Whistleblowers Band Together To Sue FBI, NSA And DOJ For Malicious Prosecution, Civil Liberties Violations

from the jury-trial-request-will-never-be-obliged,-that's-for-sure dept

This should be fun. A bunch of whistleblowers that were hounded, surveilled and prosecuted/persecuted by the US government are banding together to sue all the big names in domestic surveillance.

Thomas Drake, Diane Roark, Ed Loomis, J. Kirk Wiebe and William Binney have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the NSA, FBI, DOJ, Michael Hayden, Keith Alexander, Chris Inglis, Robert Mueller and a handful of others. They will be represented by Larry Klayman, who has some experience suing intelligence agencies.

The claims arise from the government's treatment of these whistleblowers after they started making noise about the NSA's surveillance programs. More specifically, the lawsuit points to the short-lived internet surveillance program THINTHREAD, which was ignored and abandoned in favor of something more expensive, but less protective of Americans' communications.

Plaintiffs worked in various roles on developing and perfecting a candidate program called THINTHREAD which was capable of performing the technical work desired by the NSA for surveillance of the internet efficiently, effectively, and at very low cost.
THINTHREAD was put into operation successfully but only on a demonstration basis. It was approved to demonstrate that it worked, but not officially commissioned for actual operational use.

Despite the Plaintiffs demonstrating that THINTHREAD actually worked, the NSA ignored THINTHREAD as a candidate for performing the desired surveillance of the internet and telephone communications, because THINTHREAD was inexpensive and highly effective, yet Lt. General Michael Hayden had made a corporate decision to “buy” externally rather than “build” internally the solution deemed necessary to harvest internet data.
$4 billion went into another program called TRAILBLAZER (THINTHREAD's internal development cost, by contrast, was only $4 MILLION), along with five years of development. In the end, TRAILBLAZER never worked properly and was abandoned by the NSA in 2006.

This wasteful "funneling" of funds to preferred government contractors was reported to the Dept. of Defense by four of the whistleblowers, under the heading of waste, fraud and misuse of taxpayers' money. The DoD wasn't happy. It issued a scathing internal report. But the NSA wasn't interested in having its faults pointed out. It sent the DOJ after the whistleblowers, using an unrelated leak of information about the NSA's expansive domestic surveillance programs to the New York Times as the impetus for a series of raids.

According to the filing, the raids were retaliatory. The government had already determined the plaintiffs had nothing to do with the leaks reported on by the New York Times. And it used faulty affidavits to justify the corresponding raids.
In fact, the affidavit for the search warrants are themselves based upon an illegal, warrantless phone tap and refer to a conversation illegally intercepted between Plaintiff Roark and Plaintiff William Binney, although misrepresenting the call’s contents. Further, the ultimate pretext for the search, a paper describing THINTHREAD at a high level that Binney had given the FBI, was falsely claimed by NSA to be classified. Thus, the search warrant affidavit is not only false but illegal.
The lawsuit also attempts to use the breadth and reach of known surveillance programs as proof the government knew the whistleblowers had nothing to do with the NYT leak.
Moreover, as later revealed by Edward Snowden, the NSA was even then, with the assistance of cooperating telephone and telecommunications companies, conducting mass interception and surveillance of all telephone calls within the domestic United States for the very purpose – at least so they claimed – of detecting both external and internal threats against the national security of the United States.

Therefore, through those phone and internet records, the Defendants had actual evidence at the time of the false affidavit and retaliatory searches and seizures that none of the Plaintiffs had communicated with the The New York Times or other journalists, except that Plaintiff Drake on his own had spoken confidentially with regard to public and /or unclassified information to the Baltimore Sun.
The end result of the FBI, NSA and DOJ's actions in response to whistleblowing (largely performed through proper channels) is a host of alleged civil liberties violations and other abuses, starting with the violation of 1998's Whistleblower Protection Act. From there, the whistleblowers allege violations of their First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, along with malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress and abuse of process.

