A special appeals court for the first time has upheld a Bush administration program of warrantless surveillance.
In a ruling released Thursday, the court embraced the Protect America Act of 2007, which required telecommunications providers to assist the government for national security purposes in intercepting international phone calls and e-mails to and from points overseas.
The decision, which involves the gathering of foreign intelligence, was made last August but only released Thursday after it had been edited to omit classified information.
An unidentified telecommunications company had challenged the law.
The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review said the time needed to get a court warrant would hinder the government's ability to collect time-sensitive information, impeding vital national security interests.
The challenge to the law has presented no evidence of any actual harm or any broad potential for abuse, the court's three judges concluded.