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U.S. Seeks to Continue Intelligence Program; Judge Finds It Illegal

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

A federal judge in the United States says the Terrorist Surveillance Program violates the Constitution. This is the first such ruling against the secret program approved by President Bush. The National Security Agency established the program after the attacks on the United States on September eleventh, two thousand one.

The program lets the agency monitor the international calls and e-mail of individuals in the United States without the need for a court order.

The Justice Department is moving quickly to appeal the ruling by Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit, Michigan. Her order Thursday to stop the program will not be enforced at least until she hears arguments on September seventh.

The American Civil Liberties Union brought the case in January for a group including reporters, researchers and criminal defense lawyers. They say the program interferes with their work and violates free speech and privacy rights.

Judge Taylor agreed. She suggested that the president acted like a king and violated the separation of powers in the Constitution. The judge is a former civil rights worker. President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the court in nineteen seventy-nine.

Administration officials say the surveillance program is carefully administered and has helped stop terrorist attacks. On Friday President Bush condemned the ruling. He said those who praise it do not understand the nature of the world in which we now live.

The ruling came as anti-terrorism officials continued to investigate a reported plot to bomb flights from Britain to the United States. British police said last week that they had prevented a plan to carry liquid explosives onto airplanes.

More than twenty suspects have been arrested in Britain. Pakistan holds several others.

A British judge this week gave police several more days to question twenty-three suspects without criminal charges. The judge said two suspects could be held until Monday and the others until Wednesday. Police could ask to keep the suspects longer.

A new anti-terrorism law in Britain gives police more time to hold people without charges, up to twenty-eight days.

Britain strengthened its laws after the bombings last year in the London transport system. Some people say Muslim communities are being unfairly targeted under the new measures. For others, the arrests last week only added to fears about so-called homegrown terrorists.

Airports in Britain and the United States increased security measures. Officials banned travelers from carrying liquids onto flights in almost all cases.

Pakistani officials say they have information to suspect al-Qaida involvement behind the plot. They have suggested that it was timed to mark the fifth anniversary of the September eleventh attacks.

And that's IN THE NEWS, in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake and online at I’m Steve Ember.