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Reporters Committee files brief in FISA eavesdropping suit

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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a brief in federal district court in Manhattan today asking the…

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a brief in federal district court in Manhattan today asking the court to find that the FISA Amendments Acts of 2008 violates the First Amendment rights of journalists to gather news.

The FISA Amendments Act, signed into law this summer, amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to allow the government to intercept communications between U.S. citizens and people abroad without first obtaining a judicial warrant. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the government, in Amnesty International v. McConnell, on behalf of a group of journalists, authors, attorneys and activists, arguing that the law violates the constitution.

The Reporters Committee argued in a friend-of-the-court brief that the law specifically violates the First Amendment rights of journalists by eliminating the ability for journalists and their international sources to communicate confidentially. The law also violates the constitutionally protected role of the news media as a watchdog on government action.

“The FISA Amendment dramatically reduces the ability of American reporters to inform their readers, viewers and listeners about valuable international news,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy Dalglish.