US court rules against Bush wiretapping justification
A federal US judge ruled that the administration of former US president George W Bush overstepped its authority when wiretapping an Islamic charity, DPA reported.
San Francisco District Judge Vaughn Walker on Wednesday rejected the administration's justification for warrantless wiretapping of suspected terrorists in the case of the Oregon-based Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The now-defunct charity, one of several plaintiffs in similar cases, was the only one who had evidence of wiretapping.
Claiming he had the authority to override a 1978 law, Bush allowed agents after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to intercept phone calls or e-mails of US citizens to suspected foreign terrorists without a court warrant.
The theory of "unfettered executive-branch discretion" holds an "obvious potential for governmental abuse and overreaching," the paper quoted Walker as saying.
Al-Haramain became aware of the surveillance when the government by mistake sent it a document that showed two of its lawyers had been wiretapped.
Jon Eisenberg, the charity's lawyer, welcomed the decision, saying it showed the Bush administration's wiretapping programme had been unlawful.
"Everybody has to follow the law, including the president," he said.
The Justice Department, which has sought to dismiss the case, said it was reviewing the decision, CNN reported.