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Federal judge axes Bush mass surveillance

Ruled 'unconstitutional'

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A Detroit federal judge has declared the Bush administration's warrantless wiretap scheme unconstitutional.

Ruling on a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the government, US District Judge Anna Taylor said that the electronic dragnet violates the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the separation of powers mandated by the Constitution.

"It was never the intent of the Framers to give the president such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights," she wrote.

She added that the administration's actions also clearly violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The spy scheme, euphemized by the Administration as the "Terrorist Surveillance Program," uses the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on the phone call and email content of US citizens communicating overseas, without a warrant.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has appealed the ruling, and issued a press release complaining that the program is an "essential tool for the intelligence community in the war on terror."

"In the ongoing conflict with al Qaeda and its allies, the president has the primary duty under the Constitution to protect the American people," the Department claimed. "The Constitution gives the president the full authority necessary to carry out that solemn duty, and we believe the program is lawful and protects civil liberties."

The government complained that it can't prove its claims without revealing state secrets, and letting the terrorists win. The judge rejected that outright, claiming that the government's "arguments that they cannot defend this case without the use of classified information [is] disingenuous and without merit."

The ruling will not be implemented immediately, to give DoJ a chance to appeal. ®

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