(WASHINGTON, D.C., 01/17/06) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today announced that it has joined a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a secret National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program that targeted American citizens without court authorization.
The bipartisan lawsuit, filed in Detroit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), alleges that the NSA surveillance program violates the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution and the constitutional separation of powers because it was authorized by President Bush in excess of his executive authority. It also seeks a court order to bring the program to an end.
“The First and Fourth Amendment protections of free speech and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizure are hallmarks of the Constitution that should not be tossed aside so casually by any branch of our government,” said CAIR Board Chairman Parvez Ahmed. “CAIR joined this lawsuit to protect the legal foundation of America and the civil rights of all its citizens.”
He cited a national media report today that even FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, “raised concerns about the legal rationale for a program of eavesdropping without warrants.”
Yesterday, former Vice President Al Gore called on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the NSA wiretapping program.
Ahmed also noted that the NSA surveillance program chills efforts by the American Muslim community to build bridges of understanding between the United States and the Islamic world.
As the ACLU lawsuit states: “[M]embers of the American Muslim community, many of whom are members of CAIR, are engaged in efforts of commerce, education and social services with individuals and institutions in the Muslim world. The work of the American Muslim community in being able to engage freely in commerce, education and social services in the Muslim world is a vital part of building bridges between America and the Muslim world and thus, is integral to America’s national security and vital interests.”
The plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit include CAIR, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the environmental advocacy group Greenpeace, award-winning author James Bamford, Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, author Christopher Hitchens, American Prospect Senior Editor Tara McKelvey, and Barnett Rubin, a senior fellow at the New York University Center on International Cooperation.
In December, CAIR filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all government records relating to President Bush’s post-9/11 executive orders authorizing electronic surveillance of Americans and others in the United States without first obtaining court approval, as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
CAIR has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.
CONTACT: CAIR Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar, 202-488-8787 or 202-415-0799, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com