(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/7/15)Â â€“ The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nationâ€™s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed a ruling by a federal appeals court that the National Security Agency's (NSA) â€˜dragnetâ€™ collection of Americans' phone records is illegal under the USA Patriot Actâ€™s amendment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, ruled that the collection of bulk telephone records “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.” The court did not rule on a larger Constitutional question of privacy violations.
Judge Gerard Lynch wrote for the three-judge panel: “The statutes to which the government points have never been interpreted to authorize anything approaching the breadth of the sweeping surveillance at issue here.”
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan permitted the NSA program to continue temporarily.
“The court rightly found that Section 215 of FISA does not authorize this sort of mass, warrantless and suspicionless surveillance, but instead requires that its powers be used only if the information sought is relevant to a particular suspect under investigation,” said CAIR Senior Staff Attorney William Burgess.Â
Burgessadded:”The government cannot simply declare that it must collect data about everyone in order to find data about terrorists. It must focus its surveillance on those as to whom there is evidence of an actual connection to terrorism.Â In addition, although the court's ruling was limited to statutory interpretation, such dragnet surveillance also clearly violates the Fourth Amendment rights of all Americans.”
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT:Â CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org