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Federal Judge Finds N.S.A. Wiretaps Were Illegal
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times

New York Times, April 1, 2010
Posted: April 5th, 2010

A federal judge ruled [on March 31] that the National Security Agencys program of surveillance without warrants was illegal, rejecting the Obama administrations effort to keep shrouded in secrecy one of the most disputed counterterrorism policies of former President George W. Bush. In a 45-page opinion, Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the government had violated a 1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance when it intercepted phone calls of Al Haramain, a now-defunct Islamic charity in Oregon, and of two lawyers representing it in 2004. Declaring that the plaintiffs had been subjected to unlawful surveillance, the judge said the government was liable to pay them damages. The ruling by Judge Walker, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, rejected the Justice Departments claim first asserted by the Bush administration and continued under President Obama that the charitys lawsuit should be dismissed without a ruling on the merits because allowing it to go forward could reveal state secrets. The judge characterized that expansive use of the so-called state-secrets privilege as amounting to unfettered executive-branch discretion that had obvious potential for governmental abuse and overreaching.

Note: For illumination of the dark world of state secrecy, click here.

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