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Civil Liberties Groups Sue to Stop Domestic Spying Program

Two American civil liberties groups have filed lawsuits Tuesday to try to force the Bush administration to end its domestic spying program.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights are seeking a court order declaring the program illegal.

Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to monitor phone calls and e-mails between people in the United States and overseas without court approval. The Bush administration says the program is legal and necessary.

The civil rights groups contend the government has been monitoring American lawyers, journalists and scholars with ties to the Middle East, and say this violates their constitutional rights to privacy and free speech.

On Tuesday, Democratic former Vice President Al Gore said President Bush broke the law by approving the wiretapping, and called for an independent investigation. A White House spokesman Tuesday accused Gore of hypocrisy, saying the Clinton administration had authorized warrantless physical searches.

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