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Civil Liberties Groups to Sue US Over Domestic Spying

Two American civil liberties groups are expected to file lawsuits Tuesday in an effort to force the Bush administration to end its controversial domestic spying program.

The New York Times newspaper says the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights are seeking the immediate closure of the surveillance program, which they feel is illegal and unconstitutional.

The rights groups contend the government has been monitoring American lawyers, journalists and scholars with ties to the Middle East.

The Bush administration is strongly defending the legality and necessity of the surveillance program, which the president authorized more than four years ago, shortly after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

The U.S. Justice Department is expected to seek dismissal of the lawsuits, on the grounds that such actions could affect U.S. national security.

The environmental group Greenpeace and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, this country's largest Islamic advocacy group, have joined the ACLU and CCR lawsuits.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.