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Klayman: Court Ruling on NSA Like 'Nuking a Missile'

Image: Klayman: Court Ruling on NSA Like 'Nuking a Missile'

Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 01:26 PM

By Lisa Barron


Larry Klayman, the longtime legal activist who won a court ruling that the National Security Agency's surveillance program was constitutionally flawed, says his victory is like "nuking a missile."

Shortly after U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon's ruling Monday, Klayman told The New York Times that it validated all of his prior attempts to challenge the government over alleged transgressions and wrongdoings.

"It's a little like a MIRV nuking a missile," he said, referring to a weapon with several warheads. "If only one in 10 gets through, you've accomplished something. You've got to keep punching."

The man who has been called "Litigious Larry" is already well-known in the nation's capital, having filed several lawsuits against President Bill Clinton and his administration in the 1990s.

Klayman also founded and then left the conservative interest group Judicial Watch, which he later sued for breach of contract and trademark violations.

"Larry Klayman fights for himself and his own delusions of grandeur," Brad Blakeman, a professor at Georgetown University and a former official in the George W. Bush administration, told the Times. "He's a professional antagonist. He's a bully."

Still, with the latest case swinging in his favor, Klayman found success where several other civil liberties groups have not in their fight against the NSA's surveillance operations, reports Politico.

A 2008 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Amnesty International and others made it to the Supreme Court last year, but the justices threw it out in a 5-4 decision on the basis that the plaintiffs lacked adequate proof their communications had been monitored by the government, Politico noted.

This year's leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency's secret surveillance programs triggered further lawsuits by the ACLU and other organizations in Manhattan and San Francisco.

Klayman also filed suit in Washington, contending that the NSA had overstepped its constitutional authority by systematically tracking and gathering Americans' phone records.

In his 68-page opinion, Leon, using some of Klayman's own language, wrote that he could not "imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary' invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval."

Leon also said he was staying his ruling pending appeal "in light of the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues."

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