On Feb. 18, 2011, the Justice Department filed a notice that it would appeal a court decision that found the government illegally wire tapped phone conversations of an Islamic charity and its two American lawyers. The appeal seeks to overturn the first court ruling that the government had illegally wiretapped U.S. citizens under the warrantless wiretapping program started during the Bush administration. All previous lawsuits over the program had been unsuccessful, lacking public evidence of the illegal surveillance.
On March 31, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled there was enough evidence to show the government’s interception of telephone communications between Al-Haramain lawyers Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor to be “outside of the bounds of judicial scrutiny and in conflict with surveillance rules set by congress.” The government was ordered to pay more than $2.5 million in lawyer fees and damages. Click here for background information about this lawsuit.