The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed lawsuits on Tuesday against the Bush Administration for conducting wiretaps of American citizens without judicial oversight.
The ACLU filed its lawsuit against the federal agency tasked with conducting surveillance, the National Security Agency (NSA), on behalf of three authors, two Islamic scholars, and three nonprofit groups that believe they have been or could be targeted by the wiretapping orders. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed its lawsuit on behalf of its staff, who fit the criteria of those that could be the focus of investigations, the group said in a statement.
The lawsuits add to the controversy surrounding the Bush Administration's contention that the United States is at war and that status gives the president the right to void legal and constitutional protections for U.S. citizens. President Bush secretly authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States without obtaining warrants from secretive courts designed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to oversee such activities. The NSA has also reportedly widely monitored Internet communications in some situations without significant oversight.
In addition to questions regarding the privacy of U.S. citizens, details of the program also raise issues about whether the U.S government has the right to tap data that merely passes through the country. Media reports from earlier this year suggested that the NSA was being positioned to be the nation's traffic cop.
Posted by: Robert Lemos