It will be interesting to see where this goes. The government likely won't be able to dismiss the suit quickly, but the plaintiffs are going to run into a ton of immunity claims that will be buttressed by invocations of national security concerns. Their lawyer -- Larry Klayman -- has occasionally displayed his inability to distinguish between actionable claims and conspiracy theories, a tendency that doesn't improve the plaintiffs' chances of succeeding. But of all the outcomes I imagined for the stories of Drake, Binney, et al, taking these agencies on directly in federal court wasn't one of them.


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  • identicon
    avideogameplayer, 25 Aug 2015 @ 5:18am

    I don't know how far they'll get, but anything and everything that can be put in public record about how the government is abusing its powers is a start...
    Hopefully we can get some precedents for possible future cases...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 5:31am

    Where is the go fund me link

    I would love to throw some $$$ at this to help them out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 6:13am

      Re: Where is the go fund me link

      That knock at the door?

      Homeland security to haul you off to Gitmo for even thinking about providing material support to known domestic terrorist groups.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Oblate, 25 Aug 2015 @ 6:31am

        Re: Re: Where is the go fund me link

        Do they still knock on the door? I thought that now they just burst through the door, threw a few flash-bangs, and then shot you and your dog for not cooperating fast enough.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Shay, 4 Feb 2016 @ 2:38pm

          Re: Re: Re: Where is the go fund me link

          Oh I hope so - the right to bear arms - and like arms to fight a tyrannical government - and kill anyone entering under such circumstances is so important.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 6:00am

    what a shame the most famous recent names aren't (able) involved as well. considering how the government stated it would protect whistleblowers, they soon ignored their own statements are threw these two under the bus, to the wolves, over the side and everywhere else possible to try to stop them from informing the public and be able to shut them up for good!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    SteveG (profile), 25 Aug 2015 @ 6:01am

    Pity about their choice of lawyer

    Larry Klayman's a dishonest idiot. He makes the guys from Prenda look competent and trustworthy.

    http://overlawyered.com/2007/09/inappropriate-and-unethical-behavior/

    http://www.courthou senews.com/2011/08/15/38994.htm

    He's currently representing Joe Arpaio. Enough said.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 6:02am

    Grab the popcorn, this is going to be interesting. I doubt the government can get all the charges dropped against them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DaveK (profile), 25 Aug 2015 @ 6:33am

    *The* Larry Klayman?

    The dumbest lawyer in America not named Mat Staver? /That/ Larry Klayman?

    Damn. That's bad news.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 6:55am

    The fact that Larry Klayman is their legal counsel does not bode well. I support the lawsuit but think it's doomed right out of the gate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 7:02am

    Based on previous examples

    So long as they have the networks prepared to capture the infiltration that we all know will happen, this could easily hand the government their ass. We already know that anyone who dares point out the hypocrisy and lies that our government spews and claims to have proof*, quickly finds their networks and personal lives under a fine tooth comb. Of the people, By the people and for the people*.

    * Your Rights are subject to confiscation and annulment on a case by case basis.
    * People in this case applies only to those who have already been notified.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 7:28am

    I wish this team luck

    How can i help?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    JB Smith, 25 Aug 2015 @ 8:19am

    Virginia state police and no touch torture with biochip implant

    The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and the brain initiative are the worst scams ever perpetrated on the American people. Former U. S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin Warns: Biochips Hazardous to Your Health: Warning, biochips may cause behavioral changes and high suicide rates. State Attorney Generals are to revoke the licenses of doctors and dentists that implant chips in patients. Chip used illegally for GPS, tracking, organized crime, communication and torture. Virginia state police have been implanting citizens without their knowledge and consent for years and they are dying! Check out William and Mary’s site to see the torture enabled by the biochip and the Active Denial System. See Terrorism and Mental Health by Amin Gadit or A Note on Uberveillance by MG & Katina Michael or Safeguards in a World of Ambient Intelligence by Springer or Mind Control, Microchip Implants and Cybernetics. Check out the audio spotlight by Holosonics.

