June 5, 2013, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the following statement in response to breaking news first published in The Guardian showing a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court order requiring Verizon to turn over phone records of all telephone calls from the U.S. to abroad, and within the United States, including local calls, between now and July 19, 2013.
As far as we know this order from the FISA court is the broadest surveillance order to ever have been issued: it requires no level of suspicion and applies to all Verizon subscribers anywhere in the U.S. It also contains a gag order prohibiting Verizon from disclosing information about the order to anyone other than their counsel.The Patriot Act’s incredibly broad surveillance provision purportedly authorizes an order of this sort, though its constitutionality is in question and several senators have complained about it. The Patriot Act provision requires the FBI to notify Congress about the number of such warrants, but this single order covering millions of people is a deceptive end-run around that disclosure requirement.The presumed incoming FBI director, James Comey, will be the one in charge of and responsible for deciding whether to seek renewals of this order and any future orders like it, which is interesting in light of his complicated history with NSA surveillance. It certainly suggests some questions he should answer in his confirmation hearings.We will continue to challenge the surveillance of Americans in our case currently pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Center for Constitutional Rights v. Obama.