Obama defends massive surveillance program as former Justice Department prosecutor files lawsuit
By End the Lie
President Barack Obama has come out today in defense of the massive surveillance program run by the National Security Agency (NSA) involving both direct access to the servers of Internet giants and ordering Verizon to hand over the records of all phone calls in the U.S.
Meanwhile, Larry Klayman, a former Department of Justice prosecutor and founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, has filed a lawsuit over the seizure of Verizon phone records against Verizon, Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department, NSA Director Keith Alexander, the NSA itself and Roger Vinson, the federal judge who signed and issued the order.
Klayman, himself a user of Verizon, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, citing violations of the 1st, 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution.
“Here, there is no doubt that this massive illegal seizure had to be authorized and approved at the highest levels of the executive branch, which necessarily leads to the president, attorney general and the director of the NSA,” Klayman said in a statement.
“These violations of free speech, prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure, and due process rights are unprecedented in American history,” Klayman said. “They make the fictional scenarios depicted in the literary works of George Orwell’s  and Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ look tame, particularly when coupled with other burgeoning government scandals concerning the IRS, the equally illegal seizure of phone records of Fox News and AP, and other abuses of power.”
However, Obama claimed on Friday after speaking on the Affordable Health Care Act in California that “nobody is listening to your telephone calls.”
“I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” Obama said.
“The programs are secret in the sense that they are classified, but they are not secret in the sense that when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program,” Obama claimed.
However, the Obama administration claimed that disclosing a secret court opinion on government surveillance would likely cause “exceptionally grave and serious damage to the national security.”
When it comes down to it, they refuse to actually defend the most basic aspects of their surveillance activities in court.
“With respect to all of these programs, the relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed on these programs,” Obama said. “These are programs that have been authorized by broad bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006. And so I think at the onset it is important to understand that your dually elected representatives have been consistently informed on exactly what we’re doing.”
“When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That’s not what this program was about,” Obama said.
“As indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls. They are not looking at people’s names and they are not looking at content. But, by sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism,” he claimed.
“With respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to US citizens and it does not apply to people living in the United States,” Obama said about PRISM, completely contradicting what we now know about the program. “And again in this instance, not only is Congress fully appraised of it, but what is also true is that the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] court has to authorize it.”
“In the abstract you can complain about big brother and how this is a potential program run amok, but when you actually look at the details then I think we’ve struck the right balance,” Obama said.
“It would appear that Obama and his government ‘yes men’ know no constitutional bounds, and the courts are no longer ‘independent’ such that they will protect American citizens from this tyranny,” Klayman stated.
Based on Obama’s defense of the program, one can expect that they won’t take Klayman’s lawsuit all that seriously. It will be interesting to see how they respond.
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