Sunday, Nov 2, 2008
The Justice Department has been ordered to hand over all memos pertaining to the legalization of warrantless spying on US citizens.
Federal District Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. signed the order on Friday in response to lawsuits filed by civil liberties groups since US President George W. Bush authorized the conduct of wiretapping by the National Security Agency in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
He says the decision will allow him to determine whether the program poses a threat to national security.
Dean Boyd, a spokesperson for the US Justice Department responded to the ruling, promising to evaluate the decision and to ‘respond appropriately in court’.
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Washington says the memos cannot be disclosed because they are protected by attorney-client privacy laws; Judge Kennedy holds the claim to be ‘too vague’ but says he will not make public any information that would violate privacy laws.
Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, one of the groups seeking the disclosure of the memos, touched on the ruling on Saturday.
“We think just as a common sense matter the legal theories for the president’s wiretap programs cannot be classified and should be available to the public,” AP quoted him as saying.
The wiretapping program launched by the Bush White House has attracted widespread criticism in the United States with citizens saying that the measure is in clear violation of their constitutional rights.
Top US computer security experts also believe that contrary to the contentions of the Bush administration, terrorists can derive huge benefits from the domestic wiretapping program.
Security experts have said that although the top secret data is buried in ‘secure’ rooms within highly classified facilities, the domestic spying program puts national security at risk by housing vital information in data centers which can be penetrated.
Warrantless wiretapping was authorized by Bush after 9/11 on the grounds that Washington needs to respond to national security challenges quicker than the courts. Advocates of the program also argue that the president has the right to order domestic spying without the need of warrants.
The program was challenged in courts soon after news of it was made public.
This article was posted: Sunday, November 2, 2008 at 6:48 am