Monday, July 10, 2006

US judge to rule on legality of warrantless wiretaps - Yahoo! News: "US judge to rule on legality of warrantless wiretaps by Mira Oberman
Mon Jul 10, 7:15 PM ET

CHICAGO (AFP) - A federal judge heard arguments in a suit arguing that US President George W. Bush overstepped his authority when he authorized the use of warrantless wiretaps on Americans.
The arguments came less than two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that the Bush administration overstepped its authority in setting up military tribunals to try war on terror detainees held at a US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The American Civil Liberties Union asked a judge in Detroit, Michigan to rule that the wiretaps are illegal because they circumvent the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the executive branch to obtain a warrant before engaging in electronic surveillance of Americans.
Those warrants are obtained in a secret court which has only denied three requests in nearly 30 years and which allows law enforcement to initiate surveillance before the warrant is obtained, Michael Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan, told AFP.
'Our democracy depends on checks and balances,' he said. 'Obtaining a court order before intercepting people's personal communication serves as a check on unbridled executive power.'
A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined to comment on the case.
In a motion, the department argued that 'The United States submits that the actions authorized by the President are essential to meeting a continuing and grave foreign terrorist threat and are well within lawful bounds.'
It argued that to demonstrate this 'would require evidence that must be excluded from consideration under the military and states secrets privilege' and as a result the judge sh"


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