Friday, June 17, 2011

NACDL's 1st Annual West Coast White Collar Conference, “Turning The Tables On The Government” – “Navigating the Wilderness of Mirrors: National Security Issues for the White Collar Lawyer,” Friday, June 17, 2011

Guest Blogger: Darin Thompson, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Office of the Federal Public Defender (Cleveland,OH)

Day two of the seminar started with a discussion of the issues that arise when classified information is implicated in a white collar case. Led by John D. Cline, the panel consisted of Deborah Boardman, Matt Apuzzo (of the Associated Press), Joshua L. Dratel, Ross H. Garber and Nancy Hollander.

John Cline began the discussion by reviewing the Classified Information Procedures Act (“CIPA”) and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”).

Mr. Garber suggested that there are a number of cases in which defense attorneys don’t realize that national security information is implicated. This is for many reasons, including unfamiliarity with the statutes involved and an increasingly aggressive use of FISA and national security related charging decisions by the government. The increased numbers of FISA warrants granted and their revealed use in non-“terrorism” cases (money laundering, export violations, FCPA, among others) were cited in support. Mr. Apuzzo noted that the potential for these issues to arise in cases is often underestimated. The scope of the government’s use of its surveillance powers is constantly increasing.

Mr. Dratel noted that an increasing amount of information has been designated classified, leading to this increase in cases with these issues. Once information is classified, however, a Judge cannot declassify it. There are administrative procedures available, but they are impractical for most cases due to timing. Once classified information is involved, CIPA is going to be the sole avenue of relief. He further noted several examples of the “tactical” use of classification and CIPA by the government, including the use of section 4 of CIPA (which allows the government to submit potentially exculpatory classified material to a Judge for review prior to any disclosure).

Ms. Hollander noted tactical de-classification was also a weapon in the government’s arsenal. She also added that FISA includes more than that wiretapping authority: it includes sneak and peek warrants, email, among other powers. Another hurdle caused by classification arises, she noted, in the context of obtaining security clearances for experts, an additional time-consuming burden imposed in these cases. Deborah Boardman noted that the delay in getting clearances can apply to anyone on the defense team that an attorney wants or needs to have access to classified material in order to effectively defend the client.

Many of these practical problems are best understood by using a case study method. To facilitate that, Ms. Boardman used her recent litigation in U.S. v. Thomas Drake to review these problems and how navigating CIPA enabled her excellent result. Mr. Cline and Ms. Hollander also commented upon the practical problems. The role of Classified Information Security Officers as neutral problem solvers was emphasized. John Cline described them as “the best bunch of problem solvers I have ever run across,” a description with which anyone who has ever dealt with them will readily agree.

Mr. Garber, characterizing these problems as “fun”, described the FISA procedure for challenging the warrant. Unlike traditional search warrant applications, FISA applications are not routinely provided to defense counsel. There is a procedure for requesting the application for the warrant. No such request has ever been granted in 30 years.

Ms. Hollander noted a new problem with FISA warrants: they may continue after indictment. She emphasized that if the FISA information is not going to be used by the government, the existence of the wiretap won’t even be disclosed.

In conclusion, Mr. Apuzzo spoke about the problems of reporting on national security cases. He noted reporters actually have several advantages in understanding these cases. For example, because defense counsel receives only a well-defined set of information, they often miss the larger picture, whereas reporters who work on these cases are often more able to quickly understand the significance of new disclosures. He also indicated that communicating effectively with the media is especially important where a case may have (or appear to have) national security implications. Nancy Hollander emphasized Mr. Apuzzo’s points, emphasizing that a good reporter can often find information that defense could never find.

(dt)

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