17 August 2006

Cease and Desist...

Curious George meets a Federal Judge and learns a new, scary, big word 'UNCONSTITUTIONAL'...


US Judge Rules Wiretaps Illegal
A US programme to tap some phones without warrants is unconstitutional, and must be halted at once, a federal judge in Detroit has ruled.

The scheme, approved by President George W Bush in 2001, involves tapping conversations between some callers in the US and people in other countries.

Civil liberties campaigners brought the case against the programme, which was uncovered by the US media.

The White House said the scheme was legal and it would seek an appeal.

Spokesman Tony Snow said the programme was "firmly grounded in law and regularly reviewed to make sure steps are taken to protect civil liberties."

"We couldn't disagree more with this ruling, and the justice department will seek an immediate stay of the opinion and appeal," he said in a statement.

Mr Bush authorised the Terrorist Surveillance Programme, as the secret interception scheme is known, after the 11 September 2001 attacks on Washington and New York and insists that it is a vital tool in the US war on terror.

Bush setback

But after the programme was uncovered by the media a year ago, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit arguing that the secret interception of US phone calls was unconstitutional.

In her 43-page ruling on the case, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor said that the surveillance programme violated protections on free speech and privacy.

"Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our constitution," Judge Taylor wrote.

Ann Beeson, the ACLU's associate legal director and the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said that "by holding that even the president is not above the law, the court has done its duty".

Correspondents say the ruling is another setback for the president's self-proclaimed wartime powers.

He has already been rebuked by the US Supreme Court over his plans to try suspects being held in Guantanamo Bay. The Supreme Court stated that the president did not have a blank cheque.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/08/17 21:43:00 GMT



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