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Lawsuits filed over NSA domestic wiretaps

[JURIST] A coalition of civil rights groups, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit [ACLU complaint, PDF; press release] Tuesday challenging the Bush administration's warrantless domestic spying program [JURIST news archive]. In the ACLU lawsuit [fact sheet; additional materials] the plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the NSA program, which authorizes warrantless wiretaps on international communications originating in the US, is unconstitutional under the First and Fourth Amendments and a permanent injunction barring the NSA from continuing the program. A separate lawsuit [CCR complaint, PDF; press release] was also filed Tuesday by the Center for Constitutional Rights. The CCR lawsuit alleges that privileged attorney-client communications were intercepted by the National Security Agency [official website] and also seeks a declaration that the program is unconstitutional. The two lawsuits, the first major challenges to the program since it was made public [JURIST report] in December, come the day after former Vice President Al Gore accused President Bush of repeatedly breaking the law [JURIST report] by authorizing the wiretaps. The administration has repeatedly defended the legality of the program [JURIST document] and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told [transcript] CNN's Larry King Monday that "this program from its inception has been carefully reviewed by lawyers throughout the administration, people who are experienced in this area of the law, experienced regarding this technology and we believe the president does have legal authorities to authorize this program." It is expected that the administration will oppose the lawsuits on national security grounds. The New York Times has more.

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