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Of Lawyers and Eavesdropping

As details emerged last week of the National Security Agency's massive eavesdropping on ordinary citizens, two New Jersey public interest lawyers sued Verizon Communications for $5 billion Friday, asserting that it violated privacy laws by turning over phone records.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported yesterday on the role played by the NSA's own lawyers in pushing back against Vice President Cheney's efforts to widen the eavesdropping even further to include purely domestic calls. The report said:

"N.S.A. lawyers, trained in the agency's strict rules against domestic spying and reluctant to approve any eavesdropping without warrants, insisted that it should be limited to communications into and out of the country."

The lawyers' position prevailed. Still, the article notes:

"Even with the N.S.A. lawyers' reported success in limiting its scope, the program represents a fundamental expansion of the agency's practices, one that critics say is illegal."

One can only wonder what might have happened had the lawyers not stood their ground.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 15, 2006 at 02:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


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