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EFF Files Suit Against NSA, President
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a pro-civil-liberties organization, announced on Thursday that it had filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency, President George W. Bush and other individuals on behalf of AT&T customers, asking that unconstitutional surveillance stop.
The lawsuit aims to end the collection of data and wiretapping by the NSA targeting ordinary Americans and hold the architects of the various surveillance initiatives responsible for any violations of the U.S. Constitution, the EFF said in a statement. The lawsuit uses evidence already made public to make its case, since the Bush Administration has not been shy about using the state secrets privilege to quash past lawsuits. A previous lawsuit brought by the EFF against telecommunications giant AT&T is one of the only cases against the surveillance programs to have survived the government's legal tactics.
"In addition to suing AT&T, we've now opened a second front in the battle to stop the NSA's illegal surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and hold personally responsible those who authorized or participated in the spying program," Kevin Bankston, senior staff attorney for the EFF, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. "For years, the NSA has been engaged in a massive and massively illegal fishing expedition through AT&T's domestic networks and databases of customer records. Our goal in this new case against the government, as in our case against AT&T, is to dismantle this dragnet surveillance program as soon as possible."
Civil-rights groups have had a number of setback in their attempts to discover the extent that the U.S. government eavesdropped on ordinary Americans in the name of anti-terrorism efforts. Several media reports have described evidence that federal agencies had tapped into telecommunications networks and collected data on U.S. citizens as well as wiretapped communications between U.S. citizens and suspected terrorists.
For nearly two years, lawmakers have focused on crafting an amendment to the existing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to make wiretapping international terrorism suspects easier. The Senate and House settled on a compromise bill that President Bush signed in July. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) immediately filed a lawsuit contesting the constitutionality of the legislation. Recently, the court that oversees the FISA process denied legal requests to open up the secretive process.
The latest lawsuit specifically names President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney as defendants.
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Posted by: Robert Lemos