72 Congressman File Amicus Brief Challenging NSA Warrantless Surveillance

The ACLU's lawsuit against Bush's NSA warrantless surveillance program is set for hearing in federal court in Michigan on June 12. Today, the organization announced that 72 members of Congress, led by Rep. John Conyers, have filed a friend of court brief. The ACLU reports (press release, will be online soon here):

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan, seeks a court order declaring that the NSA spying is illegal and ordering its immediate and permanent halt.

The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of a group of prominent journalists, scholars, attorneys and national nonprofit organizations (including the ACLU) who frequently communicate by phone and e-mail with people in the Middle East. Because of the nature of their calls and e-mails, they believe the program is disrupting their ability to talk with sources, locate witnesses, conduct scholarship and engage in advocacy. The spying program has sparked national and international furor and has been condemned by lawmakers across the political spectrum.

As to the brief (which is excellent, I read it yesterday):

The brief signed by the congressional members refuted, point-by-point, the arguments of legality made by the Bush Administration. The legislators argue strongly that there is no evidence that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court could not be effectively employed in a post September 11 environment. The lawmakers also use the brief to vehemently state that Congress by no means gave the administration carte blanche to collect intelligence as Commander-in-Chief and that the program is "operating against the express as well as the implied will of Congress."

Since 2001, the NSA has been secretly intercepting the phone and e-mail communications of Americans without any judicial check and in violation of the Fourth Amendment. According to the ACLU, the NSA spying program directed by President Bush violates the free speech and privacy rights of innocent Americans. A secret program to monitor Americans without warrants jeopardizes the freedom of expression that is essential to a healthy democracy. Such a policy also threatens the exchange of information and ideas that countless businesses, journalists and lawyers depend on for their livelihood.

Under the program, the NSA is also engaging in wholesale datamining, capturing millions of calls and e-mails of ordinary American residents who have done nothing wrong. Saying that the Bush administration's illegal spying on Americans must end, the ACLU filed its lawsuit against the NSA in January of this year.

If no one else posts the brief, I will. In the meantime, here are the signers:

U.S. Representatives who signed on to the brief with Conyers include: Neil Abercrombie, HI; Gary Ackerman, NY; Brian Baird, WA; Tammy Baldwin, WI; Howard Berman, CA; Shelley Berkley, NV; Earl Blumenauer, OR; Rick Boucher, VA; Corrine Brown, FL; Michael Capuano, MA; Julia Carson, IN; William Lacy Clay, MO; Artur Davis, AL; Peter DeFazio, OR; Diana DeGette, CO; William Delahunt, MA; Sam Farr, CA; Chaka Fattah, PA; Barney Frank, MA; Al Green, TX; Raul Grijalva, AZ; Maurice Hinchey, NY; Ruben Hinojosa, TX; Michael Honda, CA; Jesse Jackson, Jr., IL; Sheila Jackson Lee, TX; Eddie Bernice Johnson, TX; Stephanie Tubbs Jones, OH; Dale E. Kildee, MI; Carolyn C. Kilpatrick, MI; Dennis Kucinich, OH; Tom Lantos, CA; Barbara Lee, CA; Zoe Lofgren, CA; John Lewis, GA; Carolyn Maloney, NY; Edward Markey, MA; Jim McDermott, WA; James McGovern, MA; Martin Meehan, MA; George Miller, CA; James Moran, VA; Jerrold Nadler, NY; Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.; James Oberstar, MN; John Olver, MA; Major Owens, NY; Donald Payne, NJ; Charles Rangel, NY; Linda Sanchez, CA; Bernard Sanders, VT; Janice Schakowsky, IL; Bobby Scott, VA; Jose Serrano, NY; Brad Sherman, CA; Louise Slaughter, NY; Hilda Solis, CA; Fortney Pete Stark, CA; Bennie Thompson, MS; John Tierney, MA; Tom Udall, NM; Chris Van Hollen, MD; Debbie Wasserman Shultz, FL; Melvin Watt, NC; Maxine Waters, CA; Diane Watson, CA; Henry Waxman, CA; Robert Wexler, FL; Lynn Woolsey, CA; David Wu, OR; and Albert Russell Wynn, MD.

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    Re: 72 Congressman File Amicus Brief Challenging N (none / 0) (#1)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu May 11, 2006 at 09:34:04 AM EST
    I had no idea all this time that when the right was saying "they hate us because we are free" they were talking about their own party.

    In the midst of all of the pandering politicos who wrap themselves in Old Glory and exhibit the smirk that faux patriots wear when they're up to no good stands the Honorable John Conyers, who doggedly defends our Constitution day-in and day-out. To me, John Conyers represents real American values and patriotism. To hell with the sanctity of marriage. It's time to promote the sanctity of our Constitution.