    “Former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) director and now Google Executive, Regina E. Dugan, has unveiled a super small, ingestible microchip that we can all be expected to swallow by 2017. “A means of authentication,” she calls it, also called an electronic tattoo, which takes NSA spying to whole new levels. She talks of the ‘mechanical mismatch problem between machines and humans,’ and specifically targets 10 – 20 year olds in her rant about the wonderful qualities of this new technology that can stretch in the human body and still be functional. Hailed as a ‘critical shift for research and medicine,’ these biochips would not only allow full access to insurance companies and government agencies to our pharmaceutical med-taking compliancy (or lack thereof), but also a host of other aspects of our lives which are truly none of their business, and certainly an extension of the removal of our freedoms and rights.” Google News

    The ARRA authorizes payments to the states in an effort to encourage Medicaid Providers to adopt and use “certified EHR technology” aka biochips. ARRA will match Medicaid $5 for every $1 a state provides. Hospitals are paid $2 million to create “crisis stabilization wards” (Gitmo’s) where state police torture people – even unto death. They stopped my heart 90 times in 6 hours. Virginia Beach EMT’s were called to the scene.
    Mary E. Schloendorff, v. The Society of New York Hospital 105 N. E. 92, 93 (N. Y. 1914) Justice Cardozo states, “every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body; and a surgeon who performs an operation without his patient’s consent, commits an assault, for which he is liable in damages. (Pratt v Davis, 224 Ill. 300; Mohr v Williams, 95 Minn. 261.)

    This case precedent requires police to falsely arrest you or kidnap you and call you a mental health patient in order to force the implant on you. You can also be forced to have a biochip if you have an infectious disease – like Eboli or Aids. Coalition of Justice vs the City of Hampton, VA settled a case out of court for $500,000 and removal of the biochip. Torture is punishable by $1,000 per day up to $2 million; Medical battery is worth $2.05 million.

    They told my family it was the brain initiative. This requires informed, knowledgeable consent. Mark Warner told me it was research with the Active Denial System by the College of William and Mary, the USAF, and state and local law enforcement. It is called IBEX and it is excruciating. If you are an organ donor, they volunteer you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 1:17pm

      WTF - Virginia state police and no touch torture with biochip implant

      You're citing Google News? I don't think it works like that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sorrykb (profile), 25 Aug 2015 @ 8:33am

    They couldn't have found a lawyer who's not an incompetent useless conspiracy theorist idiot?
    So much for this lawsuit...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris Brand, 25 Aug 2015 @ 9:46am

    Clever idea

    I do like the way they use the NSA's "collect it all" against them - "you collected it all, therefore you had evidence that we didn't talk to the NYT". If that argument goes down well in court, it would provide the NSA with some incentive to move towards more targeted collection.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 25 Aug 2015 @ 11:07am

    Baby Steps

    Whistleblowers Band Together To Sue FBI, NSA And DOJ For Malicious Prosecution, Civil Liberties Violations

    Better late than never.

    Once again, a hearty thanks to Winter Patriot Edward Snowden for without his sacrifices in freeing the truth from US government captivity this lawsuit would never have been possible.

    Snowden and Manning 2016.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Pronounce (profile), 25 Aug 2015 @ 1:09pm

    It's Impossible to Wrestle the Power Away From the Power Brokers

    Those unelected officials, that hold the power of the political machine, can not, will not, tolerate whistleblowers, because it upsets their system. In the end the government will be the machine it is and drag this stuff out for years, maybe a decade or more, and then give them a fraction of tax dollars to cover the expenses, time, and mental anguish it took to make their case.

    The American political system is a power-broker's paradise.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      GEMont, 26 Aug 2015 @ 11:46pm

      Re: It's Impossible to Wrestle the Power Away From the Power Brokers

      "...the government will be the machine it is and drag this stuff out for years..."

