Last week, the New York Times reported that President Bush personally authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to wiretap the international phone and email communications of people within the U.S., all without getting search warrants. We've gotten several inquiries from people wondering what EFF thinks about it, and whether we plan on suing anyone.
The short answer is that we think the newly-revealed NSA wiretapping is completely illegal, violating both the Fourth Amendment and criminal statutes that prohibit unauthorized electronic surveillance. However, without a client who has actually been spied on as part of the NSA program, it is possible that neither we nor anyone else will be able to bring a civil lawsuit. There's still the possibility of a criminal prosecution, but the Attorney General has argued that the wiretapping is legal and clearly doesn't plan on pursuing a criminal investigation, and the White House has made clear that it intends to continue the wiretapping program. So what can be done?
The most important step now is to make sure that Congress holds full hearings on the matter and gets to the bottom of this illegal scheme to invade Americans' privacy. Such hearings may generate enough political pressure to force Attorney General Gonzales to appoint a special prosecutor, who would be authorized to conduct an independent investigation and bring criminal charges against those who violated the law. There's already some bipartisan support in Congress for hearings after the holiday recess, but we could use your help to ensure that those hearings actually happen. So visit our Action Center today to send a message to Congress showing your support for hearings and your opposition to illegal eavesdropping by the NSA.
After you've done that, pop on over to Bruce Schneier's blog. In addition to providing his own insights, he's been collecting links to all the best news reports and blogger commentary, along with links to relevant legal authorities. Also keep an eye on Deep Links, as we'll be blogging more on the NSA scandal after the holiday.