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DOJ white paper: President authorized to conduct warrantless wiretaps

[JURIST] The US Justice Department [official website] Thursday released [letter to Senate Majority Leader, PDF] a 42-page white paper [text, PDF] laying out a legal basis for the domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive] run by the National Security Agency [official website]. The paper argues that the NSA activities are supported by the president's position as Commander in Chief and congressional authorization for the war on al Qaeda under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, and moreover "fall within a well-established exception to the warrant requirement and [satisfy] the Fourth Amendment's fundamental requirement of reasonableness." The white paper comes ahead of Congressional hearings into the legality of the program and follows the release earlier this month of a report [PDF] by the Congressional Research Service [official website] suggesting that the legal justification of the program "does not seem to be as well-grounded" [JURIST report] as the administration had asserted [JURIST document] in a prior analysis. The New York Times has more.

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