Published On: Wed, Jun 12th, 2013

ACLU sues over NSA phone surveillance, receives props from Judge Napolitano

In light of the revelation disclosed last week of the National Security Agency’s telephone surveillance as reported in The Guardian, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against several members of the Obama administration security team, challenging the government’s dragnet acquisition of Plaintiffs’ telephone records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

The suit charges that the program violates Americans’ constitutional rights of free speech, association, and privacy.

photo Charles Fettinger via Flickr

photo Charles Fettinger via Flickr

According to an ACLU news release Tuesday, the organization says “As an organization that advocates for and litigates to defend the civil liberties of society’s most vulnerable, the staff at the ACLU naturally use the phone—a lot—to talk about sensitive and confidential topics with clients, legislators, whistleblowers, and ACLU members. And since the ACLU is a VBNS customer, we were immediately confronted with the harmful impact that such broad surveillance would have on our legal and advocacy work.”

The ACLU’s complaint asserts that “the dragnet surveillance the government is carrying out under Section 215 infringes upon the ACLU’s First Amendment rights, including the twin liberties of free expression and free association. The nature of the ACLU’s work—in areas like access to reproductive services, racial discrimination, the rights of immigrants, national security, and more—means that many of the people who call the ACLU wish to keep their contact with the organization confidential. Yet if the government is collecting a vast trove of ACLU phone records—and it has reportedly been doing so for as long as seven years—many people may reasonably think twice before communicating with us.”

“This dragnet program is surely one of the largest surveillance efforts ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens,” said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director. “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.”

In what may be considered odd bedfellows to some, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano says the ACLU lawsuit is “right on the mark”.

In an interview with Neil Cavuto this week, Napolitano, a sharp critic of the Patriot Act from its inception says, “This lawsuit that the ACLU filed … may expose the government for what it’s done which is the opposite of what we hired it to do. We hired it to enforce the Constitution, to protect our freedoms, and instead it has done the opposite.”

Speaking of the surveillance program in general, Napolitano pulls no punches saying, “The fact that this has been happening in secret, the fact that more than half the country is being watched by America’s domestic spies is potentially the greatest single violation of the Constitution by the federal government in the history of the country.”


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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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