Two Lawsuits Filed
Against Verizon For Providing Telephone Records – Qwest Said Requests
From NSA Were Illegal - ACLU Fights Back
May 12th 2006
Both Congress and the American people are learning more about the
purpose of the Patriot Act. The use of electronic surveillance and
search warrants in national security investigations jumped 15% in 2005.
But it does not stop there.
In a report issued to Congress, members saw the first detailed use of a
controversial form of administrative subpoena that has drawn fire
because it can be issued by investigators without court oversight. The
Los Angeles Times reports that the Bush administration fought the
release of the information, but was unable to stop it after Congress
required the release when they reauthorized portions of the Patriot Act
Civil liberties groups are concerned that innocent people caught-up in
these probes might not be treated fairly. The report states that the
FBI issued 9,254 national security letters in 2005 covering 3,501 U.S.
citizens and legal residents.
According to the Justice Department, the data did not include thousands
of letters issued for more limited information, such as home addresses.
The data did not include people who were in the United States
But it gets worse. Experts believe the number probes have
increased substantially. The newspaper, USA Today, reported that the
NSA (National Security Agency) has compiled the largest database in the
world using telephone company records. USA Today says that this database
includes information on millions of Americans' everyday telephone calls.
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The only telecommunications firm that refused to provide the
information, Quest, said the request violated privacy laws and the
Telecommunications Act. According to USA Today, in the fall of 2001 the
NSA requested access to the phone records of Qwest customers. With
neither a warrant nor approval from a special court established to
handle surveillance matters, the NSA requests were denied.
Other telecommunications companies were quick to comply with the
requested phone records. AT&T Corp., Verizon Communications Inc. and
BellSouth Corp have all turned over customer records.
On Friday, two lawsuits were filed. According to USA Today, two New
Jersey public interest lawyers sued Verizon for $5 billion, claiming the
phone carrier violated privacy laws by turning over customer records.
One lawsuit asks the court to stop Verizon from supplying the
information without a warrant or the subscriber's consent.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says they “strongly condemned
the Bush administration’s most egregious abuse of power to date.” The
ACLU says that they have confirmed that the “agencies working to combat
terrorism are targeting innocent citizens or other lawful residents.”
“Once again, it is clear that the president and the attorney general
have lied to the American people,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony
D. Romero. “The NSA spying program is not only focused on terrorists or
international calls. The government is clearly tracking the calls and
communications of millions of ordinary Americans and that's just plain
wrong. This news serves only as further proof of how far we have slid
into an abuse of power that undercuts the values Americans hold dear.”
Romero added “We can no longer accept hollow, government assurances
while they stubbornly refuse to answer questions about the NSA
operations. These latest revelations should serve as further proof that
this administration does not have satisfactory answers to these vital
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