Critics and supporters of the U.S. government’s domestic surveillance program met in court on Monday to argue its merits—or lack thereof—as well as the initiative’s constitutionality, the Associated Press reports via the New York Post.
Those against the program claim that it violates rights of free speech and privacy that every American is entitled to under the Constitution, while supporters say the surveillance is legal and a necessary part of the Bush administration’s war on terror.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought its case to court on Monday, to attempt to bar the tapping of U.S. citizens’ phones or other voice communications, like voice-over-IP (VoIP) services, by the U.S. government without a warrant, the AP reports.
The Bush administration has requested that U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor throw out the suit because it says any further legal action could expose sensitive state secrets, according to the AP.
The government has admitted to listening in on international communications between Americans and parties outside the United States without court-issued warrants, and it defends the legality of such actions by saying they’re covered by a congressional resolution passed following the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, the AP reports.
The ACLU and a number of entities that have sided with it, including handfuls of journalists, attorneys and academics, charge that the domestic spying program has negatively affected their professions because international acquaintances, colleagues or sources have become hesitant to communication via phone or VoIP due to concerns over U.S. government surveillance, according to the AP.
The ACLU’s associate legal director, Ann Beeson, told the AP she doesn’t believe further litigation would put state secrets at risk of exposure, as the government has already admitted to spying on U.S. citizens without court approval.
Beeson told a number of reporters last week, “The framers never intended to give the president the power to ignore the laws of Congress even during wartime and emergencies,” according to the AP.
A related lawsuit has been filed against the government regarding warrantless wiretapping by the Center for Constitutional Rights in federal court in New York, the AP reports.
Just last week, a U.S. appeals court upheld a 2004 FCC ruling that found VoIP providers must grant the government the capabilities to tap Internet voice services.
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