ACLU asks judge to halt NSA surveillance - Fox 2 News Headlines

ACLU asks judge to halt NSA surveillance

Posted: Updated:

TOM HAYS | AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- The U.S. government's interpretation of its authority under the Patriot Act is so broad that it could justify mass collection of financial, health and even library records of innocent Americans without their knowledge, a civil liberties lawyer warned Friday at a hearing on a lawsuit challenging a federal phone-tracking program.

"If you accept the government's theory here, you are creating a dramatic expansion of the government's investigative power," Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union told a judge in federal court in Manhattan.

A government lawyer, Stuart Dellery, insisted that counterterrorism investigators wouldn't find most personal information useful. Analysis of phone records, however, has become an essential -- and legal -- tool to "find connections between known and unknown terrorists," he argued.

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley reserved decision on an ACLU request to halt the National Security Agency surveillance programs pending the outcome of its suit against the Obama administration.

The ACLU sued earlier this year after former NSA analyst Edward Snowden leaked details of the secret programs that critics say violate privacy rights. The NSA-run programs pick up millions of telephone and Internet records that are routed through American networks each day.

Intelligence officials say they have helped disrupt dozens of terrorist attacks, and target only foreign suspects outside the United States while taking close care not to look at the content of conversations or messages by American citizens.

The ACLU has asked Pauley to declare the program unconstitutional, arguing that it exceeds the congressional authority provided by the Patriot Act, which Congress passed after 9/11 and reauthorized in 2005 and 2010. President Barack Obama has defended the program and said privacy must be balanced with security.

On Friday, Jaffer argued that to protect innocent Americans' constitutional rights, the courts should require the collection of phone data to be much more narrow and focused.

"You don't need all call records in order to do what the government says it want to do," he said.

Dellery countered that the phone-record dragnet should be distinguished from ordinary forms of surveillance because it's designed to detect and disrupt ongoing terror plots.

"These investigations are different from ordinary criminal investigations," he said.

Pauley questioned Dellery about how much Congress knew about the phone-tracking programs when it voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act. He cited a brief filed on behalf of Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., that "vehemently disputes" that Congress intended to authorize the program challenged by the ACLU suit.

Dellery insisted that the program was spelled out to lawmakers before they voted. "The record establishes that oversight committees of both houses were briefed," he said.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Andy Golub's NYC Bodypainting Day

    Andy Golub's NYC Bodypainting Day

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:43 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:43:52 GMT
    The saying art is autobiographical takes on a whole new meaning when your canvas is a fully nude human body, as it is for artist Andy Golub. Andy along with 30 other artists and 45 Technicolor models paraded around several Manhattan hotspots over the weekend for NYC Body Painting day. Believe or not, this is completely legal in New York City.
    The saying art is autobiographical takes on a whole new meaning when your canvas is a fully nude human body, as it is for artist Andy Golub. Andy along with 30 other artists and 45 Technicolor models paraded around several Manhattan hotspots over the weekend for NYC Body Painting day. Believe or not, this is completely legal in New York City.
  • Protestors rally against NYPD's 'broken windows' policing

    Protestors rally against NYPD's 'broken windows' policing

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:07 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:07:39 GMT
    Emotions about police brutality were still raw at a protest in Harlem Wednesday night. Eric Garner died after police put him in an apparent choke hold. Cops stopped garner for the minor offense of selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island. Officers had been enforcing the so-called broken windows policy.
    Emotions about police brutality were still raw at a protest in Harlem Wednesday night. Eric Garner died after police put him in an apparent choke hold. Cops stopped garner for the minor offense of selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island. Officers had been enforcing the so-called broken windows policy.
  • Fatal skydiving accident on Long Island

    Fatal skydiving accident on Long Island

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:13 PM EDT2014-07-31 01:13:49 GMT
    Police on Long Island say one person has died and another has been seriously injured in a skydiving accident. Riverhead police say it happened at about 4 p.m. Wednesday at Skydive Long Island in Calverton. Police say the injured person was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital in critical condition.
    Police on Long Island say one person has died and another has been seriously injured in a skydiving accident. Riverhead police say it happened at about 4 p.m. Wednesday at Skydive Long Island in Calverton. Police say the injured person was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital in critical condition.
Powered by WorldNow

WJBK-TV | Fox 2
16550 West Nine Mile Rd.
Southfield, MI 48075

Main Station: (248) 557-2000
Newsroom: (248) 552-5103

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices