Conservative activist files lawsuit over NSA surveillance

Collection of telephone records violates the US Constitution, the founder of Freedom Watch says

A conservative activist has filed a lawsuit against U.S. President Barack Obama, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. National Security Agency after news reports that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of a large number of Verizon Communications customers.

Larry Klayman, the founder of watchdog websites Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch and a former DOJ prosecutor, filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, he said in a statement on the Freedom Watch site.

Klayman's lawsuit comes two days after the Guardian newspaper reported that the NSA is collecting phone records from Verizon and other telecom companies and a day after the Guardian and the Washington Post reported that the NSA and the FBI also have access to servers at Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other major providers of Internet services, collecting audio, video, email and other content for surveillance.

Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, NSA Director Keith Alexander, Verizon, and Roger Vinson, the judge who signed the order allowing the surveillance.

"Here, there is no doubt that this massive illegal seizure had to be authorized and approved at the highest levels of the executive branch, which necessarily leads to the president, attorney general and the director of the NSA," Klayman said in the website. "These violations of free speech, prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure, and due process rights are unprecedented in American history."

The surveillance violates the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, Klayman alleged.

The programs raise questions about the independence of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approved the collection of phone records, he added.

"It would appear that Obama and his government yes men know no constitutional bounds, and the courts are no longer independent such that they will protect American citizens from this tyranny," he said.

Obama defended the programs during a press conference in California, saying they are a valuable tool in fighting terrorism. Congress has approved the surveillance programs, and there's constant oversight by courts, he said. The lawmakers and judges who've approved the programs "cherish the Constitution," he said.

The NSA programs reported on this week represent a "modest encroachment" on privacy rights, he said.

Obama said he welcomes a national debate about NSA eavesdropping. The U.S. needs to "strike a balance" between privacy and security, he said. "I think it's important that the American people understand that there are some tradeoffs involved," he said.

Obama, when running for president in 2008, criticized surveillance programs under then-President George Bush. The U.S. public shouldn't have to choose between security and privacy, Obama said then.

Representatives of the DOJ and Verizon didn't immediately respond to requests for comments on the lawsuit.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags U.S. Federal Bureau of InvestigationRoger VinsonU.S. District Court for the District of ColumbiaCivil lawsuitsU.S. National Security AgencyEric HolderFreedom WatchBarack ObamaprivacyJudicial WatchLarry Klaymangeorge bushFacebookGoogleMicrosoftsecuritylegalgovernmentU.S. Department of JusticeKeith Alexander

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?