No documents ever get lost, the court forgets nothing.
Justice Department officials say the circumstances of the cases, involving a highly classified program, require extraordinary measures. The officials say they have used similar procedures in other cases involving classified materials.
In ordinary civil suits, the parties’ submissions are sent to their adversaries and are available to the public in open court files. But in several cases challenging the eavesdropping, Justice Department lawyers have been submitting legal papers not by filing them in court but by placing them in a room at the department. They have filed papers, in other words, with themselves.
At the meeting this month, judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit asked how the procedures might affect the integrity of the files and the appellate records.
In response, Joan B. Kennedy, a Justice Department official, submitted, in one of the department’s unclassified filings, a detailed seven-page sworn statement last Friday defending the practices.
“The documents reviewed by the court have not been altered and will not be altered,” Ms. Kennedy wrote, and they “will be preserved securely as part of the record of this case.”