Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Judge Tosses Telecom Spy Suits

David Kravets writes on Threat Level:

A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed lawsuits targeting the nation’s telecommunication companies for their participation in President George W. Bush’s once-secret electronic eavesdropping program.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker upheld summer legislation protecting the companies from the lawsuits. The legislation, which then-Sen. Barack Obama voted for, also granted the government the authority to monitor American’s telecommunications without warrants if the subject was communicating with somebody overseas suspected of terrorism.

Bush acknowledged the so-called Terror Surveillance Program in December 2005, and claimed as chief executive, his war powers gave him the authority to spy without court authorization.

Walker’s decision [.pdf], if it survives, ends more than three years of litigation accusing the nation’s carriers of funneling Americans’ electronic communications to the Bush administration without warrants in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The ruling also means that the public may never know how the Bush White House coaxed the telecoms to participate in the program without court warrants, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation alleged in a lawsuit lodged in federal court here three years ago.

More here.


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