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Bush Team States Spy Case

October 14, 2006|From the Associated Press

DETROIT — The Justice Department on Friday asked a federal appeals court to throw out a lower court decision that said the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program was unconstitutional.

The president has said the program is needed to detect terrorists. Opponents argue it oversteps constitutional boundaries on free speech, privacy and executive powers.

Government lawyers said in pleadings filed Friday with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati that the surveillance program "is necessary to protect the nation from an ongoing national security threat of the highest order and is vital to waging and winning the ongoing armed conflict."

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit ruled Aug. 17 that the program violates the rights to free speech and privacy and the separation of powers.

Taylor's injunction "dismantles a vital tool that already has helped detect and disrupt Al Qaeda plots," the Justice Department attorneys argued.

A three-judge panel of the Cincinnati-based appeals court ruled Oct. 4 that the administration could keep the program in place while it appeals Taylor's decision. The judges said their ruling considered the likelihood an appeal would succeed, the potential damage to both sides, and the public interest. The appeal is likely to take months.

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