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US Says Wiretap Program Will Now Require Court Approval | More Trouble for Somalia?

Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

This week -- new developments in two stories we reported on last year.

In August, a federal judge tried to stop what the Bush administration calls the Terrorist Surveillance Program. A presidential order let the National Security Agency read e-mails and listen to calls to or from al-Qaida suspects in the United States without a court order.

The judge in Detroit said the program violated rights of free speech and privacy. She ruled it unconstitutional and in violation of a federal intelligence law.

In October, an appeals court said the government could continue the program while it appealed the ruling.

But this week the administration said it has ended the use of surveillance without court approval. It says the program now operates under rules prepared by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Democrats, newly in control of Congress, praised the move but said it should have happened sooner. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said there are still questions about exactly how the program will work.

The Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales this week. He says officials do not want to release too many details, for security reasons.

President Bush secretly approved the surveillance program after the September eleventh, two thousand one, attacks on the United States. After the attacks, Congress gave him the power to use all necessary force against those responsible.

The New York Times reported the existence of the program at the end of two thousand five.

Last June, we reported on the situation in Somalia. The Islamic Courts movement had just captured Mogadishu, the capital. Last month, Ethiopian troops entered Somalia. They helped its temporary government to force Islamist fighters from Mogadishu and other parts of the country.

But this week there was a political move that American and European officials say could hurt efforts to unite Somalis. The Somali parliament voted its pro-Islamist speaker, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, out of his job.

Last year, Mister Aden tried to negotiate peace with the Islamic movement. President Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi rejected his efforts. At that time, the movement controlled Mogadishu.

Ethiopian troops are expected to leave the country soon. There are worries of renewed anarchy and civil war.

Eight thousand troops are needed for a proposed African peacekeeping force. Uganda was the first to offer any. On Friday, an official of Uganda's ruling party told VOA that the party supports deploying one thousand five hundred soldiers.

Somalia has lacked an effective central government since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in nineteen ninety-one.

Last week, the United States launched an air strike in an area of southern Somalia believed to be a hiding place for members of al-Qaida.

IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English was written by Brianna Blake. I’m Steve Ember.