock-step formation, however. Like the people of so many other countries, it's not really accurate to judge us all by
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Others have faced the fact that we might as well stick around and try to fight it. If we lose, everyone in the world loses, since we now have "one remaining super-power" and there's no longer a safe haven anywhere. So our choice isn't really to find a better place. Our choice is to fight it where we can, or ignore it and hope it'll go away.

        The USA is only a superpower in a very few remaining ways. We have a crapload of nuclear weapons and that's getting close to being about it. Oh yeah - we make the bes
    • by Agripa (139780)

      when will Americans start to realize that there's just a wee bit of fascism taking hold of their nation?


      I demand that you retract your comment! We have BOTH bits of fascism taking hold.
    • by PPH (736903)
      In the words of Seargent Schultz, "I know nothing! Nothing!"
  • Since when... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by michaelmuffin (1149499) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:12PM (#20444239)
    Since when can the State Secret privilege be used to keep secret a program that is probably illegal? That's an enormous conflict of interest. The president doesn't (or at least shouldn't) have the "privilege" to cover up what are probably illegal actions.
    • Re:Since when... (Score:5, Informative)

      by VValdo (10446) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:55PM (#20444679)
      Since when can the State Secret privilege be used to keep secret a program that is probably illegal? That's an enormous conflict of interest. The president doesn't (or at least shouldn't) have the "privilege" to cover up what are probably illegal actions.

      Since at least April 28, 2006 [com.com].

      W
    • by NMerriam (15122)

      Since when can the State Secret privilege be used to keep secret a program that is probably illegal? That's an enormous conflict of interest.


      Yes it is. Too bad you can't prove it's illegal or a conflict of interest because it's a state secret.

      And if you think that's insane, it just proves that it's sane, and therefore has to stay until the war is over.
      • Yes it is. Too bad you can't prove it's illegal or a conflict of interest because it's a state secret.

        And if you think that's insane, it just proves that it's sane, and therefore has to stay until the war is over

        Interesting piece of rhetoric, but the "proves that it's sane" needs a proof. It's a classic catch 22. The problem is defining what "war" you (or the government) means, and how does one decide if "the war" is over.

        The War on Terrorism is even more nebulous than the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty,

        • by jc42 (318812)
          The War on Terrorism is even more nebulous than the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty, or any of the other Wars the US is fighting.

          The War on Poverty did end pretty quickly, when lots of America's poor started asking publicly where they should go to surrender.

          Too bad we can't use this logic for the War on Terror.

          What we need is a War on Bad Metaphors ...

        • by NMerriam (15122)

          Interesting piece of rhetoric, but the "proves that it's sane" needs a proof. It's a classic catch 22.


          Indeed it is, and if you actually go read the book "Catch 22", I think you'll understand exactly what I was saying. It's a great book (one of the funniest pieces of literature of the 20th century, by far), you should read it!
    • by jc42 (318812)
      Since when can the State Secret privilege be used to keep secret a program that is probably illegal?

      When was it ever used for anything else?

      State secrets are always used to hide things from the state's own citizens. The pretense that secrets are things kept from other governments is just silly, because other governments are rarely a direct threat to any rulers (Saddam Hussein being one of the rare exceptions ;-). Threats to rulers mostly come from their own citizens, so that's who must be kept in the dark
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:16PM (#20444273)
    Basically, those are the guys who run international banking, with the message centers and the networking. As far as I know, their physical location is a secret aswell, only a few of these centers exist in the world. SWIFT is more or less owned by the largest banks in the world, roughly based on their marketshare and size. That was the only way they felt assured that noone is going to swindle them with 8 bit xor "encryption" on financial transactions.

    If these guys are cooperating with Bush/the US Govt., then basically the largest banks in the world are cooperating with Bush, giving the US access to international banking.
  • by PlayItBogart (1099739) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:19PM (#20444303)
    Hey, can I rummage through your girlfriend's panty drawer? She won't mind, right? I'm looking for weapons of mass destruction. Seriously.
  • by bomanbot (980297) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:53PM (#20444647)
    ...to comb through private financial recordings from a Belgian bank in the first place? I mean, last time I checked, Belgium does not exactly fall under US jurisdiction, doesn't it? Wouldn't that fall under some international laws or something?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      So called National Security Interests, that's what. If National Security Interests take precedence over the Geneva Conventions and Habeas Corpus, you can't really expect the US government to respect international banking and privacy laws either.
    • by vidarh (309115)
      Nothing gives them the right of doing it without permission. Part of the problem is that SWIFT willingly hands over the data.
  • because lets face it, there is a good chance the Republicans will not be in power..

    Willy
    • by paranoic (126081) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @04:49PM (#20445147)
      The damage the current administration has done will last for quite a while after the next election. Do you really think the loyalties of the judges that have been appointed in the past 6 years are to the American people? That is the scary part of what this administration has done.
      • It is rather surprising, but life terms for judges actually works much like the founders intended. Once these guys are appointed they are not beholden to their appointers and often start thinking outside the box. Someone who has been on the Supreme Court for 10-20 years may have rather different opinions than when he was first selected, and of course legislative oversight works to keep the most dogmatic and radical judges out of these positions.

    • by PinkyGigglebrain (730753) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @06:36PM (#20445991)
      Your making two assumptions.

      First, that whoever is in power next will WANT to investigate this.

      Second, that there will be a "next election", don't forget that those in power do anything to stay in power. This administration has already tried to delay the elections in '04 due to concerns over security [cnn.com] and has since set itself up with some scary martial law powers [prisonplanet.com].

      Anyone want to take bets on the odds of there being a major "terrorist attack" in the US within 4-6 months of the next election? And as long as it doesn't directly impact the "common person", increase in gas price, beer, cable TV or interrupt Monday night football, most of the sheeple will just let it happen.
    • there is a good chance the Republicans will not be in power..

      That may happen sooner rather than later.

      • Rumsfeld - resigned
      • Tenet - resigned
      • Powell - resigned
      • McNulty - resigned
      • Card - resigned
      • Libby - convicted
      • Rove - resigned
      • Gonzales - resigned
      • Cheney
      • Bush

      Bush's old Texas crowd is almost gone.

  • God bless (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    God Bless America, land of the free. ... If you're a politician, you're free to do whatever the hell you want.
  • Don't worry! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sj0 (472011) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:42AM (#20448421) Homepage Journal
    Don't worry at all. The thing is, the Bush administration is simply doing this, ONCE AGAIN, to hide the fact that they've behaved ethically for the past 8 years. All the problems? All the lies used to justify an illegal war of aggression? All the illegal prisons in Cuba, all the secret prisons in Europe? All the secret illegal wire-tapping programs? All the firing attorneys for purely political reasons? All of them had perfectly good explanations, but the Bush Administration is simply too humble to want everyone to know, so they use things like "state secrets" or "executive privilege" to protect themselves from the lack of controversy.
  • Funny. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheLink (130905) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:43AM (#20449097) Journal
    They do all that monitoring and they let the robber wire money to his bank account FIFTEEN times? Not possible to catch him? Yeah right.

    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/30/032123 2 [slashdot.org]

    Call me real cynical but the reason why a lot of the stuff is secret is because the rich and powerful don't want "the wrong people" to know how much money they are moving about and where. Same reason why these "holes" are there in the first place.

    They don't want to "accidentally" catch the big fish while catching the small fry ;).

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle

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