While Friedrich largely dismissed arguments that Page waited too long to file her lawsuit, she said Congress had not authorized lawsuits against government employees or federal agencies in a scenario like the one Page was facing. confronted. And she declined to find that Page had the right to pursue a stand-alone complaint of violation of her constitutional rights.
The judge said one of the flaws in Page’s prosecution was that none of the individual defendants he named were the ones who actually surveilled him. Some simply participated in the paperwork or the approval process. Others do not appear to have been involved at all. The law does not allow prosecution of those who did not actually carry out the surveillance, she said.
A 2019 report by the Justice Department’s inspector general found that Page’s first surveillance application contained “seven material inaccuracies and omissions,” including the inaccuracy to which Clinesmith pleaded guilty. The judge, appointed by Washington-based President Donald Trump, said allegations of misconduct and knowledge of lies in Page’s surveillance process were “disturbing”. However, she said they simply did not meet the standards of a civil suit.
“To the extent that these allegations are true, there is no doubt that many of the individual defendants, as well as the agency as a whole, engaged in wrongdoing,” Friedrich wrote in a 54-page decision released a day after holding a hearing on Page. suit. “Even so, Page has not brought any legal action against any individual defendant or against the United States.”
Clinesmith was spared jail time for altering the email used to support a surveillance request, and was given 12 months probation and 400 hours of community service.
Friedrich left open the possibility that Page could bring a future lawsuit to demand corrections of errors he claimed were present in the 2019 inspector general’s report, but she said the energy analyst should first deal with the matter directly with that office before going to court.
Page and an attorney representing him in the lawsuit did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the ruling.