Judge tells White House to release wiretapping docs

The White House is pictured shortly after sunrise in Washington, August 1, 2007. REUTERS/Jason Reed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration must give to a federal court documents related to government wiretapping of domestic communications without a warrant after the September 11 attacks, according to a recent court order.

U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy signed the order on Friday requiring the U.S. Justice Department to provide the court for private review certain documents that were sought in lawsuits filed by the civil liberties groups.

Kennedy ordered the administration to provide the documents from the White House Office of Legal Counsel by November 17, and said he will review them in private to see if their release would endanger national security.

The department argued that it was serving as the attorney for the administration and thus attorney-client privilege would allow it to keep classified information from public viewing, but Kennedy said its arguments were too vague.

“The attorney-client privilege is not necessarily the means for protecting this information,” the order said. “Without more information, the court cannot conclude that the attorney-client privilege applies.”

Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, said: “We’re reviewing the opinion and will respond appropriately in court.”

Reporting by John Poirier, editing by Jackie Frank