The battle against the National Security Agency’s monitoring of citizens’ telephone-call data surged to a new level today with a report from The Hill that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will be filing a class-action lawsuit against the NSA after recruiting thousands of people to be plaintiffs.
The news follows last month’s favorable ruling in a class-action legal challenge to NSA spy operations by attorney Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch. In that case the federal judge said the spy program is likely unconstitutional. The Obama administration has file an appeal.
Although Paul has talked about his plans for several weeks, it was Breitbart News that reported today the action would come soon.
The action is to be brought by Paul as a citizen, not as a senator, and apparently will charge that the surveillance program the NSA uses to gather metadata on U.S. citizens violates the Fourth Amendment.
The senator’s campaign website was used to recruit names, a move set up after Paul suggested months ago he could force the government to change its strategies if he could get 10 million Americans to protest.
In a commentary for WND, Klayman welcomed Paul’s influence to the fight.
“I invite Sen. Paul to join our ongoing class actions, as they have already proven to be successful in large part – given Judge Leon’s unconstitutionality ruling. The other plaintiffs and I are pleased that Paul also is fighting to slay the NSA express,” Klayman wrote.
“The bottom line is this: I am pleased that the force of our legal actions with regard to the NSA and this huge violation of constitutional rights has finally caused many in the nation to take heed of the strength of our cases. For what is now occurring with this spy agency, and others like the CIA, cannot stand. We the people cannot allow a tyrannical government to run roughshod over our Fourth, First and Fifth Amendment constitutional rights. Our Founding Fathers risked their fortunes and lives to win freedom. We owe it to them to take whatever legal steps we must to preserve this freedom for ourselves, our loved ones, and the country as a whole.”
It was Judge Richard J. Leon, in two class-action cases that Klayman filed last June, who ruled against the NSA.
“I hereby give the government fair notice that should my ruling be upheld, this order will go into effect forthwith,” the judge wrote. “Accordingly, I fully expect that during the appellate process, which will consume at least the next six months, the government will take whatever steps necessary to prepare itself to comply with this order when, and if, it is upheld. Suffice it to say, requesting further time to comply with this order months from now will not be well received and could result in collateral sanctions.”
He said the practice likely is unconstitutional, calling it “Orwellian.”
Today, after being prompted by Klayman, the federal government filed a notice of appeal of the case.
Klayman had written to Leon asking for a status conference, saying “it appears that the Obama Justice Department is hanging back to delay implementation of the court’s preliminary injunction order – as it likely intends to ‘stretch’ out the appellate process.”
He had argued that it would be prudent to discuss “the procedure and timing for this case to move forward through discovery while the NSA defendant pursues any appeal of the court’s stayed preliminary injunction order.”
In a separate strategy move, the Obama administration also went to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a special court that oversees secret government operations, and obtained permission for the NSA to “keep collecting every American’s telephone records every day,” despite the ruling in Klayman’s case.
Klayman told WND the special court “jumps at the Obama administration’s requests” and is “a national disgrace.”
He said he will fight the ongoing collection however he can.
“It’s why the American people, frankly, are in a state of revolution,” he said.
After Leon’s decision in Klayman’s case, District Judge William Pauley in Washington said in a separate case, brought by the ACLU, he thinks the NSA program is legal, setting up the type of conflict that frequently needs to be resolved by a superior court.
At the time, Klayman said: “What’s most dangerous about what is going on is the fact that every time someone picks up their phone, or sends an email, or goes to social media like Facebook, or uses Skype, they now know that the government is watching. And this keeps us from being critical of the government. … And that’s not just un-American, it’s like the former Soviet Union or China.”
He continued: “If our Founding Fathers had lived in these times, and if King George III had had an NSA with that kind of technological capability, the Founding Fathers would have been picked up, arrested and executed before they ever got to Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence.
“We live in what the judge said, and I used the term, too, when I appeared in front of him, an Orwellian state.”
Klayman said the fight is about more than just government spying.
“Unfortunately, the current government no longer represents the people of this country. Judge Pauley is rubberstamping total government power. The reality is that the legislative and executive branches of government created this constitutional crisis with the NSA which is now spiraling out of control. Judge Leon rightfully called the NSA’s program ‘almost-Orwellian technology.’”
Klayman said: “Legitimate spying on terrorism does not trump respecting the civil liberties and freedom of the American people, as Judge Pauley ruled on page 52 of his decision. The rights of the American people consistent with our Constitution cannot be left at the hands of the other two branches. This is a formula for revolution as the government should not have an absolute right to intercept everything.”