Meet Larry Klayman: Man Behind the NSA Lawsuit

Klayman challenged the legality of the NSA's authority, and won.

ByABC News
December 19, 2013, 1:58 PM
Larry Klayman speaks in Melbourne, Fla., May 6, 2004.
Larry Klayman speaks in Melbourne, Fla., May 6, 2004.
Peter Cosgrove/AP Photo

Dec. 19, 2013— -- Name: Larry Klayman

Age: 62

Occupation: Founder of Freedom Watch and Judicial Watch as well as a World New Daily columnist

Claim to fame: As the former head of Judicial Watch, Klayman may be best known for filing numerous lawsuits against the Clinton Administration during the 1990s – especially while the Monica Lewinsky scandal was unfolding. In 1998, Newsweek wrote an article that claimed Klayman had once sued his mother - information that he says was given to the magazine by the Clinton administration. Klayman, a big proponent of the Tea Party and its ideals, has in the past questioned President Obama's assertions that he was born in the United States. Now, however, Klayman is back in the public eye as the man who challenged in court the legality of the NSA's authority to keep and store the metadata of American citizens – and won.

ABC News spoke with Klayman about the recent NSA ruling and his other famous lawsuits. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

ABC News: What are your thoughts on the ruling?

Klayman: "The real victory is to the American people who have developed a deep distrust in their government. This is the biggest violation of constitutional rights in American history. It has more than a chilling effect on free speech. We're very gratified that this judge did the courageous thing and stuck his neck out and in my view he's an American hero. I think it will go to the Supreme Court and I'm confident that we'll win. You can't have the metadata of over 300 million Americans and say that's a difficult issue to decide. Metadata is even more intrusive than listening to content in some ways."

ABC News: What NSA reforms do you think are needed?

Klayman: "We're asking the court in our case to do very strict monitoring…to make sure that this is not happening, will not happen again. We didn't challenge the constitutionality of the Patriot Act or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act…we intend to raise that with the court. I believe those acts are unconstitutional."

ABC News: Do you still believe President Obama is not by birth an American citizen?

Klayman: "His birth certificate that he put forward is a fraud. We've had experts look at it. He did not have two American citizen parents by his own admission. Just for the same reason that Rubio is out and Cruz is out and John McCain – people thought that he didn't qualify for that reason either. See that's why the Republicans don't want to challenge it…and no judge wants to touch it so far."

ABC News: Please tell me about the claim out there that you once sued your mother

Klayman: "My grandmother was dying, and my mother…had dementia. My stepfather had undue influence on her and took all my grandmom's money and put a do not resuscitate order on her charts. I had to bring lawsuits to get the do not resuscitate order off her charts and to get her money back so she could afford to be in a nursing home because her insurance had lapsed because my mother…she was with dementia, hadn't followed what was going on. It was essentially a case against my stepfather – not against my mother, but I had to…name my mother because legally she was next of kin. That's what it was about."

ABC News: Do you still think Larry Claypool was a parody of you on The West Wing?

Klayman: "There was no question it was me. If you look at the people that were the writers on the show…DeeDee Myers in the White House, Lawrence O'Donnell – now with MSNBC, and Pat Caddell who's a former Carter pollster. I was flattered by it even though they poked fun at me because we made it into the pop culture."

ABC News: What are your next steps?

Klayman: "We have many lawsuits. We're representing families of SEAL Team Six. We're advocating protests and peaceful nonviolence, civil disobedience, to try to get the government to become responsive to the American people. If Gandhi could do it in India, we could do it here. I will not be deterred by attacks from the left or anyplace else, that actually emboldens me more to do what I think needs to be done."