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Government Accountability Project Statement on 2nd Circuit’s Ruling That NSA's Bulk Phone Metadata Collection Is Illegal

May 07, 2015
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in ACLU v. Clapper that the NSA’s bulk phone metadata surveillance program is illegal because it exceeds the authority granted in the PATRIOT ACT. This ruling represents a major step in repealing the surveillance state and offers vindication for GAP clients such as Bill Binney, Thomas Drake, and Edward Snowden, who scarified so much to blow the whistle on flagrant abuses of power.

“The court acknowledged that this ruling and the various reform proposals working their way through Congress wouldn’t have been possible without the disclosures from whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden, who forced the government to admit the NSA’s surveillance program’s existence,” said Jesselyn Radack, GAP’s National Security and Human Rights Director.

“Without courageous whistleblowers such as GAP Clients William Binney, Kirk Weibe, Thomas Drake and Edward Loomis, this victory for all Americans’ privacy rights would not be possible. Congress, the courts and the public would still be in the dark about the government’s illegal mass surveillance.”

The court systematically shot down the government’s arguments that the program was beyond judicial review, that Congress had sufficient information when it last reauthorized the Patriot Act, and that the phone surveillance program was duly authorized. The court also held that the government’s interpretation of the Patriot Act was “unprecedented” and “unwarranted.”

Congress must now grapple with the court's ruling as it faces the looming Patriot Act Section 215 sunset on June 1st. The Government Accountability Project hopes this ruling will spur Congress to make real reforms that would not only end bulk phone metadata collection, but also place strong transparency and whistleblower provisions on the national security apparatus to stem the tide of abuses.

While this ruling is certainly a step in the right direction, the fight is far from over. Whistleblowers who risk everything to hold those in power accountable are persecuted with near impunity, leaving our rights vulnerable to continued assault.

CONTACT: Andrew Harman, GAP Communications Director
Phone: (202) 457-0034 EXT. 156
Email: AndrewH@whistleblower.org

Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP's mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

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