ACLU: Warrantless surveillance program threatens democracy
AP | November 15, 2006
CINCINNATI - Warrantless wiretaps that the government says are necessary to fight terrorism pose a threat to American democracy, the American Civil Liberties Union said in court papers filed Tuesday.
The ACLU is asking the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate a lower court decision that said the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program is unconstitutional.
President Bush has said the program is needed to detect terrorists. Opponents argue it oversteps constitutional boundaries on free speech, privacy and executive powers.
"The government's sweeping theory of executive power would allow the president to violate any law passed by Congress," the ACLU said. "This theory presents a profound threat to our democratic system.
"The government complains that the district court overreached, but it is the government's theory that is radical, not the district court's rejection of it."
The government argued in its brief filed last month that the surveillance program is necessary to protect the nation from an ongoing national security threat.
U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit ruled Aug. 17 that the program violates the rights to free speech and privacy and the separation of powers.
A three-judge panel of the Cincinnati-based appeals court ruled Oct. 4 that the administration could keep the program in place while it appeals Taylor's decision.
The surveillance program monitors international phone calls and e-mails to or from the United States involving people suspected by the government of having terrorist links. A secret court has been set up to grant warrants for such surveillance, but the government says it can't always wait for a court to act.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit in January seeking to stop the program on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers claiming it has made it difficult for them to do their jobs because they believe many of their overseas contacts are likely targets.
"The terrorist surveillance program is a critical tool that ensures we have in place an early warning system to detect and prevent a terrorist attack," said Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller.
"In the ongoing conflict with al-Qaida and its allies, the president has the primary duty under the Constitution to protect the American people. As we stated in our appeal, the Constitution gives the president the full authority necessary to carry out that solemn duty, and we believe the program is lawful and protects civil liberties.
"TerrorStorm is something that should be seen by everyone, no matter what their stance/affiliation/political bent. " - Rich Rosell, Digitally Obsessed UK
Get TerrorStorm on DVD today
Infowars.com is Copyright 2006 Alex Jones | Fair Use Notice