Warrantless Surveillance 101–EFF’s New NSA Domestic Spying Guide

On December 14th, EFF is back in federal court challenging the NSA’s domestic spying program in our long-running case Jewel v. NSAIn anticipation of our court appearance, we’ve launched a new section of our website to give everyone a clear understanding how the NSA warrantless wiretapping program works and why we’re challenging it as unconstitutional.

While the government claims the NSA’s infamous program is too secret to be litigated, it isn’t a secret—and we’ve catalogued the trove of information that has become public since it was first revealed by the New York Times in 2005. This including declarations under oath by an AT&T whistleblower and three NSA whistleblowers, sworn testimony before Congress, investigations by government Inspectors General and stories by major media organizations based on highly placed sources, along with public admissions by government officials.

You can now view our NSA domestic spying timeline, an explanation of how the NSA conducts the spying, a history of the controversial ‘state secrets’ privilege (which the government is invoking in an attempt to have our lawsuit dismissed), and a breakdown of how the government uses word games when talking about the program to hide what they’re doing.

Here’s a more detailed look at the new features:

Our NSA Domestic Spying Timeline lays out key events in the history of the Program and this litigation, based on these categories of sources:

  1. Inspectors General Report: The Inspectors General report on the Program, summarizing the unclassified findings of five different agencies;
  2. Sworn testimony: The evidence given in Congressional hearings, court declarations, and other legal documents.
  3. Named Government Officials: Information obtained from media investigations that based on accounts from named government officials
  4. Unnamed Government Officials: Information obtained from media investigations that based on accounts from unnamed government sources; and
  5. Court Events: All the notable court actions like decisions, oral arguments, and important legal briefs in the numerous warrantless wiretapping legal cases;

Each timeline entry conveys the event, a larger explanation, and a link to the source document.

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