Federal Judge Rules NSA Phone Program Possibly Unconstitutional

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

In response to a lawsuit filed by an activist in June against the NSA’s massive collection of private phone data, a federal judge ruled that the program is possibly a violation of the Fourth Amendment but fell short of ordering the program shut down.

udge Richard Leon declared that the mass collection of so-called metadata probably violates the fourth amendment, relating to unreasonable searches and seizures, and is “almost Orwellian” in its scope.

He also expressed doubt about the central rationale for the program cited by the NSA: that it is necessary for preventing terrorist attacks. “The government does not cite a single case in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent terrorist attack,” wrote Leon, a US district judge in the District of Columbia. [..]

Leon, an appointee of George W Bush, granted a preliminary injunction sought by plaintiffs Larry Klayman and Charles Strange, concluding that their constitutional challenge was likely to be successful. In what was the only comfort to the NSA in a stinging judgment, he put the ruling on hold, pending an appeal by the government.

But Leon’s opinion contained stern and repeated warnings that he was inclined to rule that the metadata collection performed by the NSA – and defended vigorously by the NSA director Keith Alexander on CBS on Sunday night – was unconstitutional.

D.C. District Court NSA Opinion

Glenn Greenwald weighed in on this on MSNBC’s 4 PM program and there was a discussion with a former Obama administration DOJ lawyer and a spokesperson for the ACLU. If the video becomes available, I’ll add it.


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  1. Let us be clear. No matter what you think of Snowden, or Glenn Greenwald, and no matter what you think of what they did, this ruling does not happen if the NSA doesn’t let a contractor walk out of the joint with the family jewels on a flash drive. This ruling does not happen if we do not know what we now know, and we don’t know any of that unless Snowden gathers the data and leaks it to the Guardian. This entire country was founded after a revolution that was touched off to a great extent by the concept of individual privacy….

    Here he cites James Otis and the Writs of Assistance which is well worth reading and then completes his post with this:

    Judge Richard Leon — an appointee of C-Plus Augustus, who nonetheless whacked his patron around on Guantanamo Bay — has now said that the concept exists no matter what technologies are devised to overcome it. Quite simply, there is no more important debate to be had on the historical nature of what an American is. It comes to us from our very beginnings. Privacy is central to who we were, and to who we are, as a democratic self-governing people If it is obsolete then, frankly, so are we.


  2. May be in the video. Listening now.

    But heard someone say essentially “If King George III had had this technology the NSA is using now, the Declaration of Independence would have never been written and signed. All of the signers would have been rounded up and executed.”

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