US government 'can continue' eavesdropping

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Thursday, October 5, 2006

A US federal appeals court has ruled that the US government can continue wiretapping without warrants until its appeal against an earlier ruling has been heard.

When the case was brought to federal judge Anna Diggs Taylor by civil liberties campaigners, specifically the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in August last year, she ruled the practice unconstitutional, a ruling which the federal government had appealed against. The 6th US Circuit Court has since suspended that ruling.

The Terrorist Surveillance Program, as the program is known, was approved by President Bush after the September 11 attacks. It allows the monitoring of telephone and email traffic in and out of the US.

The Bush administration has welcomed the ruling.

In a statement, White House press secretary Dana Perino said that "We are pleased to see that it will be allowed to continue while the Court of Appeals examines the trial court's decision, with which we strongly disagree". Washington has also said that the interception of such traffic is legal and is necessary in what President Bush describes as the "war on terror".