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Rand Paul launches class-action lawsuit to end NSA phone spying

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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has filed a lawsuit against President Obama and three top national security officials, seeking an end to what the suit describes as the US government's "mass, suspicionless, non-particularized" collection of data on US residents' phone calls.

"The Bill of Rights protects all citizens from general warrants," Paul said in a statement – a reference to the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which explicitly forbids "unreasonable searches and seizures."

In addition to President Obama, the suit names Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA Director Keith Alexander, and FBI director James Comey, Jr. as codefendants.

Joining Paul as a plaintiff is FreedomWorks, a right-wing pressure group that claims to have "hundreds of thousands of grassroots volunteers nationwide."

The lawsuit is a class-action effort that purports to be on behalf of "All persons afforded protections under the Fourth Amendment who made or received a cellular/wireless or terrestrial/landline telephone call that originated and/or terminated in the United States after May 2006."

The lawsuit seeks not only a declaration that the NSA's mass phone surveillance program is unconstitutional, but also court orders preventing the agencies from conducting similar surveillance and requiring them to destroy any phone metadata they have collected so far.

This is far from the first time that Paul, a member of the Tea Party movement, has clashed with the Obama administration over its policies. His official website urges constituents to send in stories of how their businesses have been impacted by the Affordable Care Act – aka "Obamacare" – and he has been an outspoken critic of the administration's use of drones for assassinations, among other issues.

That this latest effort will be successful, however, seems unlikely. Past attempts to sue the government over its phone surveillance program have yielded no fruit so far, and although judges have differed on the matter, the current prevailing opinion is that the program is legal.

In a press conference announcing the lawsuit on Wednesday, however, Paul was nothing but optimistic. "I expect this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court," he said, "and I predict the American people will win." ®

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