For the first time, the National Security Agency's controversial phone surveillance program is being scrutinized by a federal appeals court as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argues the merits of a lawsuit against the NSA in front of U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals judge.
The program has repeatedly received the nod from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and several district courts have ruled against it, an ACLU blog post explained. A December 2013 ruling by a federal judge in New York against the ACLU, in ACLU v. Clapper, prompted an appeal.
Alex Abdo, an ACLU staff attorney, said the case forces the government to publicly defend its program.
“…Today, we're one step closer to having a definitive ruling on the legality of at least one of those [post 9/11] programs,” Abdo wrote.