      Actually, it is just as likely that the Feds will buy off the judges, or hold all hearings behind closed doors, in order to get this whole thing over with ASAP, as an open and shut case using "national Security" justifications, to eliminate the chance of the public becoming interested enough to pay attention between commercials and opening beers.

      The last thing the Power Boys need right now is an informed American citizenry looking up the deeds of whistleblowers and becoming aware of how the USG has been acting like an Immature Ancient Chinese Emperor in response to the deeds of these people, when it should be awarding them medals of valor for their bravery and true patriotism.

      Currently, most of the names on that list are utter unknowns to the general American population, and the Feds would definitely prefer that things stay that way.

      A prolonged public court case would make far too many people take note and become aware of the situation, and that is not desired by the USG at all.

      ---

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Frannie Cohan, 25 Aug 2015 @ 5:49pm

    loose lips sink ...

    I think the point here kids is that this case will create a lot of media that will in turn inspire MANY more whistle blowers to take action - the result of the case is but the icing on the cake!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Justme, 25 Aug 2015 @ 7:48pm

    If nothing else. . .

    Regardless of the success of their case, i hope it demonstrates the increasing problem of law enforcement, prosecutors, and other officials successfully using intimidation to silence critics and hide misconduct.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 26 Aug 2015 @ 1:11am

    Here's looking at you, gov.

    We'll always have Paris.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    alan, 26 Aug 2015 @ 6:13am

    Larry Klayman is a far right-wing troll with a law license. Anyone who questions that should review his tactics representing Joe Arpaio and his "citizens grand jury" indictment of Obama. I am automatically several times more skeptical of the veracity of these claims after seeing that he represents the plaintiffs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Mz. Donna Joy Plattner, 26 Aug 2015 @ 5:02pm

    Speaking out loud....

    Hello, I am Donna Joy and I am a human subject from Omaha Nebraska. I have reached out to lot of good people all over the World. For the Covert Electronic Harassment and Surveillance Program/Project is almost world-wide. Oh did we forget to tell you that there is one or two countries that aren't part of this targeting so it's not World-wide but yet it's all around the world!
    I have signed so many, many petition's and joined more than a handful of " Covert Electronic Harassment and Surveillance and Gang Stalking" Lawsuit's. I feel, that I have a ball & chain at my ankle as for the many, many hours, I spend here at my computer doing my research, looking for answers to the targeting spending hours digging and searching for any kind of hope, A glimpse of light God I pray! Looking to open door's and shut door's at the same time. Maybe I am a Activist but I alright with that because if looking for the truth and looking for answers... which is important to me as it is to others! We need to reach out to others and keep fighting for right and wrong! The Covert Electronic Harassment and Surveillance Program's (no matter what phase you're in) is wrong!It will never end unless WE THE PEOPLE stand together in unity and fight for our Human Right's as well, as for our dignity and honor plus pride and what our families have been put through!

    Your Sister in Christ,
    Mz. Donna Joy Plattner
    4544 Nicholas St. Apt.4#
    Omaha Nebraska,68132
    United States of America
    Aug.26th. 2015

    402-884-5176

    ((WARNING))
    I have Government informant;s hacking at m,y computer & tampering with my phone... Your call could be rerouted, someone could be listening to our conversation, Someone could pretend to be me or impersonate someone else on the telephone line.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GEMont, 27 Aug 2015 @ 12:22am

    Moderated again!

    Wowsers!

    Tried three times to post a response to;

    "Pronounce (profile), Aug 25th, 2015 @ 1:09pm"

    Twice as GEMont and once anonymously and all three were held for moderation, so they either have my computer ID tagged, or somewhere in that string of words is a Verboten keyword that causes a post to undergo close moderator scrutiny here at techdirt.

