ACLU Affiliates to go after state regulators on NSA spying Program by Mitch E. Perry05/24/06
The ACLU announced today that affiliates in 20 states are filing complaints with state agencies regarding recent reports that the National Security Agency has access to millions of Americans telephone records.
That announcement was made today in a nationwide conference call held by the civil liberties group. Anthony Romero is Executive Director of the ACLU (roll tape#1 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?what set of circumstancesÃ¢â‚¬?)
The ACLU says they are reacting to the 2 major news stories that have been published in the past 5 months about domestic surveillance.
The first was by the New York Times last December,that reported on the warrentless domestic surveillance program. The 2nd was the USA TODAY report that the NSA secretly collected call records with the help of 3 telephone companies- AT&T, Verizon, and Bell South. (roll tape#2 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?American HistoryÃ¢â‚¬?)
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLUÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Technology and Liberty Project. He says that IF press reports are correct (roll tape#3 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?the possibility hereÃ¢â‚¬?)
On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission declined to investigate the NSA, citing secrecy laws.
Howard Simon is Executive Director with the Florida ACLU. He said his group has filed a complaint and request for information for several telecommunications with the Florida Public Service Commission. Simon says that on the face of it, the telephone companies named in the USA Today report have broken Florida law (roll tape#4 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?legal processÃ¢â‚¬?)
Other states filing complaints to state agencies include Massachusetts, which is filing 2 separate actions with their local Telecommunications and Energy Department. One of these complaints is on behalf of 4 different MayorsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
One of those is Michael Bissonette,.from the city of Chicopee, Massachusetts (roll tape#5 O.q. Ã¢â‚¬Å“OrwellÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 1984Ã¢â‚¬?)
The ACLU affiliates actions in their states is the 2nd move the organization has done in response to the initial NSA spying reports.
The group filed a lawsuit back in January, suing the NSA on behalf of several citizens, including writers Christopher Hitchens And James Bamford, who has written several books about the NSA.
Previously, both the government and the phone companies have used national security and State Secret laws as a means to NOT having such surveillance investigated. The ACLUÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Barry Steinhardt says that legal defense needs to be attacked (roll tape6 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?battle needs to be joinedÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Thank youÃ¢â‚¬?)
Verizon and Bell South released statements last week denying they provided the NSA with call information. A Verizon statement said the companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s statement did NOT include MCI, the long Ã¢â‚¬â€œdistance company that Verizon acquired in January.
For more information you can go to aclufl.org