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ACLU Sues for Details of U.S. Surveillance

ACLU Sues NSA For Details Of U.S. Surveillance Under Executive Order

(Reuters) - The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Monday, seeking to force the U.S. government to disclose details of its foreign electronic surveillance program and what protections it provides to Americans whose communications are swept up.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, came three days after the ACLU lost a bid to block a separate program that collects the phone calls of millions of Americans.

The latest lawsuit seeks information related to the use of Executive Order 12333, which was signed in 1981 and governs surveillance of foreign targets.

Under the order, the National Security Administration is collecting "vast quantities" of data globally under the order's authority, "inevitably" including communications of U.S. citizens, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit cites "recent revelations," an apparent reference to reports about U.S. spying activities in the wake of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"This FOIA request seeks, in part, to determine what protections are afforded to those U.S. persons and whether those protections are consistent with the Constitution," it said.

A Justice Department spokesman said the government would respond to the lawsuit in court.

The lawsuit follows a series of requests to U.S. agencies for the information under the Freedom of Information Act that it said have not resulted in substantive responses.

Alex Abdo, an ACLU staff attorney, said in a blog post that the government was using the order as a way to spy on U.S. citizens' international communications.

NSA Surveillance Protest

"The core of the problem is that the NSA has, for years, relied upon its authority to gather foreign intelligence as permission to conduct sweeping surveillance of Americans' international communications," Abdo wrote.

The lawsuit cites news reports indicating that under the order, the NSA is collecting data on cell phone locations and email contact lists, as well as information from Google Inc and Yahoo Inc user accounts.

Among the records sought by the ACLU are any construing or interpreting the scope of agencies' authority under the executive order.

It also seeks records describing minimization procedures used by the agencies related to intelligence collection and interpretation pursuant to the order.

The lawsuit names as defendants the NSA, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Department, Justice Department and State Department.

The case is American Civil Liberties Union et al v. National Security Agency et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-9198.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler and Ken Wills)

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knute9 December 31 2013 at 7:21 AM

When a democratically elected government begins spying on their own citizens it's a serious problem.

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4 replies
sgentilejr December 31 2013 at 7:29 AM

ALL, I repeat ALL (what part of ALL don't you understand?) of your personal information that goes over the internet and through the telephone lines and cell phones is being collected for the Government by 12 "Private firms" under contract with the government. PRIVATE firm employees (like Eric Snowden) have all of your passwords. All of you account numbers, ALL of your pin numbers. All of your credit card numbers, all of your brokerage account numbers. The question is Do you trust the thousands of private contractors employees who are gathering this information for the government not to misuse the banking and credit card and financial data they have collected??? ID Theft is the Fastest growing crime in the USA. How many of those contractors employees are using or selling all of your personal information to enrich themselves???? Where the people who hacked Targets working for NSA under contract???? They collect EVERYTHING that gets sent over the airwaves and phone lines. They are gathering EVERYTHING and that includes EVER credit card transaction in stores and that are sent over the internet and over phone lines and through cell phones. Is your information safe in the hands of Private Contractors????? The Government though their private information was safe in contractor employee Eric Snowdens hands and we all see how well that worked out.

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1 reply
francismarion1780 sgentilejr December 31 2013 at 7:42 AM

The NSA is collecting meta data...e.g. data about data...who you called and who called you...they are looking for terrorists...when they find them they go to judge, present them their evidence and a judge gives them a subpoena to take further action...I rarely agree with this President but in this case I agree...I am concerned we are slipping into a Pre-911 mentality and will be hit again, perhaps with a small nuke next time.

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1 reply
onemadashell francismarion1780 December 31 2013 at 8:55 AM

if you believe that you really need the gov. to watch you and make sure you dont hurt yourself.

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Shirley December 31 2013 at 9:58 PM

Perfect idea...don't know which is worse, ACLU or the government.

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mid10s December 31 2013 at 7:32 AM

I'm not a big fan of the ACLU but in this case, thanks for speaking up for all of us little people who are powerless against a government that made a mistake but is too worried about thier image to correct the mistake>

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sgentilejr December 31 2013 at 7:35 AM

Our US Constitution is Very Clear. It states that when Government no longer serves We the People it is time to eliminate it and form a new government.

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1 reply
csvassallo sgentilejr December 31 2013 at 7:52 AM

Government against the people is on. They tell us that if they were not intercepting phone conversations, our government would not be able to deter attacks against the USA. I am not doing anything to cause my conversations to be monetered by my government. This is nothing more than BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!! The time has arrived. Next thing our govt. will tell me to spy on my neighbors.

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tomkota December 31 2013 at 5:56 PM


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mcwhomper December 31 2013 at 9:50 PM

all i can say is that if a politician's illegal dealings was caught on one of those sweeps i'ld bet they would find that it was illegal for them to gather that information/

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dollibug December 31 2013 at 1:44 PM

It seems that the Media wants to *CONTROL* what they share with the public....I guess this is also what the government is doing as well. I ended up being *restricted from Huff Post* when I reached 5000 plus comments.....WHAT IT SOMETHING I POSTED????????? Nope, it seems like they wanted me to give them a *MOBILE TELEPHONE NUMBER*.....so I could be *VERIFIED*....It does NOT matter that I don't have one, NOR DO I PLAN TO GET ONE OR GIVE THE INFO OUT*
http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1069633 I did an Ireport on CNN and was surprised they did NOT restrict it as well.

Little by little, bit by bit.....OUR U.S. Constitutional Rights are being taken from us...EVERYONE NEEDS TO STAND UP AND HAVE A VOICE IN WHAT IS GOING ON*******WILL SOMEONE LISTEN????????????????????????? Not so sure. CORRUPTION AND COVER UP IS ALIVE AND KICKING ALL OVER OUR COUNTRY, ACTUALLY ALL OVER THE WORLD.

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4 replies
sandrakaywinter December 31 2013 at 6:31 PM

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

What the man said so long ago still holds true today. The thing is that we must find a way to work this together with a fast-changing enemy bent on our destruction.

People bought into the Patriot Act to obtain some "temporary safety." They gave up things because they were scared, and those that promoted the act knew this. And, the NSA program has been in effect and going strong for the last decade. There is nothing new here. People started talking about it again because a contractor sought fifteen minutes and made the private, public as his vehicle to obtain that. Some cheer him on, others cry against him. But, the thing is, this is nothing new.

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madddddddddddddd December 31 2013 at 6:30 PM

this seems silly to me

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