The New York Times
November 25, 2008

The authorities may lawfully conduct searches and electronic surveillance against United States citizens in foreign countries without a warrant, a federal appeals court panel said on Monday, bolstering the government’s power to investigate terrorism by ruling that a key constitutional protection afforded to Americans does not apply overseas.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Manhattan, came in the case of three Al Qaeda terrorists convicted a few months before 9/11 in a conspiracy that involved the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa.

The court did not address the question of whether the government could conduct warrantless wiretaps of international calls involving people in the United States, an issue that drove a wedge between the Bush administration and Congress. But the ruling did give footing to those who say that terrorism suspects can be successfully and effectively prosecuted in civilian courts.

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