    Since there was no mention of child sex, bombs or assassinations of prominent assholes in that post and the techdirt staff do not respond to inquiries about why a post was held for moderation, I can only guess that techdirt is becoming less and less the open forum it once was.

    C'est la vie eh. Under fascism all freedoms must be curtailed for the good of the parasites.

    Now to see if this one gets flagged as well. :)

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GEMont, 27 Aug 2015 @ 12:35am

    Moderated Again part 2

    OK it was definitely some word string that caused the moderator bot to trigger.

    I tried to post a correction to my original Wowsers post, and include the banned text, and it was also flagged for moderation.

    Just in case the "correction post" does not get posted - the correction was:

    The original "flagged for moderation post" was in response to:

    "Frannie Cohan, Aug 25th, 2015 @ 5:49pm"

    I had mistakenly posted that it was to;

    "Pronounce (profile), Aug 25th, 2015 @ 1:09pm"

    Crazy shit man.

    I'm gonna try an experiment.

    Post the forbidden message in parts as Anonymous Coward, and see which part gets the moderator bot all steamy.

    You folks can just skip over these.

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 12:36am

    part one

    Precisely why I think it will be quietly "cancelled" at first opportunity through the old National Security Card scam.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 12:37am

    part two

    As it is now, the internet is breeding thousands of future whistleblowers who are planning to become the perfect government employees when they grow up, because that's what real heroes do. The USG has already suffered far too many setbacks in their Plan For A North American Century.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 12:37am

    part three

    Pretty soon, government personnel will become the government's worst nightmare, as all the USG's nasty little secret crimes become the daily fodder for hundreds of blog articles and the real meat of hundreds of amateur investigators and for every whistleblower the Feds catch, three more will take his/her place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 12:38am

    part four

    And while it is impossible to prevent this from occurring, short of eliminating the use of human minions altogether, a court case like the one these Whistleblowers are proposing would definitely escalate the process exponentially.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      GEMont, 27 Aug 2015 @ 4:50pm

      Re: part four

      Oh that's cute.

      Part four is now published, as if it was never missing, yet the original post is still in limbo and will likely not be published.

      For the record it was the words between "short of" and "a court case" that caused the Censor-Bot to puke out a detour to limbo card on my post.

      ---

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GEMont, 27 Aug 2015 @ 12:40am

    AHA!

    Part Four triggered the Mod-Bot.

    So now we post part four as small strings and see if we can determine the actual forbidden words.

    ----

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GEMont, 27 Aug 2015 @ 12:54am

    Wow

    Smart Robot!

    Even attached to other words, the bad words trigger the bot.

    Oh well, that was fun, but now I'm bored too. :)

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 1:02am

    ==============
    CIAF BIN SADOJ
    ==============

    Sounds like a perfect name for a Hollywood Terrorist!!!

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GEMont, 27 Aug 2015 @ 4:55pm

    testicles wun too

    "short of eliminating the use of human minions altogether"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GEMont, 27 Aug 2015 @ 5:12pm

    Silly Robot

    Well, the Verboten Words apparently no longer cause a censor-bot spasm.

    I figgered it was the combination of the word "eliminate", possibly meaning "kill" and the word "human", possibly meaning "person", that triggered the bot, originally.

    And while these Awesome Powerful Dangerous words no longer trigger the thing, my origial post is still being held hostage by the Moderator, even though it is reproduced (in whole now) in the four parts posts.

    What a silly waste of time this is, on a site that is supposed to be user moderated.

    Did techdirt hire a new Director of Approved Wording??

    Is anyone else out there in techdirt poster-land having these problems with the censor bot??

    Redirection to "The Page Cannot Be Displayed" pages, during post previews?

    Techdirt daily not showing up in email for a couple days??

    Editor wonking out and replacing <> and "" type characters with weird alternate character shit?

    Just curious.

    ----

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Adam, 28 Jun 2016 @ 9:09am

    Case was voluntarily dismissed in February when the plaintiffs didn't pay the lawyer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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