Courts say NSA did cross the line

Merry Christmas, (And up Yours ACLU!), the courts have given Americans a little Christmas present. Granted, it’s not a great present, but it is a start. A Federal Judge has awakened from his Eggnog induced coma and looked at the 4th Amendment and what the NSA is actually doing.

Guess what? He wasn’t very happy with what he saw. Here are a few details from Politico:

A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency program which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States is likely unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the program appears to violate the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. He also said the Justice Department had failed to demonstrate that collecting the information had helped to head off terrorist attacks.

The NSA and all the other alphabet soup of intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been lying through their teeth about stopping terrorist attacks. What little evidence they provided to prove their statements was generally proven to be bogus in short order. So, what brought about this decision? Who did the courts finally say had “Standing” to sue at long last? According to another Politico story:

On June 6, just a day after the Guardian report, Klayman filed suit in Washington on his own behalf and on behalf of two clients — Charles and Mary Ann Strange, parents of a Navy SEAL killed in a disastrous helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2011.

The suit led to a Nov. 18 hearing in front of Leon. Some reporters showed up expecting a perfunctory court session peppered with some outlandish claims by the always-colorful Klayman. Indeed, there were plenty of those. Klayman said he and Charles Strange were being targeted by the government because of their claims relating to Strange’s son’s death, which include a complaint that a Muslim imam cursed the dead SEAL team members during a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base.

“My colleagues have received text messages I never sent,” Klayman told the judge. “I think they’re messing with me,” he said, referring to the government.

And that is where the standing to bring suit against the United State Government for willfully violating the constitutional rights of its citizens appeared.

Now I have no idea if Klayman’s statement that his email and text messages were being altered. It is certainly within the ability of the NSA do do it. If Klayman was able to provide evidence that this actually occurred, then it’s going to be time to order more popcorn and beer for this show. Getting back to what the judge said and what happened next:

Leon issued a preliminary injunction barring the NSA from collecting so-called metadata pertaining to the Verizon accounts of Klayman and one of his clients. However, the judge stayed the order to allow for an appeal.

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 for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval,” wrote Leon, an appointee of President George W. Bush.

Ouch! That’s going to leave marks!

Leon’s 68-page opinion is the first significant legal setback for the NSA’s surveillance program since it was disclosed in June in news stories based on leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. For seven years, the metadata program has been approved repeatedly by numerous judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and found constitutional by at least one judge sitting in a criminal case.

Now I’ve commented on the FISA court several times in the past12. I’ve referred to them, along with many other people, as nothing more then a blatantly unconstitutional, rubber stamp wielding judges who preside over what amounts to a Star Chamber courtroom3. As far as I’m concerned, the FISA judges should be impeached from the bench and disbarred. But that’s just me. As we know now, the FISA judges were quite happy to allow any reasoning supplied to them by the NSA lawyers.

stamp rubber approved

The Justice Department persuaded those courts that the collection of information on the time and length of calls, as well as the numbers called, did not amount to a search under the Fourth Amendment because that information is routinely available to telephone companies for billing purposes and is shared with those firms voluntarily.

One small problem with that theory. The phone companies don’t want to hold onto that data any longer then then need to and only use it for billing purposes. They weren’t using it to see where people were going, weren’t interested in who they called or texted.

Government lawyers and the judges who found the NSA program legal pointed to a 1979 Supreme Court ruling, Smith v. Maryland, which found no search warrant was needed by police to install a device which recorded the numbers dialed on a particular phone line.

But Leon said the three-decade-old precedent was not applicable to a program like the NSA’s because of its sophistication and because telephone use has become far more intense in recent years.

“The ubiquity of phones has dramatically altered the quantity of information that is now available and, more importantly, what that information can tell the Government about people’s lives,” the judge wrote. “I cannot possibly navigate these uncharted Fourth Amendment waters using as my North Star a case that predates the rise of cell phones.”

In 1979 the cell phone didn’t exist except as a gleam in the eye of the phone companies. There was no infrastructure to support it. The original ruling from the Supreme Court, (And I’ll let others debate the right or wrong of that one), was based on the POTS4 system then in use.

With the advent of the Cellular phone system and more recently the introduction of the “Smartphone,” the NSA and Law enforcement at all levels had access to more data and information then anyone could have dreamed of 25 years ago.

The judge went on to conclude that the searches involved in the NSA metadata program were likely not permissible under the Fourth Amendment in part because there was little evidence the program has actually prevented terrorism.

“I have significant doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism,” Leon wrote. “The government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature.”

