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U.S. gov't challenges court ruling on NSA snooping

11 Comments

The U.S. government said Friday it has lodged an appeal against a judge's ruling that the National Security Agency's "almost Orwellian"bulk collection of telephone records is illegal.

Separately, spy chief James Clapper revealed that a secret court had renewed the NSA's authority to gather call "metadata," despite the controversy triggered when the program came to light.

Last year, leaked files from fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA habitually scoops up data on the timing and destination of calls by millions of U.S. phone users.

President Barack Obama's administration has defended the practice, arguing that it helps agents "join the dots" between terror suspects and their contacts.

But civil liberties groups claim the digital dragnet infringes citizens' right to privacy, and on Dec 16 U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon agreed in Washington, branding the practice unconstitutional.

Leon's judgement was stayed pending appeal, however, and another federal judge ruled against a similar complaint in New York, so the government has found room to counterattack.

Director of National Intelligence Clapper said two district courts had ruled in the administration's favor, along with the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which renewed the NSA's authority.

"The Department of Justice has filed an appeal of the lone contrary decision issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia," his office said in a statement.

But he added that the administration was "open to modifications to this program that would provide additional privacy and civil liberty protections while still maintaining its operational benefits."

Obama has ordered and received a review of the NSA's methods and is considering recommendations for reform, although he is not expected to end phone metadata collection.

Leon's ruling last month was scathing.

"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," he said in his opinion.

But on Dec 27, federal Judge William Pauley in New York dismissed a petition from the American Civil Liberties Union and said the NSA needs to track phone data to prevent terror attacks.

The ACLU said it would appeal that decision.

The apparently contradictory rulings make it likely the U.S. Supreme Court will decide on the constitutionality of the NSA programs.

Separately, a civil rights group asked the Supreme Court to review a case challenging the authority of NSA surveillance.

The Center for Constitutional Rights petitioned the Supreme Court, arguing that the Snowden revelations provide new information that should lead the justices to revisit the matter.

"We have always been confident that our communications -- including privileged attorney-client phone calls -- were being unlawfully monitored by the NSA, but Edward Snowden's revelations of a massive, indiscriminate NSA spying program changes the picture," said CCR attorney Shayana Kadidal.

"Federal courts have dismissed surveillance cases, including ours, based on criteria established before Snowden's documents proved that such concerns are obviously well-founded."

Meanwhile, more than 250 academics from around the world signed an online petition this week calling for an end to "blanket mass surveillance" by intelligence agencies.

On Thursday, a report suggested that the NSA is making strides toward building a "quantum computer" that could break nearly any kind of encryption.

The Washington Post said documents leaked by Snowden show the computer would allow the agency to break encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records worldwide.

© (c) 2014 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

11 Comments
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Don't know why there is surprise here. The 1st Amendment has been trashed by this administration, along with the 2nd and 10th, so what's a little 4th Amendment bashing causing a stir for? My surprise is that FINALLY a Federal Judge has stood up for the oath of office, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and done the right thing. So many ACTIVIST Judges now ruling on ideology rather than constitutional law. We need more decisions like this!!

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In his scathing ruling, calling the limitless NSA snooping "almost Orwellian" is actually a massive understatement. The Fourth Amendment makes no exceptions to unreasonable search and seizures, and the lame excuses by various totalitarian statists, Obama included, are unacceptable to anyone with even as little as half a functioning brain.

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Likely this will eventually end up on the Supreme Court. The Washington District Court judged the NSA mass tactic illegal, but then the New York District Court judged that it is legal. When two federal district courts of equal standing result in opposite decisions, it has to be resolved by the Supreme Court. But first, those decisions will have to go through the process of their respective federal court of appeals, but eventually it'll get there. (What if the Supreme Court gives the final say that it is constitutional? There has been other controversial decisions before like Roe v. Wade making abortion legal, so is Obamacare, and of course the powerful Commerce Clause giving a lot of power to the Federal Government.)

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okimike67Jan. 04, 2014 - 09:12AM JST

The 1st Amendment has been trashed by this administration

You may want to do some research to learn who started this surveillance program.

along with the 2nd and 10th

Whoat?? You have totally lost me here. Please link these amendments for this case. I can understand your reasoning for the 10th, but not for the 2nd. Please elaborate further. Thanks.

lostrune2Jan. 04, 2014 - 02:07PM JST

Likely this will eventually end up on the Supreme Court. The Washington District Court judged the NSA mass tactic illegal, but then the New York District Court judged that it is legal

I agree. This will end up at the US Supreme Court. The key is to strike a balance between "Privacy" and "National Security". I bet many legal scholars will be split in decision makings too as well as other judges..

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You may want to do some research to learn who started this surveillance program.

Condemning Obama hardly absolves Bush. I might suggest they share a jail cell, but solitary confinement for both would be more like it, along with a whole slew of their handlers and underlings.

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Go for it ! If it saves innocent lives then do it. Only the people that have something to hide should be worried. Maybe the next attack on usa soil will be much more severe possibly even nuclear. Im all for them monitoring calls, the nsa has no interest in personal matters ...its all about stopping the next threat from happening. Twin towers is big but could be very small if someone detonates something bigger

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Only the people that have something to hide should be worried.

Those willing to sacrifice privacy for security deserve neither.

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Strangerland, right spirit but wrong words. Ben Franklin said " Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Crazedinjapan, what you may not realize is that what US GOV does(particularly Foreign policy) directly endangers its people. And the limitless spying on literally everyone couldn't possibly be more UNamerican(the original meaning).

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Strangerland, right spirit but wrong words. Ben Franklin said " Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Yeah, I didn't feel like looking up the exact quote, which is why I just put up a summation. Thank you for finding the exact wording (and person).

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okimike67Jan. 04, 2014 - 09:12AM JST

Don't know why there is surprise here. The 1st Amendment has been trashed by this administration, along with the 2nd and 10th, so what's a little 4th Amendment bashing causing a stir for? My surprise is that FINALLY a Federal Judge has stood up for the oath of office, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and done the right thing. So many ACTIVIST Judges now ruling on ideology rather than constitutional law. We need more decisions like this!!

Sounds like you cannot respond. So I will make it very clear for you. Our focus on this topic are the 4th Amendment and the 14th.. Obama has been doing a great job for the 1st, 2nd and 10th. A comment like yours is just stirring up the issue and is insulting my intelligence. Please understand the material before posting. Thanks..

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Obama has been doing a great job for the 1st, 2nd and 10th."

Yeah, a great job at obliterating them!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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