ACLU and Rand Paul say NSA doesn't have the constitutional authority to collect Americans' cell records

06/13/2013 08:18 AM

On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is teaming up with tea party organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union to make public a legal strategy aimed at stopping National Security Agency programs that track Americans’ communications.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York to block the NSA’s collection of data about Americans phone calls. The ACLU is a customer of Verizon Business Network Services, which was the subject of one of the leaked secret court orders requesting phone data for the NSA to review and keep.

Kate Miller, program associate with the ACLU of Kentucky, said the organization wants the court to stop the program and force the NSA to dump the data it has collected already.

“We are hopeful we will be able to interfere with this program. We’re hopeful we’ll be able — especially with the support of the American public — to make this program more open and accountable, not only to Congress but to the voters as well,” Miller said.

Miller told Pure Politics that this issue is an example of how the ACLU is principle-driven and not partisan as it teams up with tea party groups and officials including Paul.

But on Wednesday, the head of the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander, told a U.S. Senate panel that the phone and Internet data collection programs helped thwart “dozens” of terrorist plots.

Miller said that the ends don’t justify the means.

“Certainly we believe that national security is a priority and that the government should be collecting information about threats to America and threats to national security. We don’t believe that gives the government the broad authority to get cell phone records and metadata for millions and millions of innocent Americans who have never been charged with a crime,” Miller said.

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