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  • 4 January 2014, 18:01

NSA Spying: Rand Paul Plans Obama Lawsuit

A Republican Senator says he will take legal action against President Obama for "snooping on the American people," following revelations from Edward Snowden of unlawful spying by the NSA.

Rand Paul is urging anyone in the US with a mobile phone to join the group action which declares the government is not permitted to access the public's emails and phone records without a warrant.

Mr Paul said the purpose of the action is to "protect the Fourth Amendment," the part of the US Constitution which prevents unreasonable searches and seizures.

"The question here is whether or not, constitutionally, you can have a single warrant apply to millions of people," he told Fox News.

"So we thought, what better way to illustrate the point than having hundreds of thousands of Americans sign-up for a class-action suit."

Mr Paul's move comes as a secretive US intelligence court decided the NSA can continue to collect phone data from American citizens for at least another 90 days.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) renewed the NSA surveillance programme on Friday, despite a panel of advisors advising the President Obama that a warrant must be obtained for each search.

US government lawyers have also moved to block a surprise decision by a district judge that ruled the NSA phone records programme was unlawful.

Judge Richard Leon said the NSA's programme was "almost Orwellian," a reference to George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984.

He added there was little evidence the operation had prevented terrorist attacks, a conclusion also reached by the advisory panel to President Obama.

Although Mr Leon ruled against the government, he agreed to postpone shutting down the programme until the government considered whether to appeal.

But despite the Justice Department request to have the decision overturned in the Appeal Court, lawyer Larry Klayman, who brought the action, said he intended to take the case to the Supreme Court.

"There are exigent circumstances here," said Mr Klayman. "We can't allow this situation to continue. The NSA's continuing to spy on everybody."

Judges sitting on the FISC have repeatedly approved the NSA spying programme for 90-day periods and ruled it legal - a position that held strong until Judge Leon's unexpected ruling.

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the NSA would be willing to modify the phone records surveillance programme to provide civil liberties protections, as long as the programme remained operationally beneficial.

He added the Obama administration was carefully evaluating the advisory panel's recent recommendations.

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