Some cases challenging the program, which monitored international communications of people in the United States without court approval, have also involved atypical maneuvering.
Soon after one suit challenging the program was filed last year in Oregon, Justice Department lawyers threatened to seize an exhibit from the court file.
This month, in the same case, the department sought to inspect and delete files from the computers on which lawyers for the plaintiffs had prepared their legal filings.The tactics, said a lawyer in the Oregon case, Jon B. Eisenberg, prompted him to conduct unusual research.
“Sometime during all of this,” Mr. Eisenberg said, “I went on Amazon and ordered a copy of Kafka’s ‘The Trial,’ because I needed a refresher course in bizarre legal procedures.”
A federal district judge in the case, Garr M. King, invoked another book after a government lawyer refused to disclose whether he had a certain security clearance, saying information about the clearance was itself classified.“Frankly, your response,” Judge King said, “is kind of an Alice in Wonderland response.”
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