The Department of Justice regards American citizens as “nothing more than rabble,” charges the attorney who won a legal challenge to the National Security Agency’s spy-on-Americans program called PRISM.
The DOJ moved Wednesday to block the plaintiffs in the case brought by attorney Larry Klayman, founder of FreedomWatch, against the NSA’s telephone call-tracking program.
In its motion filed with U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, who earlier issued an injunction against the spy program and called it “Orwellian,” the government is asking that the judge halt any further proceedings while an appeals court examines the ruling that said the government was violating the Constitution.
Klayman said the move wasn’t exactly a surprise in light of the government’s spying on Americans and its reluctance to provide information about the programs.
“This is a further attempt to keep information about the biggest violation of the Constitution in American history from the American people. It’s an outrage,” he said.
He said the Obama administration has the perspective of “heads I win, tails you lose,” and its attitude is: “We control all the information and the American people be damned. They don’t have rights.”
Klayman said he already had requested a status conference on the case, asking the court how to proceed with discovery in preparation for trial.
The government move reveals its true attitude, he said.
“It’s important for the American people to see how the government treats them and views them. We’re nothing more than rabble,” he said.
Politico reported on the government’s motion, which argued: “Further litigation of plaintiffs’ challenges to the conduct of these programs could well risk or require disclosure of highly sensitive information about the intelligence sources and methods involved – information that the government determined was not appropriate for declassification when it publicly disclosed certain facts about these programs.”
The information actually was disclosed when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the program.
The DOJ argued that if the litigation proceeds, “it will ultimately become necessary to conclusively determine, as a factual matter, whether plaintiffs have established their standing to challenge NSA’s alleged interception of the content of their communications, and collection of metadata about those communications.”
“Further litigation of this issue could risk or require disclosure of classified national security information, such as whether plaintiffs were the targets of or subject to NSA intelligence-gathering activities, confirmation or denial of the identities of the telecommunications service providers from which NSA has obtained information about individuals’ communications, and other classified information.”
But that’s exactly the point of his lawsuits, Klayman says: to find out the details of the programs and whether the government, in its alleged pursuit of information about terror activities, has been violating the constitutional assurances of Americans’ privacy.
The government is alarmed at that aim.
“Plaintiffs have indicated in their pleadings (and during argument on their motions for preliminary injunctions) that they intend to pursue discovery to obtain ‘full disclosure and a complete accounting’ of what the government defendants (and other defendants in these cases ‘have done [or been] allowed to do’ in connection with the challenged NSA intelligence programs; ‘identification of any and all ‘targets’ subject to defendants’ surveillance’ and production of ‘all other relevant reports, risk assessments, memoranda, and other documents,’” the government said.
But the Obama administration said it had to keep all that information secret or risk “exceptionally grave damage to national security.”
DOJ lawyers said they would oppose allowing Klayman or anyone else “access to classified information.”
The DOJ is asking Leon to halt proceeding while there are appeals of his ruling that the government likely is violating Fourth Amendment.
The government apparently doesn’t want to release any information, even if that’s the case.
“Even if the mere collection of information about plaintiffs’ communications constitutes a Fourth Amendment search … conclusively resolving the reasonableness of that search ultimately could risk or require disclosure of exceptionally sensitive and classified intelligence information regarding the nature and scope of the international terrorist threat to the United States, and the role that the NSA’s intelligence-gathering activities have played in meeting that threat,” government attorneys warn.
Josh Gerstein at Politico noted: “Klayman’s past litigation has been known for being as impactful and sometimes more impactful in the discovery phase, where lawyers demand documents and conduct depositions, as in its ultimate outcome. So, the government’s desire to head that process off for now, and perhaps entirely, is understandable.”
WND reported just days ago that several states are working on plans to resist the NSA operations, strategizing on ways to make the information unusable even if the NSA collects it.
According to the Tenth Amendment Center, lawmakers in Missouri are proposing to amend their state constitution. Their plan would add “and electronic communications and data” to the provision that provides privacy and security for residents.
If changed by voters, it would read: “That the people shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes [and], effects, and electronic communications and data, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and no warrant to search any place, or seize any person or thing, or access electronic data or communication, shall issue without describing the place to be searched, or the person or thing to be seized, or the data or communication to be accessed, as nearly as may be; nor without probable cause, supported by written oath or affirmation.”
The Joint Resolution, pending before the state Senate, proposes allowing Missouri voters to decide next November whether or not to amend their constitution.
According to the Tenth Amendment Center, federal judges and lawyers may squabble over the constitutionality of the NSA data-gathering, but lawmakers could make it impossible for any information obtained to be used in those states.
In Kansas, Rep. Brett Hildabrand, R-Shawnee, prefiled a bill that would “ban all state agencies and local governments in the state from possessing data ‘held by a third-party in a system of record’ and would prohibit any such information from being ‘subject to discovery, subpoena or other means of legal compulsion for its release to any person or entity or be admissible in evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding.’”
The access the data, under the bill, government would be required to obtain “express informed consent” or a warrant.
In Kansas, it’s called the Fourth Amendment Protection Act.
“I want to make sure that electronic privacy in Kansas is protected in the same way that physical letters in the mail are protected from random government searches,” Hildabrand told the center. “Each day, we hear a new revelation about how the NSA is violating our personal privacy. My bill will ensure the state of Kansas doesn’t utilize this illegally obtained data.”