By Adam Sege
September 22, 2015
Plaintiffs suing the U.S. government over the bulk collection of telephone data asked again Monday for a preliminary injunction to stop the National Security Agency from collecting the information, arguing only a court order could prevent the government’s continued widespread surveillance.
In a motion in Washington, D.C., federal court, lead plaintiff Larry Klayman said his amended complaint addressed an issue of standing raised by the D.C. Circuit, which in August reversed the district court’s 2013 order granting him a preliminary injunction. Klayman asked U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon to grant another injunction and warned that a law calling for a Nov. 29 end to widespread metadata collection may not be enough to stop the practice.
“Neither this court nor the public can be confident that without a preliminary injunction the surveillance will not continue or be restarted covertly and hidden from sight and accountability in the future,” Klayman wrote.
The motion follows Klayman’s Sept. 8 filing of a fourth amended complaint, which he said addressed the D.C. Circuit’s conclusion, in its reversal of the initial injunction, that he did not know whether his own information had been collected. The fourth amended complaint includes as plaintiffs customers of Verizon Business Network Services, which provided metadata on all its customers to the government through a surveillance program revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Klayman, who leads the advocacy group Freedom Watch, asked again for a preliminary injunction requiring the NSA and the U.S. Department of Justice to follow the Fourth Amendment in their collection of phone data.
“Put simply, the government defendants ironically can be no more trusted to obey and adhere to the strictures of the U.S. Constitution and the law than the mullahs in Tehran to obey the Iranian nuclear treaty,” he wrote.
Klayman also requested an injunction requiring the government to keep records relating to information collected about Klayman and his co-plaintiffs.
Prompted by Snowden’s unauthorized release of information about metadata collection, the government has acknowledged the NSA received bulk metadata from Verizon Business Network Services, a bundler of phone and Internet services for small businesses.
It has not confirmed reports that it obtained similar troves from AT&T and possibly other providers, but officials have said the NSA will stop collecting metadata on a widespread basis, a practice carried out under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, after Nov. 29.
In a status conference earlier this month, Rodney Patton of the DOJ told Judge Leon the Nov. 29 sunset, which was called for in this year’s USA Freedom Act, would make the preliminary injunction moot.
Klayman disagreed in his motion, asserting that because “this campaign of spying on its own citizens” predated Section 215, the sunset of the program did not reduce the importance of an injunction.
“The mere expiration of Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act is not sufficient to protect the constitutional rights of plaintiffs and millions of American citizens,” he wrote.
Klayman is representing himself and the other plaintiffs.
The U.S. is represented by Benjamin C. Mizer, Douglas N. Letter, H. Thomas Byron III and Henry C. Whitaker.
The cases are Klayman v. Obama et al., case number 1:13-cv-00851, and Klayman et al. v. Obama et al., case number 1:13-cv-00881, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
For more information, contact Freedom Watch at (424) 274-2579 or email@example.com