Appeals court rejects ACLU challenge to wiretapping


The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed an ACLU challenge to the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The three-judge panel ruled 2 to 1, claiming the initial ACLU suit had no merit because it couldn't prove the plaintiffs had actually been wiretapped. Needless to say, ACLU has no access to the secret records of the NSA and won't be getting them any time soon.

The court vacated a lower court finding that the NSA's Terrorist Surveillance Program, which monitors phone calls inside the US from parties outside the country, was illegal. ACLU represented mostly journalists and attorneys, saying it hinders their ability communicate with sources and assure confidentiality.

ACLU previously won a summary judgment against the program from a district judge, who said the Bush Administration had violated the First Amendment rights. NSA appealed that ruling in federal court. Said ACLU Director Steven Shapiro in a statement: "As a result of [the] decision, the Bush administration has been left free to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Congress adopted almost 30 years ago to prevent the executive branch from engaging in precisely this kind of unchecked surveillance."

The ACLU could and may file a petition for grant of writ of certiorari, seeking release from the Circuit Court for appeal to the US Supreme Court.