Bid for Delay Draws Ire in NSA Wiretapping Case

     (CN) – Citizens trying to dismantle the NSA’s wiretapping program denounced the government’s motion for a stay as the “latest attempt to delay public scrutiny, judicial oversight, and justice.”
     The National Security Administration (NSA) had asked a San Francisco federal judge on June 7, 2013, to defer ruling on cross-motions for summary judgment in the 7-year-old case challenging an NSA wiretapping program.
     The government said that it needed time to consider its position in light of a recent revelation by The Guardian that the NSA had forced Verizon to hand over “all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata'” of U.S. customers placing international domestic and local calls.
     “In light of these developments, the government defendants request that the court defer further consideration of the pending motions and grant the government time to consider the effect on the pending motions of the government’s decision to declassify certain information, and to consult with plaintiffs concerning the matter,” the motion stated .
     The plaintiffs, a class of phone service customers led by Carolyn Jewel, claim that the NSA’s implementation of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, signed into law after the Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks, violates the Constitution and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
     In their opposition to the government’s request for a stay Friday, the plaintiffs slammed the maneuver as one that seeks to avoid judicial review.
     “For over seven years during the pendency of this case, the government has engaged in a massive, indiscriminate domestic spying dragnet, sucking in billions of telephone and internet communications of ordinary Americans,” the motion states. “Not just metadata, but Americans’ actual ‘communications on fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past’ – their phone calls and email. The government used every possible tactic to delay this case, filing state secrets motions to dismiss not once, not twice, but now three times. Even as it violated the law for seven years, the government successfully prevented any court review of this breathtaking scheme.” (Italics in original.)
     The median time in the Northern District of California from filing to close of a case is 6.4 months, but this case has not even approached resolution after 84.9 months of litigation, the plaintiffs said.
     “President Obama stated he ‘welcome[s] this debate’ about NSA surveillance of millions of Americans,” they added. “The place to debate the legality and constitutionality of government action is here, in a court of law. If the president truly welcomes the debate, the president’s Justice Department should no longer obstruct this case. It should no longer obstruct legal review of the NSA’s conduct. It should not assert alleged ‘state secrets’ featured on the covers of hundreds of newspapers around the world. The government’s latest attempt to delay public scrutiny, judicial oversight, and justice should be soundly rejected.” (Italics in original.)
     Ilann Maazel with Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady in Manhattan signed the motion.

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