Posted Jan. 18, 2006 – Two civil liberties groups say President Bush has no right to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens without court warrants, so they filed lawsuits in federal court Tuesday seeking to immediately stop his domestic spying program.
The suits, filed in Detroit and New York by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, argue that the program is illegal and unconstitutional, and that Bush abused his authority when he gave the National Security Agency permission to secretly listen in on phone calls of Americans suspected of being involved with terrorists, without having a warrant.
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The ACLU lawsuit, filed on behalf of journalists, scholars, attorneys and national nonprofit organizations that communicate with people in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere, names the NSA and its director, and said the program “seriously compromised the free speech and privacy rights of the plaintiffs and others,” The Associated Press reported.
The CCR is suing Bush, the head of the National Security Agency and the heads of other major security agencies. The group represents hundreds of men held as enemy troops at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, AP reported.
Bill Goodman, director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the organization now has to audit old communications to determine whether “anything was disclosed that might undermine our representation of our clients,” Reuters reported.
Both suits seek answers about the 1978 law requiring court approval of electronic monitoring that was established after public outrage over surveillance of individuals like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., AP reported.
However, Bush maintains what he did was legal under a law passed after the 9/11 attacks that authorized eavesdropping on international phone calls and e-mails of people suspected of terrorist ties.
Last week, we asked our users "Should the Bush administration be required to get a warrant before monitoring communications between Americans and suspected terrorists?" Here’s what we found.
About 75% of you said, "Yes; the government should be required to get a warrant."
About 19% of you said, "No; the government should be allowed to monitor without a warrant."
About 6% of you said, "I'm not sure."
Should the domestic spying program immediately end? "Click on "Discuss Now" to post your comment.