EFF sues NSA over warrantless wiretaps

The EFF has filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency as a follow-up to its stymied suit against AT&T. Five individuals are lead plaintiffs in a suit seeking class action status against President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Cheney's chief of staff David Addington, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others.

The EFF has filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency as a follow-up to its stymied suit against AT&T. Five individuals are lead plaintiffs in a suit seeking class action status against President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Cheney's chief of staff David Addington, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others. The suit relies on the same documents – provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein – that EFF used in the AT&T suit. That suit was effectively stopped by a law that gave telecoms immunity from such suits – "unconstitutionally," EFF says.

"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," said Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "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."

The suit also sues the nation's leaders responsible for initiating the spying program.

"Demanding personal accountability from President Bush, Vice President Cheney and others responsible for the NSA's dragnet surveillance of ordinary Americans' communications is the best way to guarantee that such blatantly illegal spying will not be authorized in the future," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Our lawsuit today should sound a clear warning to future occupants of the White House: if you break the law and violate Americans' privacy, there will be consequences."

EFF's complaint (PDF) is a rollicking good read and alleges these causes of action:

  • Violation of the Fourth Amendment
  • Violation of the First Amendment
  • Violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
  • Violation of 50 USC §1809 (unauthorized electronic surveillance under color of law)
  • Violation of 18 USC §2511 (intentional interception of electronic communication)
  • Violation of 18 USC §2703(a) and (b) (governmental requirement that provider turn over communications content by warrant only)
  • Violation of 18 USC §2703(c) (governmental requirement that provider turn over customer record by warrant, court order or customer consent only)
  • Violation of Administrative Procedures Act (government actions exceed limitations imposed by FISA)
  • Violation of Separation of Powers (exceeds president's power under Constitution, FISA, Wiretap Act, Stored Communications Act and Pen Register Act)

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