Rights group challenges new intelligence surveillance bill

[JURIST] The Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website] asked a federal judge Thursday to strike down the Protect America Act 2007 [S 1927 materials; JURIST report] as unconstitutional. The new law, signed by US President George W. Bush Sunday, gives the executive branch expanded surveillance authority for a period of six months while Congress works on long-term legislation to "modernize" the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [text; JURIST news archive], but CCR argues that the law violates the Fourth Amendment [press release]:

The law effectively removes oversight for spying from the FISA court and leaves it up to the Executive Branch to monitor itself, with Attorney General Gonzales having the primary responsibility for oversight. For that reason, CCR attorneys will argue in court today that the new law violates the Fourth Amendment's requirement that judges approve warrants for surveillance and do so only on evidence of probable cause.
The argument came in a lawsuit [CCR materials] challenging the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive]. CCR says that the organization's efforts to defend terror detainees means that "it is virtually certain" that its confidential attorney-client communications have been intercepted as part of the administrations' surveillance strategy.

US District Judge Vaughn Walker is presiding over the CCR lawsuit and other consolidated challenges to the domestic spying program [JURIST report]. AP has more.

 

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