Broad Coalition Sues NSA Over Unconstitutional Surveillance

By:  Thomas R. Eddlem
07/17/2013
       
Broad Coalition Sues NSA Over Unconstitutional Surveillance

A broad coalition has united in a new California-based lawsuit against the NSA for its unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping program PRISM.

The NSA's unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping program PRISM has succeeded in uniting much of the political spectrum in a new California-based lawsuit designed to protect civil liberties from the National Security Agency (NSA). The July 16 lawsuit against the NSA joins liberal groups such as People for the American Way and Greenpeace with three California-based Second Amendment groups, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and libertarian organizations such as NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and the Free Software Foundation.

The dangers of such wiretapping have hit home in recent days. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service's inspector general has informed Congress that IRS agents have already improperly accessed tax records in order to provide extra scrutiny for political candidates and donors. The IRS inspector general told Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a July 3 letter that in one case “we presented evidence of a willful unauthorized access to the Department of Justice, but the case was declined for prosecution,” and the IG is investigating two other cases of broader targeting of political candidates. 

If the federal government can misuse tax returns for political purposes, plaintiffs in the lawsuit might argue, what greater damage could be done with a far wider and more private assortment of personal information?

The lawsuit claims violations of the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by the NSA surveillance program, in addition to statutory violations of federal law enacted by Congress: 

Defendants' searching of the telephone communications information of Plaintiffs is done (a) without probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe that Plaintiffs, their members, or their staffs, have committed or are about to commit any crime or engage in any international terrorist activity; (b) without probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe that Plaintiffs, their members, or their staffs are foreign powers or agents of foreign powers; and (c) without probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe that Plaintiffs', their members', or their staffs' communications contain or pertain to foreign intelligence information or relate to an investigation to obtain foreign intelligence information.

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