ACLU Challenges Surveillance Powers

Civil liberties groups are using a long-shot approach in an effort to persuade the Supreme Court to limit the government's power to spy, filing an appeal yesterday on behalf of people who are unaware they are being monitored.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations hope to draw the justices into their first post-Sept. 11 anti-terror case with a challenge to the Justice Department's surveillance powers.

Congress gave the government broader spying authority after the terrorist attacks. The ACLU argued that the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or "spy court," misinterpreted the law, making it too easy for the government to obtain permission to intercept telephone conversations and e-mails and search private property, and then use the information in criminal cases. The ACLU and other critics say there are not enough checks to ensure the government's snooping does not stretch to law-abiding citizens.

The Supreme Court may not allow the appeal because the ACLU was not one of the parties in the spy court case. The ACLU filed arguments opposing the government's position but was not directly involved.

Kidney Dialysis, GPS Inventors Honored

A Dutch-born doctor who made the first kidney dialysis machine out of sausage casings and the co-inventors of the Global Positioning System won the top U.S. engineering awards. The two $500,000 prizes, awarded by the National Academy of Engineering, are considered the field's equivalent of the Nobel prizes, which do not have an engineering category.

Willem Kolff, 91, cobbled together his dialysis prototype in the 1940s under Nazi occupation. He also led teams that invented the heart-lung machine that made heart transplants and open-heart surgery possible, the intra-aortic balloon pump heart assist device, an artificial eye, and the artificial heart.

The Charles Stark Draper Prize went to Ivan Getting and Bradford Parkinson for the invention of the Global Positioning System, which started out as a secret military system for guiding missiles and aircraft and has since been adopted for hikers, boaters and automakers.

Getting invented the GPS in the 1950s, and Parkinson was the Defense Department program director who helped develop and engineer it.

Hispanics Less Inclined

To Back War on Iraq

Hispanics are cooler to the prospect of war against Iraq than the overall U.S. population, fearing among other things a loss of jobs and a greater crackdown on illegal immigration, according to a survey by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Only 48 percent of Latinos polled favor the use of U.S. ground troops to remove President Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, the Feb. 13-16 poll by the research organization revealed.

The support was slightly lower among foreign-born Latinos (46 percent) than their U.S.-born counterparts (52 percent), but both groups lagged behind the stronger support for military action revealed by other recent national polls.

A Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll conducted Feb. 7-9 showed 63 percent supported armed action against Iraq, and a CBS/New York Times survey registered a 66 percent backing.

-- Compiled from reports by the Associated Press and Reuters