A U.S. judge FINALLY rules NSA phone surveillance program is most likely unlawful


Thought you all might like this…

U.S. judge rules phone surveillance program is likely unlawful

Reuters
December 16, 2013

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government’s gathering of Americans’ phone records is likely unlawful, a judge ruled on Monday and ordered the suspension of the collection of data on two phone company customers who sued the Obama administration.

In a significant challenge to U.S. spying authority, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington D.C. wrote that the government’s program likely violated Americans’ right to be free of unreasonable searches.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen,” Leon wrote, citing earlier court precedent….
….Leon expressed skepticism of the program’s value, writing that the government could not cite a single instance in which the bulk data actually stopped an imminent attack.

“I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism,” he wrote.

That is important, he added, because for the program to be lawful, the government must show its effectiveness outweighs privacy interests.

Have a read.

The displayed banner on the Bloomberg news program’s video reads:

JUDGE: PLAINTIFFS CAN PROBABLY SHOW THAT NSA PHONE SURVEILLANCE VIOLATES 4TH AMENDMENT

No duh.

The 4th Amendment reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and PARTICULARLY describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

[emphasis added]

If this global search doesn’t violate this, then what else could possibly rise to that level of violation?

…”papers, and effects” I take to include emails and phone calls, but it is – as everything – subject to the courts to interpret that.  And I am certain that this has been done long ago.  Legal precedence is out there.

…”searches” certainly would apply in the NSA case.

…”PARTICULARLY” means that they MUST be specific.  Fishing expeditions are thus specifically BANNED.  (read the next post…)

One of the problems that has been in the way of challenging this NSA activity is that some courts have ruled that the plaintiffs have to show that they have actually been “searched” or injured, in order to achieve/acquire what is called “standing” in court – reason for the court to inquire whether just cause to even be in court exists.  That, of course, is patently difficult for the vast majority of us, since the program is classified Top Secret, meaning we have no way of knowing if we have been searched.

These two plaintiffs – including an attorney who is obviously doing his own legal work free – have managed to rise above that hurdle.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the actual Constitution was followed for once?

This isn’t the end of it.  The judge did not force an injunction, supposedly because he expects the government to appeal.  (Huh?)

But one BIG aspect of this is the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, about which the Repugs caused the “Nuclear Option” to occur a few weeks ago.  Obama had three nominees to fill the 11-member court out with.  That court is now balanced 4-4.

The crux of THAT is, of course, to ask if those three are going to bite the Obama hand that feeds them?

One would expect them to be independent middle-of-the-roaders, at the least, and Liberal at best.  But if so, would Obama have even nominated them in the first place?

Stay tuned, violated Americans!

(See next post regarding the 4th Amendment. . . coming momentarily…)

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