The Government Isn't Above the Law

Or at least it shouldn't be. Today we filed an appeal of our lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), the law passed last summer that essentially legalized former President Bush's warrantless wiretapping of Americans' international phone calls and emails. In August, U.S. District Court Judge John G. Koeltl for the Southern District of New York dismissed our case on "standing" grounds, ruling that the plaintiffs — among them journalists, lawyers and nongovernmental organizations who engage in sensitive international communication which they have reason to fear will be intercepted by the government — did not have the right to challenge the new surveillance law because they could not prove that their own communications had been monitored under it.

But here's the rub: the government conducts surveillance under the statute in secret, and it's not obligated to notify the people it has monitored. So it's possible no one could ever show with any certainty that they've been monitored. As Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU's National Security Program, points out in a statement today:

To say that plaintiffs can't challenge this statute unless they can show that their own communications have been collected under it is to say that this statute may not be subject to judicial review at all. The vast majority of people whose communications are intercepted under this statute will never know about it — in fact, it's possible that no one will ever be able to prove what the court says is required.

So there you have it: if no one can prove they've been spied on, then no one can challenge the law. That gives the executive branch unchecked power, and makes the FAA above judicial scrutiny. That's unconstitutional.


Add a comment (16)
Read the Terms of Use

William W Haywood

Totally unconstitutional! This amendment, FISA,is being shoved down the throats of the American people. It is so stupid to say that you can be spied upon by the government, in secret, but you cannot complain about the spying unless you know about it. HUH? How can you know about something that is happening secretly? But, NO, I have to prove in a court of law that I was spied upon...F*****g impossible!
I thought that President Obama was going to close GITMO, instead it seems that they have just expanded the boundaries that held gitmo to encompass the whole!
Bring it on!

maria ramos


maria ramos


Joe keegan

Even if you can prove that you're being spied on, they don't let you challenge them. The FBI expanded its position that you can't sue them for surveillance to include all law enforcement. It's the new model for our surveillance state. For example, three electronic surveillance experts verified hi-tech "bugs" mounted on the utility poles located on private property at my residence. When state law enforcement officials not only failed to take any actions, but also attempted to conceal this criminal misconduct, I went to the FBI. After the Jacksonville, FL, Agent In Charge refused to even acknowledge my complaint, I wrote a letter to FBI Director Mueller and included evidence of my charges. When the Director didn't reply, I filed FOIPA's with the FBI/DOJ, as well as their respective IG's. The FBI denied receiving my complaint and evidence, although FBI personnel signed for it. And the IG's denied receiving my complaints of employee misconduct.

On the suggestion of FL Assistant Attorney General Joslyn Wilson, I wrote FL Gov. Charlie Crist as the new Florida 14th Judicial District State Attorney Glenn Hess wouldn't even acknowledge my charges and evidence. Moreover, he wouldn't even acknowledge my FL Public Records Request seeking all the documents pertaining to my complaint that I filed with him.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush earlier suggested that I bring evidence of my charges to my State Attorney, so I did, including documents and videotape. However, then State Attorney Steve Meadows refused to acknowledge my charges. When I finally did manage to get a response from Chief Assistant State Attorney William A. Lewis, it was that he didn't have to answer any of my questions, including whether or not he viewed my videotape. In his arrogance, he answered my question.

I wish the ACLU success in their appeal. The Patriot Act(s)just legalized what the government had been doing for some time. What's scary is that these practices have flowed down to state and local law enforcement. And, there are no effective checks and balances to protect the rights of the average American.


maria, isn't the ACLU position to allow you to share your (meaningless) thoughts wonderful?

Bruce Point

The ACLU is not defending the Constitution or the American people by challenging the devices and methods used to protect us all. A sword is used in war and yes it can cut both ways. That is universal cost of conflict. America was founded as a republic based on law but the perversion of the courts by social progressives has left us unprotected and vulnerable to attack.

Gena Lovette ak...

I think the ACLU should mind there own business. They are as bad if not worse than the government. They must be a group of middle aged women going thru the change of life and haven't had sex in years. Busy bodies as they are also known. Angry old stuck up deprived women or gay men who were supposed to be women but somehow the devil gave them the business by putting them in the bodies of men. Vise-versa for lesbians. Good greif ACLU leaders start taking drug or drink or somehting. Stay out of my like already, you people are pests. Just like the spca and other liberal organizations, you would rather feed dogs than people. I can't wait till Jesus comes back, I want so badly to see the look on your faces!


The FBI of Newark NJ gave sworn confessions that the FBI had injected VeriChip type devices into people during warrantless searches.

Also, the FBI of Newark NJ gave sworn confessions that FBI had raped females during FBI's warrantless searches.

Also, Beverly Hills FBI, DEA, USSS gave sworn confessions that those racist anti-semitic agents did crimes against women during warrantless searches. AND they attempted crimes against pro-Israel activists' reputations through cut and pasted audio extortion media on the FBI,CIA,DEA,SDI,police's illegal 'cochlear' device timelines.

Joe keegan

When FL 14th judicial district State Attorney Steve Meadows failed to acknowledge my complaint and evidence charging the cops and officials with concealing illegal electronic surveillance, I filed a FL public records request with then FL Attorney General for all records of my complaint filed with Meadows. A short time later, Meadows’ Chief Assistant State Attorney William A. Lewis contacted me. He responded to my public records request by supplying a copy of my complaint and an altered copy of the VHS tape that I sent to Meadows. When I asked Lewis if he viewed the tape, he said that he doesn’t have to answer my questions. Sometime later, I appeared as summoned in the Holmes County Courthouse for jury duty. Clerk of the Court Cody Taylor asked if anyone wanted to talk to the judge about being excused from jury duty. I raised my hand along with one other prospective juror. I wanted to talk to the judge. The Clerk called the two of us over to him. He told me that the judge doesn’t want to talk to me and excused me from jury duty.

When FL 14th Judicial District’s new State Attorney, Glenn Hess, was sworn in, I filed an updated complaint and evidence with him. Hess not only did not reply to my complaint, but also failed to respond to my FL Public Records Request, which he is legally required to do. On the suggestion of Assistant Attorney General Wilson, I wrote FL Gov. Charlie Crist requesting the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate my charges. I still haven’t received a reply to my request from Gov. Crist. If you’re interested, you can read my letter to Gov. Crist at: .

My point is that the government appears to have declared itself exempt from the same laws that it enforces against its citizens. That’s not only unconstitutional, but also tyrannical. Furthermore, you’re not allowed to prove your charges. Three surveillance experts all verified illegal law enforcement “bugs,” but refused to supply their reports. Two were threatened and the third one had a conflict of interest, which he didn’t disclose. I have suspicions that law enforcement and public officials tampered with the lawyers involved in this abuse of authority and criminal misconduct by law enforcement officers and others. My situation is only one example. Abuse of surveillance tech will become the rule and not the exception. There are no effective checks and balances.


There are stalking groups operating in communities all across this country. Some suggest that COINTELPRO is back with a vengeance.

Who is going to investigate, expose and stop these programs?


Sign Up for Breaking News