Remember when the Electronic Frontier Foundation discovered that the NSA had been wiretapping the entire Internet, illegally, with collaboration from the nation's phone companies? Remember when they sued the phone companies in order to discover the full extent of this illegal, warrantless domestic spying?
Remember when Congress — including both presidential candidates — voted to give the phone companies immunity from prosecution, even though they had clearly broken the law, on the grounds that the president had asked them to? (If the president asked you to shoot someone, would Congress let you off the hook, too?)
Well now EFF is suing to have the immunity — the unconstitutional immunity — overturned. Go EFF!
"The immunity law puts the fox in charge of the hen house, letting the Attorney General decide whether or not telecoms like AT&T can be sued for participating in the government's illegal warrantless surveillance," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "In our constitutional system, it is the judiciary's role as a co-equal branch of government to determine the scope of the surveillance and rule on whether it is legal, not the executive's. The Attorney General should not be allowed to unconstitutionally play judge and jury in these cases, which affect the privacy of millions of Americans."
In the public version of his certification to the court, Attorney General Mukasey asserted that the government had no "content-dragnet" program that searched for keywords in the body of communications. However, the government did not deny the dragnet acquisition of the content of communications. In support of its opposition, EFF provided the court with a summary of thousands of pages of documents demonstrating the broad dragnet surveillance of millions of innocent Americans' communications. Eight volumes of exhibits accompanied the detailed summary, including eyewitness accounts and testimony under oath.
"We have overwhelming record evidence that the domestic spying program is operating far outside the bounds of the law," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Intelligence agencies, telecoms, and the Administration want to sweep this case under the rug, but the Constitution won't permit it."