The National Security Agency surveillance scandal could now cost the federal government and its corporate cronies a cool $20 billion or more.
The NSA, Department of Justice, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and the 12 companies allegedly collaborating with the government to conduct warrantless surveillance of American citizens are all named defendants in a class action lawsuit brought by former Justice Department prosecutor Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch.
“Government dishonesty and tyranny against the people have reached historic proportions,” Klayman said in a statement. “The time has come for ‘We the People’ to rise up and reclaim control of our nation.”
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks $20 billion in damages, a “cease and desist” order, expunction of all phone and communication records collected by the government through its PRISM surveillance program and “full disclosure and complete accounting” of what the named companies have allowed the DOJ and NSA to do.
The companies named in the suit include the following: Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Skype, YouTube, Apple, PalTalk, AOL and Yahoo. Combined with Verizon, which has been named in a separate class action lawsuit, the users and subscribers of these companies reportedly comprise a majority of the U.S. citizenry, thus positioning the lawsuit to pit the American people against their government and its corporate collaborators.
“This and the Verizon class action will serve to unify all political and social persuasions in our great nation to wage a second American revolution, one that is peaceful and legal – but pursued with great resolve and force,” Klayman asserted. “If not, the government will control us, and this will mark the end of individual liberties.
“The American people can thus use these class actions to ‘man the barricades of freedom’ against the establishment government despots and their corporate enablers who seek to enslave them through coercive abuses of their privacy,” Klayman continued.
Thus far, the companies named in the lawsuit have denied any knowledge of or participation in the PRISM surveillance program.
Yet the Washington Post reports it obtained a top-secret document on a government program in which the NSA and FBI are “tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets.”
The Guardian, which also obtained a top-secret document, reported the NSA was granted direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other U.S. Internet giants under the PRISM program, allowing it to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats.
The class-action lawsuit claims the long list of defendants has violated customers’ and citizens’ reasonable expectation of privacy as well as rights to free speech and association and the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, rights ensured by the First and Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
“The government has acknowledged that it is collecting ‘metadata’ about every phone call made or received by residents of the U.S., and these records provide intricate details, including the identity of the individual who was spoken to, the length of time of the conversation and where the conversation took place,” the lawsuit explains. “Moreover, it gives the government a comprehensive record of an individual’s associations, speech, and public movements while revealing personal details about an individual’s familial, political, professional, religious and intimate associations.”
The lawsuit accuses the companies, furthermore, of opening “key telecommunication databases to direct access by the NSA and/or other government agencies, intercepting and disclosing to the government the contents of its customers as well as detailed communication records over 300 million of its customers.
“Such broad and intrusive PRISM collections directly violate the U.S. Constitution,” the lawsuit continues. “As Jameel Jaffeer, the ACLU’s deputy legal director, stated, ‘It is beyond Orwellian, and it provides further evidence of the extent to which basic democratic rights are being surrendered in secret to the demands of unaccountable intelligence agencies.’”
As WND reported, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said during a Sunday appearance on Fox News that he is looking to sue the federal government as well over its policy of massive data collection on American citizens.
“I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level. I’m going to be asking the Internet providers and all of the phone companies: Ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit,” Paul said. “If we get 10 million Americans saying, ‘We don’t want our phone records looked at,’ then maybe someone will wake up and things will change in Washington.”