NEW YORK – Civil liberties groups filed lawsuits in two cities Tuesday seeking to block President Bush's domestic eavesdropping program, arguing the electronic surveillance of American citizens was unconstitutional.
The New York suit, filed on behalf of the center and individuals, names Bush, the head of the National Security Agency, and the heads of the other major security agencies, challenging the NSA's surveillance of persons within the United States without judicial approval or statutory authorization.
It seeks an injunction that would prohibit the government from conducting surveillance of communications in the United States without warrants.
The Detroit suit, which also names the NSA, was filed with the ACLU along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Greenpeace and several individuals.
Messages seeking comment were left Tuesday morning with the National Security Agency and the Justice Department.
Bush, who said the wiretapping is legal and necessary, has pointed to a congressional resolution passed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that authorized him to use force in the fight against terrorism as allowing him to order the program.
The program authorized eavesdropping of international phone calls and e-mails of people deemed a terror risk.
The Detroit lawsuit says the plaintiffs, who frequently communicate by telephone and e-mail with people in the Middle East and Asia, have a "well-founded belief" that their communications are being intercepted by the government.
"By seriously compromising the free speech and privacy rights of the plaintiffs and others, the program violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution," the lawsuit states.