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US court ruling endorses Bush surveillance policy

US court ruling endorses Bush surveillance policy

A special U.S. appeals court has upheld a Bush administration program of warrantless surveillance.
In a ruling released Thursday, the court embraced the Protect America Act of 2007, which required telecommunications providers to assist the government for national secutity purposes in intercepting international phone calls and e-mails to and from points overseas.
The decision was made last August but just released in an edited form Thursday to omit classified information.
An unidentified telecommunications company had challenged the law.
The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review said the time needed to get a court warrant would hinder the government's ability to collect time-sensitive information, impeding vital national security interests.
The challenge to the law has presented no evidence of any actual harm or any broad potential for abuse, the three judges on the court concluded.
The Fourth Amendment protects the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. Historically, courts have ruled that the more important the governmental interest that is at stake, the greater the intrusion that may be tolerated.
The decision does not address the legality of an earlier warrantless surveillance program that the Bush administration secretly put in place without legislation from Congress, and which The New York Times exposed in 2005. The 2007 law that was the focus of the court ruling expired in 2008, but intelligence gathering efforts that it authorized remain in effect.
"Our decision does not constitute an endorsement of broad-based, indiscriminate executive power," the court said. "Rather, our decision recognizes that where the government has instituted several lawyers of serviceable safeguards ... its efforts to protect national security should not be frustrated by the courts."
The Justice Department said it was pleased with the ruling that is only the second by the court since its establishment more than 30 years ago.


Updated : 2021-04-18 05:55 GMT+08:00