Today, EFF will go to court to defend your Fourth Amendment rights and urge the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to let our class-action lawsuit against AT&T go forward. The case demands that AT&T stop illegally assisting the National Security Agency (NSA) to snoop on its customers' telephone and Internet communications.
There's much more at stake than stopping the Bush Administration's illegal spying and holding the telco giant accountable, though. The President is arguing that thin claims of "state secrets" can trump the courts' constitutional duty to uphold the rule of law.
Without judicial review, there's no way to protect ordinary citizens against government abuses of power. No president, now or in the future, should be allowed unfettered authority to evade the courts and trample on your freedom. As Judge Vaughn Walker wrote in rejecting the government's claims at the lower court, "The compromise between liberty and security remains a difficult one. But dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security."
For the past 17 years, EFF has been proud to take on the hard cases to ensure that your liberty is not sacrificed unnecessarily. Please support us in this critical case by donating to EFF at http://secure.eff.org/att. And please spread the word to your friends and family.
As we all learned in school, Congress is also supposed to keep the Executive in line. But so far it has utterly failed to do its job; just two weeks ago, Congress surrendered to the President's outrageous demands and passed horrible legislation authorizing warrantless eavesdropping on Americans' international communications with virtually no oversight. Congress has also failed to engage in any serious investigation about the warrantless wiretapping to date. With your support, we'll be reminding them of their duty in the coming weeks and hopefully will convince them to restore your rights.
We won't just wait for Congress to come to its senses, though -- Americans deserve their day in court right now. Backed by overwhelming evidence, including whistleblower testimony from a former AT&T employee, our lawsuit alleges an unprecedented program of dragnet domestic surveillance. AT&T has given the NSA unchecked backdoor access to its communications network and its record databases, violating the rights of its millions of customers. While we certainly oppose Congress' recent dramatic expansion of spying powers, even the new law does not authorize such far-reaching, illegal, and unconstitutional dragnet surveillance, and it doesn't change AT&T's culpability for helping the government in its illegal activities over the last six years.
But Congress' capitulation does make our case even more critical. All three branches of government have a duty to protect your rights. If the Administration succeeds in using "state secrets" claims to shut down our litigation after scaring Congress away, we may never be able to hold AT&T and the White House responsible for violating millions of Americans' constitutional rights. And, more importantly, we may not be able to stop it.
We simply cannot let that happen. In a momentous victory last year, the district court shot down the government's overreaching arguments and allowed our case to go forward. Help EFF finish the job and restore the checks and balances that define our democracy.
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