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Archive for Saturday, March 25, 2006

Surveillance program could have caught doctors’, lawyers’ calls

March 25, 2006

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— The National Security Agency could have legally monitored ordinarily confidential communications between doctors and patients or attorneys and their clients, the Justice Department said Friday of its controversial warrantless surveillance program.

Responding to questions from Congress, the department also said that it sees no prohibition to using information collected under the program in court.

"Because collecting foreign intelligence information without a warrant does not violate the Fourth Amendment and because the Terrorist Surveillance Program is lawful, there appears to be no legal barrier against introducing this evidence in a criminal prosecution," the department said in responses to questions from lawmakers released Friday.

The department said that considerations, including whether classified information could be disclosed, must be weighed.

In classified court filings, the Justice Department has responded to questions about whether information from the government's warrantless surveillance program was used to prosecute terror suspects.

Since the program was disclosed in December, some skeptical lawmakers have investigated the Bush administration's legal footing, raising questions including whether the program could capture doctor-patient and attorney-client communications.

The department said the same criteria for the program would also apply to doctors' and lawyers' calls.

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