Thursday, January 15, 2009

U.S. Court Affirms Wiretapping Without Warrants

James Risen and Eric Lichtblau write in The New York Times:

In a rare public ruling, a secret federal appeals court has said telecommunications companies must cooperate with the government to intercept international phone calls and e-mail of American citizens suspected of being spies or terrorists.

The ruling came in a case involving an unidentified company’s challenge to 2007 legislation that expanded the president’s legal power to conduct wiretapping without warrants for intelligence purposes.

But the ruling, handed down in August 2008 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review and made public Thursday, did not directly address whether President Bush was within his constitutional powers in ordering domestic wiretapping without warrants, without first getting Congressional approval, after the terrorist attacks of 2001.

Several legal experts cautioned that the ruling had limited application, since it dealt narrowly with the carrying out of a law that had been superseded by new legislation. But the ruling is still the first by an appeals court that says the Fourth Amendment’s requirement for warrants does not apply to the foreign collection of intelligence involving Americans. That finding could have broad implications for United States national security law.

More here.


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