Five civil rights groups, business leaders join suit seeking to stop wiretaps

Published: Thursday April 20, 2006

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Five major civil rights organizations and six business leaders announced their support for a suit filed against President Bush to stop the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretap program today, RAW STORY has learned.

Last year, it became known that the NSA has been intercepting the phone and e-mail communications of Americans without first obtaining judicial approval. Many believe this to be in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The American Civil Liberties Union also believes the program violates consitutional free speech and privacy rights. The group has filed suit in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan, seeking a declaration that the NSA spying is illegal, and an immediate and permanent halt to the program.

In a friend-of-the-court brief, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, United for Peace and Justice, and the Japanese Americans Citizens League linked warrantless spying with past surveillance of similar groups. A congressional investigation in the 1970s exposed widespread civil rights era abuse.

In their own brief, leaders in the business community pushed the importance of confidential and secure communications and trust in democratic values to economic growth. They contend that the NSA is also engaging in wholesale datamining by sifting through millions of calls and e-mails of ordinary Americans. International trade, the business signers argue, requires trading partners' trust in the security of electronic communication.

Signers of that document were Michael Kieschnick, President, COO, and a co-founder of Working Assets Funding Service, Inc., Mal Warwick, founder and Chairman of Mal Warwick & Associates, Ronald Algrant, Senior Vice President of HarperCollins Publishers, Adam Kanzer of Domini Social Investments, Peter Strugatz, President of Strugatz Ventures, Inc., Joe Sibilia, President and CEO of Meadowbrook Lane Capital.