Michigan Judge Won't Stop NSA Hearings

A federal judge will go ahead with hearings in a legal challenge to a terrorism surveillance program run by the National Security Agency.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor also criticized the Justice Department for failing to respond to the legal challenge, The Detroit News reported Friday.

The NSA and the Justice Department declined immediate comment. The Bush administration has said that hearings would reveal state secrets that affect national security.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Detroit and the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York filed lawsuits against the program in January, saying it violates Americans' rights to free speech and to privacy.

In March, the plaintiffs asked the judge to declare the National Security Agency's program illegal. They said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires that the spy agency go to a secret court in order to spy within the United States.

The government filed a motion saying that no court can consider the issues because of a privilege against revealing state secrets, if doing so harms national security. The judge said she will hear the government's motion only after proceeding with a June 12 hearing on the plaintiffs' motion to summarily declare the spying illegal.

"Although defendants have not responded to said motion they may, if they appear, argue against it," she said.