[Ppnews] CCR suit over NSA spying

Political Prisoner News PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jan 18 15:29:28 EST 2006


Center for Constitutional Rights Believes 
Privileged Attorney-Client Communications
Were Intercepted by NSA Without Warrants Suit 
Seeks End to Warrantless Electronic Surveillance 
of Domestic Phone Calls and Emails

New York, January 17, 2005 – This morning, the 
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a 
lawsuit against President George W. Bush, the 
head of the National Security Agency (NSA), and 
the heads of the other major security agencies, 
challenging the NSA’s surveillance of persons 
within the United States without judicial 
approval or statutory authorization.  The suit 
seeks an injunction that would prohibit the 
government from conducting warrantless 
surveillance of communications in the U.S.  CCR 
filed the suit in the Federal District Court for 
the Southern District of New York on its own 
behalf and on behalf of CCR attorneys and legal 
staff representing clients who fit the criteria 
described by the Attorney General for targeting 
under the NSA Surveillance Program.

As has been widely reported, for over four years 
the NSA, with the approval of the president, has 
engaged in a program of widespread warrantless 
electronic surveillance of telephone calls and 
emails in violation of the Foreign Intelligence 
Surveillance Act (FISA).  The suit argues that 
the NSA Surveillance Program violates a clear 
criminal law, exceeds the president’s authority 
under Article II of the Constitution, and 
violates the First and Fourth Amendments.  The 
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act explicitly 
authorizes foreign intelligence electronic 
surveillance only upon orders issued by federal 
judges on a special court.  It expressly 
authorizes warrantless wiretapping only for the 
first fifteen days of a war, and makes it a crime 
to engage in wiretapping without specific 
statutory authority. Rather than seeking to amend 
this statute, the president simply violated it by 
authorizing warrantless wiretapping of Americans 
without statutory authority or court 
approval.  As a result, the President violated 
his oath of office to take care that the laws of 
this nation are faithfully executed, and instead 
secretly violated a criminal prohibition duly enacted by Congress.

CCR has been one of the most active opponents of 
the illegal detention, torture and intelligence 
gathering practices this administration 
instituted in the wake of the terrorist attacks 
of 9/11.  As part of its mission to fight 
violations of the Bill of Rights and the 
Constitution, the Center for Constitutional 
Rights represents hundreds of men detained 
indefinitely without charge as “enemy combatants” 
at Guantanamo Bay; Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen 
accused of al Qaeda ties and rendered from the 
United States to Syria for the purpose of being 
tortured; and Muslim immigrants unreasonably and 
wrongfully detained in the U.S. for months 
without probable cause or criminal charges in the wake of 9/11.

In the course of representing these clients, the 
Center’s lawyers have engaged in innumerable 
telephone calls and e-mails with people outside 
the United States, including their clients, their 
clients’ families and outside lawyers, potential 
witnesses, and others.  Given that the government 
has accused many of CCR’s overseas clients of 
being associated with Al Qaeda or of interest to 
the 9/11 investigation, there is little question 
that these attorneys have been subject to the NSA 
Surveillance Program.  The Center filed today’s 
lawsuit in order to protect CCR attorneys’ right 
to represent their clients free of unlawful and unchecked surveillance.

CCR Legal Director Bill Goodman said, “On this, 
the day following Martin Luther King Day, we are 
saddened that the illegal electronic surveillance 
that once targeted that great American has again 
become characteristic of our present 
government.  As was the case with Dr. King, this 
illegal activity is cloaked in the guise of 
national security.  In reality, it reflects an 
attempt by the Bush Administration to exercise 
unchecked power without the inconvenient 
interference of the other co-equal branches of government.”

According to CCR attorney Shayana Kadidal, “The 
mere existence of the program harms CCR and our 
attorneys because it serves to inhibit their 
ability to institute and effectively litigate these suits.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights is 
represented in the suit by CCR attorneys Bill 
Goodman, Shayana Kadidal, and Michael Ratner, and 
CCR cooperating attorney David Cole. Also 
appearing as an attorney for CCR, is Professor 
Michael Avery, president of the National Lawyers 
Guild (NLG), on behalf of the NLG.

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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