Wiretapping Overseas Terror Suspects Ruled Illegal

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In a nation five years removed from the destruction of the two tallest buildings in New York City and the murder of nearly 3,000 people, the ACLU has acted on behalf of radical Islamic front group CAIR and succeeded in getting a federal judge to order a halt to the NSA wiretapping program: Judge nixes warrantless surveillance.

DETROIT - A federal judge ruled Thursday that the government’s warrantless surveillance program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit became the first judge to strike down the National Security Agency’s program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy as well as the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution. “Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution,” Taylor wrote in her 43-page opinion.

The Justice Department appealed the ruling and issued a statement calling the program “an essential tool for the intelligence community in the war on terror.” White House press secretary Tony Snow said the Bush administration “couldn’t disagree more with this ruling.”

“United States intelligence officials have confirmed that the program has helped stop terrorist attacks and saved American lives,” he said. “The program is carefully administered and only targets international phone calls coming into or out of the United States where one of the parties on the call is a suspected al-Qaida or affiliated terrorist.” …

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers who say the program has made it difficult for them to do their jobs. They believe many of their overseas contacts are likely targets of the program, monitoring phone calls and e-mails between people in the U.S. and people in other countries when a link to terrorism is suspected.

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