“Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows,” Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest. The misery — of many sorts — that has surfaced in the wake of this summer’s National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance revelations has brought together two erstwhile political enemies.
On Wednesday, September 4, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) authored a blog post reporting that “an impressive array of organizations and individuals are expected to file amicus briefs today in support of the ACLU's constitutional challenge to the government's collection of the call records of virtually everyone in the United States.”
Perhaps the most unlikely member of the coalition is the National Rifle Association (NRA).
In its brief filed in support of the ACLU’s legal challenge to the NSA’s broad surveillance activity, the NRA identified the federal government’s search and seizure of the electronic communications of Americans as a threat to their liberty that could ultimately aid in the backdoor creation of a national gun owner registry. Specifically, the NRA’s brief argues:
The mass surveillance program raises both issues, potentially providing the government not only with the means of identifying members and others who communicate with the NRA and other advocacy groups, but also with the means of identifying gun owners without their knowledge or consent, contrary to longstanding congressional policy repeatedly reaffirmed and strengthened by Congresses that enacted and reauthorized the legislation at issue in this case. The potential effect on gun owners’ privacy is illustrative of the potential effect of the government’s interpretation of the statute on other statutorily protected privacy rights.
In response to the flurry of filings from groups backing its efforts to thwart the growth of the surveillance state, the ACLU called the briefs “a real testament to the fact that the government’s dragnet surveillance practices are offensive to Americans from across the political spectrum.”
Other groups uniting with the ACLU include the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the PEN American Center, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The ACLU reports that the EFF’s brief will be submitted on behalf of “members of Congress, including Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), one of the authors of the Patriot Act.”
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