In 2006 the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in Detroit against the NSA. They accused the NSA of violating the US constitution by eavesdropping on people without court oversight. The case represented the first legal challenge to the surveillance programme. It sought an immediate end to wiretaps, saying they violate constitutional rights to privacy and free speech.
The ACLU suit included Christopher Hitchens. He said in a full written statement and published on the ACLU website:
"People will say it’s wartime and we have a deadly enemy, and I agree with that. I was in favour of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan very strongly, but it is even more important in such a time that we don’t give away power to the unaccountable agencies that helped get us into this in the first place. It is extremely important we know what the rules are and there has to be a line drawn. You mustn’t turn emergency or panic measures into custom or practice."He also said here, and echoed the bold words above:
"[It is] imperative that we do not take panic or emergency measures in the short term, and then permit them to become institutionalised."
He spoke briefly of the lawsuit in a speech here:
"I am currently a plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU against the National Security Agency, for doing what it knows how to do, which is bug American citizens instead of doing what it appears not to know how to do which is how to predict terrorist attacks in the United States."