ACLU, Another Civil Liberties Narcissist, Defends Its Own Freedom of Assembly, Speech

Since the Edward Snowden leaks first started, many have called him and Glenn Greenwald narcissists (as if that changed the dragnet surveillance they exposed).

If that’s right, I can think of nothing more narcissistic than ACLU, which is a Verizon customer, suing the government for collecting their call records and chilling their ability to engage in activism.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a constitutional challenge to a surveillance program under which the National Security Agency vacuums up information about every phone call placed within, from, or to the United States. The lawsuit argues that the program violates the First Amendment rights of free speech and association as well as the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment. The complaint also charges that the dragnet program exceeds the authority that Congress provided through the Patriot Act.

“This dragnet program is surely one of the largest surveillance efforts ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens,” said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director. “It is the equivalent of requiring every American to file a daily report with the government of every location they visited, every person they talked to on the phone, the time of each call, and the length of every conversation. The program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy.”

Here’s the complaint.

In addition to this suit, Jeff Merkley and others are submitting a bill to force the government to release its secret law.

19 replies
  1. Garrett says:

    ACLU suing as a Verizon Business customer is certainly an interesting twist.

    Also: that was fast.

  2. Clark Hilldale says:

    Awesome that the only FISC order ever leaked happened to be for VBNS, and that ACLU and NYCLU happened to be VBNS customers.

    Standing in cases like this being so hard to come by these days.

  3. bsbafflesbrains says:

    Can ACLU possibly win when the “If you knew what I know” defense is used? Especially because I can’t tell you what I know..heh..heh and the fact that Obama is a good guy.

  4. Bittersweet says:

    I keep thinking of the democracy implications of this dragnet, and I have not seen as much attention to this as I would expect: if the NSA has every dirty little secret of every member of congress, how can they vote against NSA actions, or budgets? How can the government deny any existing security contractor any new billion dollar contract, when these same security corporations can easily access the politicians, dirty laundry? Or make up dirty laundry and plant it in the data?
    To me, this is the heroics of Snowden… that he exposes that he, as a low level consultant, could control the destiny of the congress! How, (I am talking to you Senator Feinstein!) is that treason, instead of great patriotism?

  5. bamage says:

    They sued for 1A and 4A violations. That’s just so… 18th Century. Everybody knows only the 2nd Amendment counts, nowadays.

  6. omphaloscepsis says:

    This whole subject needs a catchy name.

    A nomination — EPC, for e-Posse Comitatus.

    A 2005 Congressional Research Service report:

    “Following the Civil War . . . The Posse Comitatus Act was passed as part of an Army appropriations bill . . . With exception of a reference to the Air Force, it has remained essentially unchanged ever since, although Congress has authorized a substantial number of exceptions and has buttressed the Act with an additional proscription against use of the armed forces to make arrests or conduct searches and seizures. While the war against terrorism has led some to call for a reexamination of the role of the military in domestic law enforcement, Congress, in establishing the Department of Homeland Security, expressed its sense reaffirming the continued importance and applicability of the Posse Comitatus act. 6 U.S.C. para. 466.”

    “The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to ensure that any activity (including the provision of any equipment or facility or the assignment or detail of any personnel) under this chapter does not include or permit direct participation by a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps in a search, seizure, arrest, or other similar activity unless participation in such activity by such member is otherwise authorized by law.”

    More Posse Comitatus discussions:

  7. C says:

    This is interesting because in Clapper v. Amnesty the Supreme court ruled that they had no standing to sue because they couldn’t prove they had been spied upon. Now they can. Either the release was targeted with them in mind or it just so happens to be their sunny day.

  8. P J Evans says:

    It’s past time for her to retire. (I voted against her in the primary last year. I’ll do it again if she runs again.)

  9. JohnT says:

    Verizon’s secret rooms


    In 2006 Verizon constructed its “secret room” on the second floor of a nondescript two-story building at 14503 Luthe Road, in Houston, Texas. Once Verizon receives watch-listed names from the NSA, it then reroutes their Internet communications into that room, which is packed with secret Verint machines and software. After passing through the Verint software, the messages are then transmitted in real time to a central government surveillance hub in Sterling, Virginia. …


    While Verizon’s data network is centrally tapped at Luthe Road in Houston, it appears that the voice network is monitored from the company’s sprawling facility on Hidden Ridge Avenue in Irving, Texas, near Dallas. It is there that the company’s Global Security Operations Center keeps tabs on the entire Verzion system, looking for fraud. According to a sworn affidavit by Babak Pasdar, a computer security expert who has worked as a contractor for a number of major telecoms, he discovered a mysterious DS-3 line at the heart of one company’s system — a link labeled “Quantico Circuit.” His description of the company and the link seems to match that of Verizon as outlined in a lawsuit against the company.

  10. P J Evans says:

    I’d bet that all their stuff gets ‘routed’. It’s so much easier if you’re building up a picture of who’s talking to whom, and who’s a real dissident.

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