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NSA Surveillance: The Litigation and its Implications

By Thomas R. McCarthy
February 03, 2007
On December 16, 2005, the New York Times reported that President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct surveillance of communications within the United States in the absence of court approval for the purposes of effectuating the mandate of the joint resolution Congress passed shortly after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. The day after the news leak, President Bush, in his weekly radio address, confi rmed the existence of the Terrorist Surveillance Program (“TSP”). The President stated that he had “authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations,” and he gave a limited description of the process used periodically to review and reauthorize the TSP. An additional element of the TSP was alleged in May 2006, when USA Today reported that AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth had provided the Government with access to the communications records of tens of millions of Americans, a charge the companies have consistently denied. The Government has not confirmed the existence of this alleged “records” element of the TSP....