Jewel v. NSA

In Jewel v. NSA, EFF is suing the NSA and other government agencies on behalf of AT&T customers to stop the illegal unconstitutional and ongoing dragnet surveillance of their communications and communications records.

Filed in 2008, Jewel v. NSA is aimed at ending the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and holding accountable the government officials who illegally authorized it. Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA.

It also includes declarations from three NSA whistleblowers along with a mountain of other evidence, including secret government documents recently published in the Guardian and Washington Post that confirm our allegations. Two of the most critical documents directly reference the “upstream” collection of communications from fiber optic cables and the domestic telephone records collection program, which was subsequently confirmed by the government in June 2013. 

In addition to suing the government agencies involved in the domestic dragnet, Jewel v. NSA also targets the individuals responsible for creating authorizing and implementing the illegal program including DIRNSA Keith Alexander and former Vice President Dick Cheney, Cheney’s former chief of staff David Addington, former Attorney General and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, and other individuals who ordered or participated in the warrantless domestic surveillance.

The Obama administration moved to dismiss Jewel in 2009, claiming that litigation over the wiretapping program would require the government to disclose privileged “state secrets” and that it was immune from suit.  The court instead ruled that the case should be dismissed on standing grounds.  Fortunately, in December of 2011, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Plaintiffs’ allegations were sufficient to provide standing and Jewel could proceed in district court.

In July 2012, EFF moved to have the court declare that the FISA law applies instead of the state secrets privilege; in September, 2012 the government renewed its "state secrets" claims and the matter was heard by the federal district court in San Francisco on Dec. 14, 2012.

In July 2013, the court rejected the government’s “state secrets” argument, ruling that any properly classified details can be litigated under the procedures of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The court did dismiss some of our statutory claims, but the other claims, including that the program violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, continue.

For the full complaint in Jewel v. NSA and the RECAP archive of the full Jewel case docket at the District Court.

Watch video of the Dec. 14, 2012 Hearing here and read the most recent court ruling rejecting the government’s “state secrets” argument here.

Oral argument on the Government's Motion to Dismiss the Appeal will be on October 28, 2015 at 2:00 in Courtroom 1 of the Richard H. Chambers US Court of Appeals, Pasadena, CA.

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