By Matthew Rothschild on June 11, 2013

By Matthew Rothschild

The American Civil Liberties Union just filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration over the NSA’s grabbing of the phone records of Verizon customers.

The government’s “mass call tracking” is not authorized by the Patriot Act, and it “violates the First and Fourth Amendments,” the group alleges.

“The practice is akin to snatching every American’s address book—with annotations detailing whom we spoke to, when we talked, for how long, and from where,” the lawsuit says. “It gives the government a comprehensive record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail about our familial, political, professional, religious, and intimate associations.”

The ACLU itself is a Verizon customer, the lawsuit states, arguing that the mass call tracking unlawfully interferes with the group’s work.

The information the government has been collecting under this mass call tracking “could readily be used to identify those who contact Plaintiffs for legal assistance or to report human-rights or civil-liberties violations, as well as those whom Plaintiffs contact in connection with their work,” says the lawsuit. “The fact that the government is collecting this information is likely to have a chilling effect on people who would otherwise contact Plaintiffs.” The ACLU is asking the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York to declare the program unconstitutional and to permanently stop it. The group also wants the court to order government agencies “to purge from their possession all of the call records of Plaintiffs’ communications in their possession collected pursuant to the Mass Call Tracking.” The ACLU has named as defendants: James Clapper, director of national intelligence; Keith Alexander, director of the NSA; Chuck Hagel, Defense Secretary; Eric Holder, Attorney General; and Robert Mueller III, director of the FBI. Joining the ACLU in the suit is the ACLU Foundation, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story Why Was This Spying Classified in the First Place?.

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

 

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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