ACLU sues US for details of Executive Order 12333

Participants demonstrate in support of former NSA employee Edward Snowden at a protest march against the electronic surveillance tactics of the NSA on July 27, 2013 in Berlin.
Sean Gallup

The American Civil Liberties Union brought a lawsuit against the NSA, CIA, Defense Department, Justice Department and the State Department on Monday, in an effort to force the government to make public information on foreign electronic surveillance.

Filed in the US District Court in New York, the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit centers on Executive Order 12333 (signed by Reagan in 1981), which governs surveillance of foreign targets, "even when that surveillance sweeps up Americans' communications," according to the ACLU.

In their complaint, the ACLU worded the case - which is clearly linked to the NSA revelations supplied by Edward Snowdedn - this way:

"Although EO 12,333 permits the government to target foreigners abroad for surveillance, recent revelations have confirmed that the government interprets that authority to permit sweeping monitoring of Americans' international communications."

"This FOIA request seeks, in part, to determine what protections are afforded to those US persons and whether those protections are consistent with the Constitution," the ACLU said.

The Justice Department did not respond to Reuters request for comment. A government spokeswomen did not provide the Associated Press with immediate comment.

"How the government conducts this surveillance, and whether it appropriately accommodates the constitutional rights of American citizens and residents whose communications are intercepted in the course of that surveillance, are matters of great public significance and concern," the lawsuit said.