In December 2005, the New York Times broke the story that, for more than four years, the NSA had engaged in a widespread program of warrantless electronic surveillance of telephone calls and emails, with the approval of President Bush and in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). FISA explicitly authorizes electronic surveillance for the purposes of collecting foreign intelligence only upon the order of federal judges on a special, FISA court and authorizes warrantless wiretapping for only the first fifteen days of a war. Wiretapping without specific, statutory authority is explicitly criminalized. President Bush never sought to amend the statute; he simply violated it by authorizing warrantless wiretapping of Americans without statutory authority or court approval.
CCR filed CCR v. Bush (later, CCR v. Obama) in the Southern District of New York, on behalf of itself and on behalf of CCR attorneys and legal staff representing clients who fit the criteria described by the Attorney General for targeting under the surveillance program.