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ACLU sues NSA, FBI, US Attorney General over phone monitoring program

updated 05:06 pm EDT, Tue June 11, 2013

Group seeks deletion of records, admission of constitutional violation

The American Civil Liberties Union, in conjunction with the New York Civil Liberties Union, is suing the US government. The suit alleges that the National Security Agency's phone monitoring program violates the groups' first and fourth amendment Constitutional rights violating freedom of speech, freedom of press, as well as unreasonable search and seizure. Both groups are Verizon customers, and the belief is that the groups' rights are being violated by the sweeping nature of the monitoring program.

ACLU legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement that "this dragnet program is surely one of the largest surveillance efforts ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens. It is the equivalent of requiring every American to file a daily report with the government of every location they visited, every person they talked to on the phone, the time of each call, and the length of every conversation. The program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act, and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy."

Specifically named as defendants in the suit are Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, Director of the National Security Agency Keith B. Alexander, Secretary of Defense Charles T. Hagel, Attorney General of the US Eric H. Holder, and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III. The ACLU is seeking injunction of the phone monitoring program, purge of plaintiff's communication records, and a fee award. The various US intelligence agencies named in the suit have yet to publicly respond.

by MacNN Staff



  1. lkrupp

    Junior Member

    Joined: 05-13-01

    They will get precisely nowhere with this lawsuit. The government will invoke national security and the SCOTUS will back them up. They know it too. It's just a political move to get their talking points out there. A recent survey indicated 56% of the public thinks the program is okay.

  1. andrewbw

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-31-01

    Just because idiots think it's OK doesn't make it ok.

  1. Bobfozz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-28-08

    your comment

  1. lkrupp

    Junior Member

    Joined: 05-13-01

    But the "idiots" control things while you enlightened elite sit back, complain, pontificate, but are powerless to do anything about it.

  1. davidlfoster

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-06-05

    The program is unnecessarily invasive, unwarranted, and being administered in secret. Even the legal justification and the government's interpretation of the limitations of the legal authority used to justify the program are classified. Totalitarian governments might tolerate such arrogant abuse of power, but these types of programs have no place in democracies.

  1. shawnde

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-01-08


    While I agree with the spirit of your comment, there is also a misconception .... the USA is NOT a democracy .... sure there are a lot of talking points and PR, but whenever you hear the words "Executive Branch" or "Executive Power", you can be sure that there is very little of your democracy left. Combine that with the massive lobbying and buy-off of US congressman, you can see why it become even more ridiculous.

    In my opinion, the USA is a Totalitarian type of government, much like Saddam Hussein. And specifically one that's based in the military. In a mild way, it's a Military dictatorship, which masqurades itself as a quasi-democratic society, which on the surface seems rather "free" and they hold "elections" (where people cheat ... and they still hold office), etc.

    I think in that context, it shouldn't be surprising that they've done this. You should see the movie "The Listening".

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    lkrupp - I have to point out that the statistics you cite -- 56 percent approval -- was from a poll where the public saw it as okay *within limits,* meaning more limits than are presently in place.

    Also, let's remember that the public -- though generally wise in a collective sense IMO -- have also given high approval ratings (for a little while) to things like the Iraq war which later -- on consideration -- became markedly less popular. Likewise, "the public" has given rising support for issues that just a couple of years ago were way less popular -- including the closing of Guantanamo and the legalization of marriage equality. We've seen big shifts in public support for things like interracial marriage and immigration as well.

    So defending an idea by citing "public support" is often extremely dubious unless you can show unwavering and unchanging support of that idea.

  1. Sebastien

    Registered User

    Joined: 04-29-00

    Interesting how the government rationalises these laws/programs by claiming they're to "protect its citizens from enemies" without realising that the government itself is sometimes the "enemy".

  1. RockoBoffo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-12-13

    Statements like "it's a publicity stunt because they aren't guaranteed to win" are useless.

    The ACLU is suing first and foremost, with the hope of winning. Secondly, to force the government to defend the legality of their actions, and lastly - to influence public opinion, and that's also legitimate in a democracy.

    Calling it a 'publicity stunt' is meaningless, it furthers the debate not at all.

    Secondly the claim that the public approves of a secret program that has only been partially exposed is ludicrous.

    The public is largely outraged and does not support this action - and to the extent that some people don't care, its only because the government has been issuing denials and continues to lie about the program.

    What they've been told is that the program only foils terrorist plots and the exact extent of it was exposed, and anything not yet exposed - isn't happening.

    Well bollocks.

    And the damage is done - polls or no polls, you have to observe the fallout.

    For the first time in my life - many people don't consider the U.S. to be a Democracy.

    Pseudo-democracy is the term. We vote - but not on policies - those are secret. We vote for candidates - but their actual policies are hidden from us and contrary to the platform they ran on.

    It's a charade - not real Democracy. Real democracy requires rule of law, due process, and the ability to discuss and influence policy by the electorate. We don't have that.

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