On April 7, 2015, Human Rights Watch ("HRW"), a non-partisan, non-profit human rights organization, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiff sued under the Administrative Procedures Act against the Drug Enforcement Administration and the ...
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On April 7, 2015, Human Rights Watch ("HRW"), a non-partisan, non-profit human rights organization, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiff sued under the Administrative Procedures Act against the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The plaintiff, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief claiming that a mass surveillance program conducted by the DEA violated the HRW and its staff's First Amendment free speech and free association rights as well as their Fourth Amendment right to be free unreasonable searches and seizures.
Specifically, HRW alleged that the DEA had been engaged in a secret mass surveillance program since as early as the 1990s. HRW noted that the DEA acknowledged the existence of this program in a declaration filed in January 2015 for a separate case (included as an exhibit in HRW's complaint). According to HRW, the surveillance program indiscriminately swept in call records for calls between the United States and "Designated Countries" that are "determined to have a 'demonstrated nexus to international drug trafficking and related criminal activities.' " HRW alleged that these call records were recorded in databases, which were then made accessible to the officers and employees of the DEA, DHS, and FBI. HRW claimed that during the course of its work, it communicated with individuals in Designated Countries, and that the surveillance program put HRW's contacts at risk and burdened HRW's human rights advocacy efforts. HRW alleged that the defendants violated its First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights, and requested declaratory and injunctive relief and reasonable attorneys' fees.
On June 15, 2015, the defendants, represented by an attorney from the Department of Justice, moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that HRW failed to establish that it has standing to pursue its claims. On August 14, 2015, U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez issued an order holding in abeyance ruling on the defendants' motion. Judge Gutierrez determined that HRW should be allowed an opportunity to conduct discovery to respond to the defendants' attack on standing, and authorized HRW to serve a limited number of interrogatories on the defendants by September 11, 2015, with responses from the defendants due October 13, 2015.
This case is still ongoing in the District Court.John He - 09/26/2015