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ACLU Sues over FISA

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Moments like this are why I’m happy to be a card-carrying member of the ACLU. I may not like lattes, don’t drive a Volvo, but the ACLU makes me proud to be a liberal.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit Thursday over a controversial wiretapping law, challenging the constitutionality of the expanded spy powers Congress granted to the president on Wednesday.

The federal lawsuit was filed with the court just hours after Bush signed the bill into law.

The ACLU is suing on behalf of journalist and human rights groups, asking the court put a halt to Congress’s legalization of Bush’s formerly secret warrantless wiretapping program. The ACLU contends (PDF) the expanded spying power violates the Constitution’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

[From Bush Signs Spy Bill, ACLU Sues | Threat Level from Wired.com]


The ACLU contends those blanket powers to grab international communications of Americans without specific court orders violate the Fourth Amendment and would stymie journalists who often speak to confidential sources outside the country. Plaintiff Naomi Klein, the liberal columnist and author, said the surveillance would compromise her writing about international issues.

“If the U.S. government is given unchecked surveillance power to monitor reporters’ confidential sources, my ability to do this work will be seriously compromised,” Klein said.

Throw some coins towards the ACLU, or read more details of this suit

“Spying on Americans without warrants or judicial approval is an abuse of government power – and that’s exactly what this law allows. The ACLU will not sit by and let this evisceration of the Fourth Amendment go unchallenged,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “Electronic surveillance must be conducted in a constitutional manner that affords the greatest possible protection for individual privacy and free speech rights. The new wiretapping law fails to provide fundamental safeguards that the Constitution unambiguously requires.”

In today’s legal challenge, the ACLU argues that the new spying law violates Americans’ rights to free speech and privacy under the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution. The new law permits the government to conduct intrusive surveillance without ever telling a court who it intends to spy on, what phone lines and email addresses it intends to monitor, where its surveillance targets are located, why it’s conducting the surveillance or whether it suspects any party to the communication of wrongdoing.

Plaintiffs in today’s case are:

  • The Nation and its contributing journalists Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges
  • Amnesty International USA, Global Rights, Global Fund for Women, Human Rights Watch, PEN American Center, Service Employees International Union, Washington Office on Latin America, and the International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association
  • Defense attorneys Dan Arshack, David Nevin, Scott McKay and Sylvia Royce

Written by Seth Anderson

July 13th, 2008 at 10:23 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

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