(by Monisha
Bansal, CNSNews.com)
– The Department of Justice is
appealing a federal court ruling that would have shut down the National Security
Agency’s surveillance of communications between individuals in the U.S. and
suspected terrorists and their supporters outside the country. DOJ calls the
program a “critical tool” in combating terrorism.

The NSA’s “Terrorist
Surveillance Program” is designed to eavesdrop on telephone calls, email
exchanges and online chats between individuals suspected of ties to terrorism
outside the U.S. and those they communicate with inside the country. The
American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the plaintiffs in a lawsuit to
stop the surveillance, celebrated Thursday’s decision.

“Today’s ruling is a
landmark victory against the abuse of power that has become the hallmark of the
Bush administration,” Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said in a
statement. “Government spying on innocent Americans without any kind of warrant
and without Congressional approval runs counter to the very foundations of our

The Justice Department
said it will appeal U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor’s

“The Terrorist
Surveillance Program is a critical tool that ensures we have in place an early
warning system to detect and prevent a terrorist attack,” DOJ said in response
to Taylor’s ruling.

“In the ongoing conflict
with al Qaeda and its allies, the president has the primary duty under the
Constitution to protect the American people,” the DOJ statement continued. “The
Constitution gives the president the full authority necessary to carry out that
solemn duty, and we believe the program is lawful and protects civil

In her decision, Taylor
upheld the government’s right to keep intelligence information gathered in
anti-terrorism operations secret. But the government has no right to conduct
warrantless surveillance, she said, because it can obtain warrants for such
activities through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. That
special court was created in 1978 to secretly review wire tap and search warrant
requests for cases involving foreign agents spying inside the U.S.

A stay of Taylor’s ruling
was issued in response to the DOJ appeal. That will allow the NSA to continue
its surveillance operations while the case is pending.

Reprinted here
with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at


1.  What is the role of the DOJ? (Click here for the DOJ website.)

2.  What is the purpose of the NSA? (Click here for the NSA website.)

3.  Who is subject to surveillance under the “Terrorist Surveillance Program”?  Be specific.

4.  How does the ACLU characterize the NSA’s surveillance program?

5.  Why do you
think the NSA wants to conduct surveillance without using the FISA
Court? (Why do you think they want to monitor suspected terrorists
without getting warrants?)

6.  Do you
view the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” as government spying on
innocent Americans, or a necessary tool in preventing terrorist attacks
in America?  Explain your answer.

Ask 2-3 adults (parents, neighbors, relatives) what their answer is to
#6, including support for their opinions.  Do you agree with their

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