WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court dealt a setback Tuesday to civil rights and privacy advocates who oppose the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The justices, without comment, turned down an appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union to let it pursue a lawsuit against the program that began shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks...
"It's very disturbing that the president's actions will go unremarked upon by the court," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's national security project. "In our view, it shouldn't be left to executive branch officials alone to determine the limits."...
The Terrorist Surveillance Program no longer exists, although the administration has maintained it was legal.
The ACLU sued on behalf of itself, other lawyers, reporters and scholars, arguing that the program was illegal and that they had been forced to alter how they communicate with foreigners who were likely to have been targets of the wiretapping.
A federal judge in Detroit largely agreed, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs could not prove their communications had been monitored and thus could not prove they had been harmed by the program.
The government has refused to turn over information about the closely guarded program that could reveal who has been under surveillance.
ACLU officials described the situation as a "Catch-22" because the government says the identities of people whose communications have been intercepted is secret. But only people who know they have been wiretapped can sue over the program.