Plaintiffs in a series of lawsuits against the federal government over its spy-on-Americans programs are arguing for a contempt ruling against the Obama administration.
A motion filed in federal court in Washington by attorney Larry Klayman, who is one of the five named plaintiffs, requests an evidentiary hearing to “ascertain why the government and individual defendants have made material misrepresentations and material omissions of fact.”
Klayman’s case challenges the constitutionality of the NSA and CIA surveillance programs targeting American citizens who have no connection to terrorism. President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder also are defendants in the case.
Klayman said he is filing a variety of motions now that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to conduct an early review of the historic ruling by District Judge Richard Leon that enjoined the government from collecting data from hundreds of millions of Americans.
Leon ruled that the spy programs likely are unconstitutional.
The motion notes that while the government alleged that it stopped accessing and reading the Internet metadata of American citizens in 2011, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a March 28 letter, citing National Intelligence Director James Clapper, that the government is accessing not only Internet data content under the so-called PRISM program but also the Internet metadata.
“Thus, in order to deceive this court, plaintiffs and the American people, the government and individual defendants have been playing a shell-game,” the motion charges.
The government has falsely stated that it ceased accessing Internet metadata and other data, the brief asserts, but it’s now clear through Clapper’s admissions to Wyden “that they simply moved this unconstitutional metadata collection violation of the Fourth, First and First Amendment rights over to their continuing PRISM program.”
The brief charges “the defendants simply cannot be believed,” stating it’s “now documented fact that the defendants, by and through the Obama Justice Department, headed by Attorney General Eric Holder, have lied to this court.”
Klayman wanted to leapfrog a middle appellate level court and appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court for a quick resolution on the spy programs. But the high court passed the controversy back to Leon, declining to put the case on a fast track for review.
Leon stayed his ruling, but the motions now seek to have the stay lifted and the original ruling applied to the government.
Klayman, a former Justice Department prosecutor, said it’s important for the sake of the American people and the plaintiffs to resolve the case as soon as possible.
“Even one day more of these Orwellian violations of our constitutional rights is too much, as this illegal surveillance is a means for the government to coerce and enslave the populace into submission to the rule of establishment politicians of both political parties,” he said.
“For any one who challenges the authority of this ruling class is subject to being destroyed with the government’s use of the most private of information. Thus, the stakes are high and we intend to win this battle for all Americans.”
Leon’s decision deemed the collection of data from innocent Americans “almost Orwellian” and almost certainly a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Klayman also asked that the case be certified as a class action filing. He contended the victims includes “American citizens who are or have been subscribers, users, and/or consumers of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL, Sprint, AT&T, Apple, Microsoft, PalTalk, and other certain telecommunications and Internet service providers and have had their telephone calls, Internet activities, emails and/or any other communications made or received through said certain telecommunications and Internet service providers, collected, recorded and/or listened to by or on behalf of defendants.”
Klayman earlier noted that government defendants also were trying to claim that they had not been served with the lawsuit, even though they already had submitted some answers. He also blasted the defendants’ arguments that some information was classified.
“It seems that the government defendants conveniently forget that this court has a security clearance and that if indeed there are legitimate national security issues, the government defendants should have responded to the court with an in camera answer, in addition to the public one,” he wrote then.
He called the argument an “obvious subterfuge” and said the defendants are using it to withhold “vital information necessary for this case to move forward and are again showing a disrespect not just to this court, but the entire judicial system.”
Klayman brought his case to court late last year, challenging the NSA operations that detect and record data from telephone calls by Americans. In December, when Leon ruled the NSA’s mass collection of phone data was probably unconstitutional, the judge ordered the agency to stop collecting such data on Klayman and Charles Strange, the father of a Navy SEAL killed in action in Afghanistan.
Leon ruled that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, contains no language expressly barring any third-party challenges to FISA court orders. That meant that Klayman’s clients had standing to bring such a lawsuit and dispute the constitutionality of the NSA spying program, which the government disputes.
Klayman’s lawsuit was filed after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed a FISA court order that allowed the government, under a provision of the Patriot Act, to require Verizon to provide data on all calls made on its networks within the U.S. and between the U.S. and a foreign country.