The federal government is striking back against Connecticut’s Department of Public Utility Control for its decision to help the American Civil Liberties Union seek information from AT&T and Verizon on the National Security Administration’s warrantless wiretaps. Filed in U.S. District Court in Hartford on Sept. 7, the United States’ lawsuit refuses to admit the wiretaps even existed, though the president talked about it on national TV that same day.
Prompted by this USA Today article, the ACLU filed a complaint with the DPUC in May to find out if the two telecommunications companies and their affiliates participated in the government’s warrantless wiretaps. Click here to read the ACLU’s initial complaint. In August, the DPUC ordered the phone companies to respond to the ACLU’s interrogatories. Now the feds have sued both the DPUC and the phone companies, claiming the state has no right to the information and the phone companies may not release it. “Federal law also makes it a felony for any person to divulge classified information ‘concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States’ to any person who has not been authorized by the President, or his lawful designee, to receive such information,” the lawsuit states. “In addition, the courts have developed several doctrines that are relevant to this dispute and that establish the supremacy of federal law with respect to national security information and intelligence gathering.“According to the lawsuit since January 2006 more than 30 class action lawsuits have been filed alleging telecommunication companies have unlawfully provided assistance to the National Security Administration.