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Judge orders Justice to produce wiretap memos

A judge has ordered the Justice Department to produce by Nov. 17 White House memos that provide the legal basis for the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 warrantless wiretapping program.

U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. said he will review the memos in private to determine whether any information can be released publicly without violating attorney-client privilege or jeopardizing national security.

The department had argued that the memos were protected attorney-client communications and contain classified information.

But Kennedy said that the attorney-client argument was "too vague" and that he would have to look at the documents himself to determine if that argument is valid and also to see if there is information that can be released without endangering national security.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said Saturday the department is reviewing the opinion and will "respond appropriately in court."

Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush authorized the National Security Agency to spy on calls between people in the United States and suspected terrorists abroad without obtaining court warrants. The administration said the president had inherent authority under the Constitution to order warrantless domestic spying.

Houston

FEMA official calls response to Ike slow

A top official of the Federal Emergency Management Agency admits that the agency was sluggish in its response to Texans affected by Hurricane Ike's devastation, according to a newspaper report.

Deputy FEMA Administrator Harvey Johnson Jr. said he intends to improve the help that the agency provides to Texans whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the September hurricane. He said FEMA will deploy mobile homes to the hardest-hit areas more rapidly, review rules that might be causing premature denials of assistance and provide more resources to Texas.

Ike came ashore near Galveston on Sept. 13, causing at least $11-billion in damage to Texas.

Johnson met this past week with local officials in Galveston, the Beaumont-Port Arthur area and Houston.

"I think that I agree with the elected officials I met with," Johnson told the Houston Chronicle. "They all have called and expressed the concern that FEMA is moving too slowly. Within FEMA, there is a renewed sense of energy to redouble or triple our efforts."

Elsewhere

SUMTER, S.C.: An ex-convict who thought he was being robbed gunned down a 12-year-old trick-or-treater, spraying at least 29 rounds with an AK-47 assault rifle from inside his home after hearing a knock on the door, police said Saturday. Quentin Patrick, 22, is accused of killing 12-year-old T.J. Darrisaw on Friday night. T.J.'s 9-year-old brother and their father were injured but were released after being treated at a hospital. Police said they do not believe Patrick was under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the shooting.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska: Wildlife officials have killed a 200-pound black bear that was raiding garbage in a home driveway while children were trick-or-treating in the Anchorage neighborhood on Halloween. Officials said children were not in any danger, but wildlife officials were concerned because the bear refused to leave the garbage when they tried to chase it into a nearby park.

DALLAS: Northern Texas got more rare tremors Saturday, a day after several minor earthquakes in the area. The U.S. Geological Survey said a quake near Grand Prairie measured 2.5 magnitude and one near Irving 2.7.

Times wires

Judge orders Justice to produce wiretap memos 11/01/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 8:37am]
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