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8 Apr, 2009 10:07

Obama defends Bush’s wire-taps

U.S. President Barack Obama wants a lawsuit that alleges the Bush administration was involved in the illegal surveillance of Americans’ telephone and e-mail communications to be dismissed.

Wire tapping without a warrant was just one of his predecessor’s controversial policies. But it looks like the new President’s Department of Justice is keen to defend it.

The law suit is filed against the National Security Agency (NSA), which was given permission to wiretap people’s conversations within the U.S. after 9/11.

The so-called USA Patriot Act, among other anti-terrorist measures, increased the ability of law enforcement agencies to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records.

Despite all it's toughness, the Act didn’t prove its efficiency, as a recent report issued by the Congressional Government Accounting Office showed how easily one can get a genuine American passport using falsified documents at a passport office.

The Obama Justice Department claims in its motion that litigation over the wiretapping program would require the government to disclose privileged "state secrets."

Obama, who criticized Bush for overusing the State Secrets Privilege Act during the election, seems to be following his example, which troubles a lot of those who voted for him.

The State Secrets Privilege Act is an evidentiary rule created by U.S. legal precedent back in 1953. It allows the exclusion of evidence from a legal case based solely on an affidavit submitted by the government stating court proceedings might disclose sensitive information which might endanger national security and military secrets.

This is not the first case regarding the wiretapping issue. There was a law suit against a major U.S. telecom company, AT&T, for handing the information about their customers to the NSA in 2006. At that time, the government dismissed it.