Group To Ask High Court To Stop Some NSA Spying Now: NYT

By: From CBS News (posted by Chris Fisher)
By: From CBS News (posted by Chris Fisher)

(CBS) A privacy rights group intends to use an emergency petition Monday to ask the Supreme Court to put the brakes on the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program that collects the telephone records of millions of Americans, according to The New York Times.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center is taking what the newspaper calls "the extraordinary legal step of going directly to the Supreme Court" because, the EPIC will contend, the phone records program has made for "exceptional circumstances" that only the nation's highest court can address.

According to the Times, the Washington-based EPIC "said it was taking its case to the Supreme Court because it could not challenge the legality of the N.S.A. program at the secret court that approved it, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, and because lower federal courts did not have the authority to review the secret court's orders."

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The suit is the latest in a series of legal challenges to the N.S.A.'s domestic spying operations that have been lodged since leaker Edward Snowden revealed the programs' existence.

The Times quotes EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg as saying his group's lawsuit would be the first to directly challenge the FISA's legal authority to OK the phone records' collection under the Patriot Act.

Alan Butler, a lawyer for the group, told the Time the judge "lacked the authority to require production of all domestic call detail records."

The newspaper notes that the latest "challenges come after the failure of a legal campaign against the N.S.A.'s domestic spying operations during the administration of President George W. Bush. A series of lawsuits were brought against an N.S.A. program of wiretapping without warrants soon after the existence of the program was revealed by The New York Times in December 2005."

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