The reason the Government can’t cite any instances of attacks being stopped is simple. None have. There is also the problem that the current administration will not admit that there are any terrorist attacks that have occurred in the United States, even though a number have happened.5 The ones that WERE stopped turned out to have been initiated by the FBI in what might have been entrapment cases. (They found someone making a lot of noise and provided them the means to actually try and do something when they might have just continued making noise)

shooting fish in a barrel

Now that the dam has been blown so to speak, other judges are also taking a skeptical view of the Government’s claims and what the FISA court has been allowing. According to US News, another federal judge is asking some tough questions.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union appeared in U.S. District Court Friday to argue for a preliminary injunction that would halt the National Security Agency’s collection of all Americans’ phone records. Judge William Pauley did not set a time frame for when he might announce his decision – but as he reviews the case, NSA opponents may have cause for optimism. ACLU legal fellow Brett Max Kaufman, one of the attorneys in court for the hearing, said Pauley seemed skeptical of the government’s reliance on the Supreme Court’s 1979 Smith v. Maryland decision.

Judges don’t live in a vacuum, and they know what’s been going on since Snowden blew the roof off the NSA’s domestic spying project. Ever since it came out just how much the NSA and other agencies had been snarfing up, and the appearance that some of this data was handed over to the Justice department for their own use, people have been getting angrier and angrier. The blundering incompetence of the Obama regime, the outright lying by members of the Intelligence community, both to Congress and the American people, not to mention the utter contempt for the Constitution by members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees now has more and more people thinking that a general housecleaning in Washington is needed. Hopefully, when these cases arrive at the Supreme Court, and they will, the justices will finally begin to understand the levels of anger building out here in Flyover Country and recall that their primary duty is to protect the rights of the American People and NOT to give the government whatever it wants.

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quill


~The Angry Webmaster~

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Klayman: ‘We hit the mother lode’ | Irascible Musings

However, in winning the ruling Monday from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington, the eccentric Klayman and his often comically shoestring conservative organization Freedom Watch effectively beat to the punch — and the … Klayman implored the judge to rule against the NSA program not only on legal grounds but to avert what the conservative gadfly said was a violent revolution on the verge of breaking out due to the federal government’s unbridled use of power. — Tue, 17 Dec 2013 10:34:26 -0800
The judge is only ruling on petitioners’ requests for an injunction against the NSA continuing to gather metadata about their telephone calls as part of their Bulk Telephony Metadata Program. Judge Leon further rules that the NSA must destroy … — Tue, 17 Dec 2013 10:01:00 -0800
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled in a lawsuit brought by conservative activist Larry Klayman that the legal challenge to the massive surveillance program — disclosed in full earlier this year by former NSA contractor Edward … — Tue, 17 Dec 2013 09:30:00 -0800
This is the first significant legal setback for the NSA’s surveillance program since Edward Snowden exposed it. Via Politico, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the program appears to run afoul of the Fourth Amendment … — Tue, 17 Dec 2013 09:23:00 -0800

NSA meta-data collection unconstitutional, court rules | The Penn …

NSA meta-data collection unconstitutional, court rules. Posted at 1:16 on December 17, 2013 by Myrddin. A federal court ruling that an NSA wiretap program is unconstitutional has huge implications. — Tue, 17 Dec 2013 09:16:55 -0800

Judge’s word on NSA program won’t be the last – The Seattle Times

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon put his decision to grant an injunction against the NSA on ice, predicting a government appeal would take at least six months. He said he was staying the ruling pending appeal “in light of the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues.” Even after the appeals court rules, the Supreme Court will probably have the last word. “This is the opening salvo in a very long story, but it’s important … — Tue, 17 Dec 2013 09:12:00 -0800

NSA Court Decision Gets The NMA Treatment | WebProNews

… but it doesn’t actually put an end to the NSA’s surveillance program. We’ll have to wait until the case goes to the Appeals Court. … While this ruling doesn’t really mean anything for now, it’s still a symbolic victory for the people who have been fighting against the NSA’s surveillance powers for years now. Those same people might have another victory on their hands later this … Top Smartphones: Which Phone Rules The Roost? Some Phones Did Pretty Well This Year. 6 Comments. — Tue, 17 Dec 2013 08:53:21 -0800

Judge rules against NSA on phones | KnowAllBest

US District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington has given a preliminary injunction sought by plaintiffs Larry Klayman and Charles Strange, deciding they certainly were likely to prevail in their constitutional challenge. Judge Leon decided … — Tue, 17 Dec 2013 08:31:34 -0800
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