Nebraska ACLU Stands Up Against Wiretappings

Here’s an interesting take on the whole wiretapping thing: what happens when an action may or may not violate the federal constitution (according to the SCOTUS interpretation) but it violates a state’s constitution? Can a state ban private collusion with the government on wiretapping?

The ACLU of Nebraska is set to find out. They filed an FOIA request asking about FBI monitoring on anti-war groups in Nebraska. Two formal complaints were filed with the Nebraska Public Service Commission, one against AT&T and one against Verizon.

Enclosed with this letter are two formal complaints against Verizon and AT&T
that ACLU Nebraska files on behalf of its members regarding reports that these
companies violated their privacy as well as Nebraska state law.
In filing these formal complaints, ACLU Nebraska also wishes to share a key
legal decision regarding a telecommunications provider and the state secrets privilege,
delivered Thursday, July 20, 2006. In the case of Hepting v. AT&T Corp a federal judge
refused to dismiss a lawsuit against AT&T, arising out of the company’s cooperation
with the National Security Agency’s surveillance program. In the first ruling on this issue
anywhere in the country, the court affirmed that the NSA program itself was not a state
secret nor was AT&T’s cooperation with that program. The court further ruled that the
privilege did not require that the lawsuit be dismissed and ordered the parties to go
forward with discovery regarding the non-secret information in the case.

Even if, by some miracle, SCOTUS rules wiretapping okay on the federal level, it’s possible to throw fifty separate wrenches into the system by taking this to the state level. If anyone’s interested in this particular case, you can keep up with it here. It might be a smart idea to get together any and all civil libertarian groups to start things like this in all fifty states, and strip the secrecy bare until we’re certain our privacy is safe.

Stuart Richards

Stuart Richards is a 26-year-old land surveyor based out of Portland, OR. He is a left-leaning geolibertarian and (theologically) liberal Christian, and has been blogging on and other libertarian sites since 2004.

  1. Am I the only person who seems to think that the FOIA request will be denied summarily on “National Defense Interests” basis-type statements?

  2. I don’t like wiretapping or the idea of someone listening to my calls. But you also have to balance this with the government trying to keep us safer by doing the wiretapping.

    I’m still going back and forth on the issue.

    But one has to follow the law as well. Wiretapping ithout following the proper procedures is definitely illegal and should be punished.

    Harold Hunter Jr

    Hunter Law Office, PLLC
    464 Eastway Drive
    Charlotte, NC 28205