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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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Torak January 01 2014 at 2:26 AM

Well you have fun with that ACLU. If your lawsuit goes anywhere, bravo. If not then oh well.

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Diane December 31 2013 at 11:14 AM

HUFF is next - ACLU needs to sue HUFF for invasion of privacy over this whole 'give us your facebook info if you want to leave any comments' BS

'keep it civil' ...what a crock...

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2 replies
rickahight Diane December 31 2013 at 11:28 AM

Excellent comment! AOL probably doesn't want to loose the revenue however large number of AOL users are leaving.

The lack of civility was on the leftist side. If you read the comments, the left can dish it out but not take it.

AOL and HPost are turning the entire site in to a liberal lickfest just like Huff was before beign bought by TimeWarner.

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1 reply
milazzoguy rickahight December 31 2013 at 12:06 PM

Ahh no...it wasn't confined to the left or right. It was both and getting uglier by the minute. You and others regardless of your political point of view, are not constrained from commenting as long as your comments aren't unsupported by factual information or they don't include the name calling that leads to problems. See like unnecessary comments like "liberal lickfest." We need to stop this sort of nonsense and start listening to one another and turn our collective angst at those who perpetuate this garbage. Examine, if you will, who profits from all the fighting that occurs between the average American. Follow that thought back to its source. I doubt you'd be surprised. But really, let's try to be civil to one another. Nothing is ever accomplished from name calling and arguing. Nothing!

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posthuf Diane December 31 2013 at 11:38 AM


The only reason they could possible have for that and wanting contact numbers is so they can publish them like they did the names and addresses of those who donated to anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage organizations.

If huffpoo ever believed in free speech it would only be the free speech that they want to hear and allow to be read. It's all about CONTROL!

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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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HELLO SHELDON December 31 2013 at 5:26 PM


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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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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
bh164 January 01 2014 at 1:47 AM

the use of private companies to do the snooping and then throwing your hands up and say it wasn't me afterwards is simply wrong.... and, the constitution prohits that by being an agent for the police there will be no further attacks if u simply enforce the laws on the books ... this is simplyy am overreach of the government and it has to be curbed at all costs

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rgkarasiewicz December 31 2013 at 9:51 AM

This unwarranted eavesdropping on the American public violates their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.

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2 replies
Vimala Nowlis rgkarasiewicz December 31 2013 at 10:19 AM

That's why FBI and NSA could not stop the Boston Marathon bombing even though the Russians have tipped the Americans off about the terrorist brothers. Because they are "American citizens", they are entitled to their privacy and FBI and NSA did not yet have enough information about them to arrest them. Thanks to the Russian tip, the police found these terrorist brothers quickly and stopped them from going to NYC with more bombs in their car.
So, hurray for the 4th Amendment, and to hell with victims and public safety!

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1 reply
Ken Vimala Nowlis December 31 2013 at 10:51 AM

its called probable cause . read it please.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

in other words if you have SPECIFIC information about a person or event of a crime that has been or is clearly going to be committed - and you have evidence, and get a judge to affirm this is valid, and get a warrant to that end, you can go and make appropriate action, such as arrest, etc.
the problem arises when we go after people without any cause of specific evidence of wrongdoing and arrest or spy on them before such reasonable probable cause can be established. i.e. you are, under the constitution, (and common sense) innocent until proven guilty. when you take away this protection as is the case more and more in this country, you are eroding the idea of presumed innocence, which was NOT to protect the guilty criminals or "terrorists" -- the law is there to PROTECT THOSE WHO ARE ACTUALLY INNOCENT. you and me, etc. However, this new approach of sweeping surveillance and lack of due process harms the innocent and is not effective in stopping those who would be guilty. please think about it.

...why is America so ignorant to its own constitution???

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jsmaloney1 rgkarasiewicz December 31 2013 at 10:59 AM

Hey D-- --- --- A-- -- --, The intelligence gathered has kept us safe! what differance does it make if someone monitors your emails or conversations, if you did nothing wrong, how has it hurt you or anyone. Grow up, take responsibility and serve in the Military for 20 plus years and tell me we do not need to protect America by any means possible. I am so happy to see that you D-- -- -- A ------- are in the minority from the posting I have seen.

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1 reply
somdwill jsmaloney1 December 31 2013 at 11:09 AM

You were in the military? And we're the dumbasses?

What parts of freedom and associated risks don't you understand?

What parts of the constitution are you confused about?

You can't be 100% free and 100% safe.. You can erode your guaranteed freedoms and perceive to be safer, OR you can DEMAND your freedoms and your rights, and take responsibility for your own safety.
Or you can be as safe as an animal in a cage, and just as free.

What do we so, where do we go, when the US no longer guarantees us our rights, or our freedoms? Where else can we go to be the "Land of the Free?" This is it, the last bastion. When it's gone here it ceases to exist.

And you're a veteran? Well, your moronic statements do more harm to the country that you took an oath to defend than anything any terrorist has done. You ask us to willingly subugate our freedoms and our rights?? REALLY? What are you a veteran of exactly?

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srmr0319 December 31 2013 at 1:49 PM

The height of hypocrisy; the government enacts privacy laws which they themselves do not obey and then they want to know why most Americans neither trust nor respect the governement anymore.

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2 replies
d.carns srmr0319 December 31 2013 at 2:36 PM

Especially Obama

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fmuddywaters srmr0319 December 31 2013 at 3:09 PM

We should not keep this as a topic, and enjoy the rest of our time on our planet. because it won't matter,Thanks,,

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