AP - AP CLIENTS ONLY
New York City - 11 June 2013
1. SOUNDBITE (English) Alex Abdo, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:
"Last week the Guardian disclosed perhaps the most sweeping surveillance program that has ever been publicly disclosed and is an extraordinarily troubling one in which the government is claiming the authority to sweep up millions of Americans call records without any reason to believe anyone of them is suspected of wrong doing or part of a terrorism investigation so we filed suit this week to put an end to that program and specifically to assert the constitutional rights of the ACLU and others who've had there call records snatched up in this dragnet program."
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Alex Abdo, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:
"Government is using this program to collect information about who we call, who calls us, how long we talk, when we talk and perhaps even where we are calling from, that information is extremely sensitive and it can reveal things about your political affiliations, your religious association, your infidelity and your intimate relationships. The information is incredible sensitive and one way of understanding that very clearly is to ask why the government wants it. Its precisely because that information has such value."
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Alex Abdo, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:
"Well say what you will about the excesses of the patriot act, but the particular provisions they are relying on here is supposed to limited to picking up information from telecommunication providers that is relevant to an investigation the government is undertaking. In this case the government is using that authority to pick up communications that are not just relevant to an investigation but all communications on the theory that they can collect everything now and ask questions later and that is simply not what the law allows, it's not what our constitution allows and it is fundamentally inconsistent with our American values."
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Alex Abdo, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:
"The suggestion that we shouldn't be worried because we've done nothing wrong is cold comfort to those whose call records end up in Government data bases where they could remain for who knows how long. The simple fact of the matter is the government shouldn't be collecting this information in the first place unless it is relevant to one of their investigations and so how associated with their terrorism investigations and their responsibilities to keep the government safe. But there is simply no argument the government has that to keep the government safe it needs to collect millions of communications of innocent Americans."
Two prominent civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency over its program that reportedly collects the telephone records of millions of American customers of Verizon.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union say in a lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday that the program violates First Amendment rights of free speech and association. It also alleges the program violates Fourth Amendment rights to privacy.
The lawsuit additionally alleges the government's program exceeds Congress' authority.
ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer says the program is the same as requiring Americans to give the government a "daily report" of their activities and conversations.
President Barack Obama has defended the program and says privacy must be balanced with security.