Appeals court ruling lets Interior sites back online

Nine Interior Department agencies are back online following a legal do-si-do between the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

A March 24 appeals court order temporarily stayed a lower court injunction issued nine days previously that forced the nine agencies offline for the second time in two years.

District court Judge Royce C. Lamberth first ordered Interior to disconnect almost all its Internet links in December 2001, after court consultants proved they could easily hack into trust accounts Interior holds on behalf of American Indians owed royalties on resources extracted from their lands.

Lamberth presides over the eight-year-old Cobell vs. Norton, a case in which American Indian trust beneficiaries are seeking compensation for billions of dollars in trust funds managed by the government.

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