Constitution??? What Constitution/?? ---J.
Court: NSA can refuse to say if lawyers wiretapped Wed Jun 25, 7:18 PM ET
WASHINGTON - The National Security Agency does not need to tell lawyers
for Guantanamo Bay detainees whether their phones were tapped as part of
the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program, a federal judge
The NSA has refused to say whether it listened in on the conversations of
the lawyers who are advising detainees being held at the U.S. naval
facility in Cuba. The NSA says even confirming the existence of such
wiretaps would jeopardize national security.
A federal judge in New York agreed, saying the super-secret agency can't
be forced to disclose information about the program.
"Confirming or denying whether plaintiffs' communication with their
clients has been intercepted would reveal information about the NSA's
capabilities and activities," U.S. District Judge Denise Cote wrote.
President Bush acknowledged in 2005 that, for years following the Sept.
11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the NSA intercepted international phone
conversations and e-mails involving U.S. citizens. The program did not
require warrants and operated without oversight from the nation's spy
court, which normally approves wiretaps of suspected terrorists and spies.
Since lawyers don't know whether their phones are tapped, some have
avoided international phone calls and e-mails with clients and family
members, said Shayana Kadidal, an attorney for the Center for
When calls must be made, "It means we begin conversations with, 'We can't
be certain the government isn't listening in on this call,'" Kadidal said.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the lawyers demanded to know whether
their calls were intercepted. The NSA refused to confirm or deny the
existence of such records. Such a response is allowed when acknowledging
the mere existence of a document would compromise intelligence operations.