By Ryan J. Reilly and Matt Sledge
The Obama administration’s seizure of millions of phone Verizon phone records under a secret court order is “alarming” and “beyond Orwellian,” an American Civil Liberties Union official said Wednesday.
The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald reported on a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order that required Verizon to turn over information on all telephone calls both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries on an “ongoing, daily basis” until July 19. The order was issued on April 25.
“From a civil liberties perspective, the program could hardly be any more alarming,” Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in a statement. “It’s a program in which some untold number of innocent people have been put under the constant surveillance of government agents. It is beyond Orwellian, and it provides further evidence of the extent to which basic democratic rights are being surrendered in secret to the demands of unaccountable intelligence agencies.”
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said in a statement he could not comment on the details in the Guardian’s report, but reiterated that he felt Americans would be taken aback by the way courts have interpreted the government’s spying powers.