Lawsuits may reveal Obama spying stance

Nov. 18, 2008 at 8:28 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Early indications of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's comfort with expanded government spying powers may be seen in some ongoing lawsuits, observers say.

As a U.S. senator from Illinois, Obama initially opposed a U.S. Senate bill to grant the White House expanded surveillance powers and give immunity to phone companies that aided the Bush administration's secret program of monitoring the international phone calls of terrorism suspects without a court warrant.

Obama ultimately voted to approve the bill, however. His advisers now seem split over whether to keep using the expanded spying powers, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

One indication will be how an Obama Justice Department responds to a suit in which a civil liberties group is suing the phone companies that took part in Bush' warrantless National Security Agency spying program, the newspaper said. The plaintiffs' attorneys say they are waiting to find out whether a federal judge will throw suit out based on immunity granted by Congress in June.

Other upcoming lawsuits center on an Islamic charity and a Muslim man who say their prosecutions were based on illegally obtained NSA wiretaps, the Times said.

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