DETROIT - The Bush Administration argued in U.S. District Court on
Monday that it cannot defend itself against accusations that a domestic
spying program is illegal and unconstitutional because details of the
program would be revealed, rendering it ineffective and jeopardizing
"The president has decided that the program is necessary to protect and
defend the United States," Anthony Coppolino, a lawyer for the
Department of Justice said in the nation's first court hearing on
"Without evidence that goes to the heart of the matter, the president's
claims cannot be addressed."
The domestic surveillance program � in which the National Security
Agency taps calls between the U.S. and other countries � is being
challenged by lawyers, academicians, journalists, advocates for civil
liberties and Nazih Hassan, a Lebanese immigrant who lives in
Ypsilanti, Mich. They asked U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor to
order a halt to the spying.
The case is one of a few, and the first in which the government has
made an argument, that could determine how much power the president has
to conduct domestic spying without obtaining prior approval.
Diggs Taylor heard arguments for and against so-called summary judgment
Monday without issuing a decision or saying when she might. Another
hearing in the case is scheduled for July 10.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs argued that the Bush Administration's
position about state secrets is of little relevance.
"The issue in this case is simply whether the National Security
Administration is violating the law and the Constitution in
eavesdropping on the telephone calls of Americans without a warrant,"
said Ann Beeson, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.