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Judge: NSA Phone Program Likely Unconstitutional 345

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-listening dept.
schwit1 writes in with the latest on an U.S. District Court ruling over NSA spying. "A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency's phone surveillance program is likely unconstitutional, Politico reports. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon said that the agency's controversial program, first unveiled by former government contractor Edward Snowden earlier this year, appears to violate the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which states that the 'right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.' '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,' Leon wrote in the ruling. The federal ruling came down after activist Larry Klayman filed a lawsuit in June over the program. The suit claimed that the NSA's surveillance 'violates the U.S. Constitution and also federal laws, including, but not limited to, the outrageous breach of privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the due process rights of American citizens.'"
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Judge: NSA Phone Program Likely Unconstitutional

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  • Re:About time (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Monday December 16, 2013 @05:20PM (#45707861) Homepage Journal

    The problem with knee-jerk assessments, which most people are operating under (Fourth Amendment, unreasonable search and seizure) is that there are all sorts of vague bits of the constitution and other amendments which leave wiggle room for things which fall under "National Security" and have done for a long time.

    There's this comical belief that Congress should have the ability to approve of War Powers, which the constitution clearly states are those powers reserved to the President. Which is a way of saying, what you think it should be and how it is is not always clear cut. There's always the possibility of a Split decision by the Supreme Court, where an opinion of the court states that in the time of war, or potential war, the Executive Branch may be delegated certain abilities. Defining when hostile threats are likely or not, that's not the purview of the court.

    It will certainly, no matter how it is ruled, be interesting reading.

  • from TFA.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @05:22PM (#45707887)

    "But in his a 68-page, heavily footnoted opinion, Leon concluded that the government didn't cite a single instance in which the program 'actually stopped an imminent terrorist attack.'"'

    Who wants to bet there'd be a false flag coming soon, that the gov't miraculously stops via this very program? Hrmmmm...

  • What is the Limit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mugnyte (203225) on Monday December 16, 2013 @05:52PM (#45708235) Journal

    If not this phase of technology used for National Security, there will be some other. In any case, what level of technology use by the government is safe or allowed? I suspect this issue/case is just one of a myriad of ongoing decisions to balance the use of technology for crime/safety while letting everyone (at least) feel like their privacy is respected.

    [it doesn't take much to envision a stability to just-appearing technology so that they become applicable in many potentially intrusive ways...drones hovering above public places using instant facial recognition to identify any person-of-interest, without need to publish why interest arose...infra-red cameras on streetlights to track who is in each home and when...ubiquitous vehicle-tracking, engine-disabling technology to capture any suspect in a vehicle...100% person-presence tracking]

    The technology is going to be everywhere, and it's understanding by the general populace is shrinking. The technocrats will provide the tools for the aristocrats and both will try to balance between appeasement and revolution by the rest of society. Choosing to avoid technology now will only handicap you. Some as-yet-unknown sci-fi authors will be heralded as prophets.

  • Re:About time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday December 16, 2013 @06:00PM (#45708321) Journal


    Oh aren't you adorable. Since when has even a significant percentage of "everybody" cared about adherence to the Constitution? The reality, if you actually talk to people, is that the vast majority of Americans would applaud SCOTUS for helping keep us safe from terrorists.

    Look... SCOTUS is a branch of the Federal government, just like the other two. It is not immune from image problems (especially in recent years, when it has demonstrably failed to do its job again and again and again).

    Image problems, no. If a SCOTUS justice embarassed the government, say by pulling a Rob Ford, he'd be impeached no problem. But no SCOTUS justice will ever be impeached for rubberstamping policies approved by both other branches of the government, even if they are blatantly unconstitutional.

    They just could not get away with that ruling, because everybody knows that it would be a lie.

    Both the President and Congress are perfectly happy living with that lie. The American people are too divided by party politics to even notice that they are being conspired against by both parties. SCOTUS would absolutely get away with that ruling.

    And just in case you hadn't read your Constitution lately: SCOTUS judges are not "appointed for life." They are appointed during "good behavior". If they exhibit something that is not "good behavior" (as such a ruling would be), they CAN be removed from office.

    And who is going to do that? The same Congress that has failed to censure James Clapper for perjury?

  • Re:About time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bartles (1198017) on Monday December 16, 2013 @06:46PM (#45708837)
    And it was reauthorized again in 2011, signed into law in the middle of the night by the current President.
  • Re:About time (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @06:55PM (#45708953)

    Data mining was just used to capture a large Food Stamp fraud ring in Florida. There really are public benefits to allowing snooping in depth. My main concern is that we could arrest so many criminals that we have no way to deal with them all. Income tax cheaters really could be destroyed by data mining. You can bet we have a couple of million people who are tax cheats. Imagine the effects of seizing their homes, cars, boats and chucking them into a prison cell. Are we at the point at which we can not afford justice?

  • The other problem... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @07:28PM (#45709353)

    Even if every politician saw things the way you and I do, and the NSA were completely defunded tomorrow, we would still have a huge problem. The NSA is made up of smart, highly-connected people who, as we now know, have very little concern for law or justice. The NSA needs to be dismantled as slowly and carefully as it was built, or it'll just turn into a mafia like the KGB did.

  • Re: About time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icebike (68054) on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:56PM (#45710511)

    Guess you missed the veto proof majority vote part. But that won't stop the "any opportunity to blame Obama" thing.

    Seriously, a presidential veto on a subject like this would only be overridden if it were a pre-arranged "sweetheart deal".
    Had Bush or Obama had the balls to stand up and say NO, I won't sign it, their party loyalists would follow suit.

    Veto proof majority is only veto proof up to the point of calling for the vote to over ride it. From then on, all bets are off.

    The truth of the matter is that the administration(s) pulled out all the stops to force approval of these ridiculous laws, twisting arms, making promises, and spinning boogie-man under the bed stories. If the administration suddenly changes course, the flock would follow in lock step.

    It was never veto proof. That's total fiction.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]