Experts Predict Suits Over U.S. Surveillance Will Fail On Security Grounds


Disclosures of the sweeping government collection of telephone and Internet records have reinvigorated a debate over whether the programs can be challenged as unconstitutional surveillance, says the Washington Post. In revealing his identity as the principal source of the leaks, Edward Snowden, a contractor for the National Security Agency, said he hoped the programs will now face legal jeopardy for the first time. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) vowed to bring a class-action lawsuit. Experts on the legal wars over surveillance sounded a strong note of caution, saying the government fiercely resists lawsuits on national security grounds. About 70 suits were filed after the George W. Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping was revealed in 2005; nearly all have been dismissed. “The courts have made it very hard to do this,” said Steven Goldberg, a lawyer in Portland, Or. “How do you get a judge to be strong enough to stand up to what we call the government's talismanic utterance of national security in court?” Other lawyers expressed optimism that Snowden's disclosures could trigger successful lawsuits. The American Civil Liberties Union urged the secret court that oversees government surveillance in national security cases to make public its opinion that was the legal basis for the newly revealed phone program.

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