The widespread use of illegal electronic surveillance in the name of “national security” was (and is) one of the central forms of government misconduct. Two affirmative suits were begun while John Mitchell ruled the Justice Department. Roth Arthur Kinoy, a founder of the CCR, and David Dellinger, a defendant in the Chicago Conspiracy trial, alleged that they had been illegally wiretapped over the years and asked for extensive damages . The government at first denied that it had tapped Kinoy and Dellinger, but, after being pressured by our discovery efforts, repudiated its denials. Since that time, the government has been slowly forced to turn over to the plaintiffs significant portions of the surveillance record being kept on them.
However, disclosure of the records has been seriously impeded by the government’s claims of executive or national security privilege. In a landmark decision in the Kinoy case, the District Court declared former Attorney General Richard- son’s claims to be facially inadequate , and ordered reconsideration by Levi. Unfortunately, Levi did not repudiate the cover-up posture of privilege which CCR attorneys are presently challenging. While the records received to date can not be made public at this time due to strict protective orders from the courts, they reveal a massive program of surveillance and deliberate government mi conduct, and completely explode the mystique of “national security.” lf the claims of the plaintiffs are ultimately sustained by the courts, it will serve notice on the Justice Department that it cannot flaunt the law and the Constitution with impunity.
Rhonda Copelan, with Jeremiah S. Gutman, Michael Ratner and Lou Raueson (Rutgers law student)