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FISA Court Reverses Order To Destroy NSA Phone Data 59

Posted by timothy
from the rule-of-men-and-not-of-law dept.
itwbennett writes "The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has temporarily reversed its earlier order that call records collected by the National Security Agency should be destroyed after the current five-year limit. The court modified its stand after a District Court in California on Monday ordered the government to retain phone records it collects in bulk from telecommunications carriers, as the metadata could be required as evidence in two civil lawsuits that challenge the NSA's phone records program under section 215 of the Patriot Act."
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FISA Court Reverses Order To Destroy NSA Phone Data

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  • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @03:42PM (#46476931) Homepage Journal

    ... to prove we're not abusing it. Yeah, that's the ticket.

    (No, this seems like a possibly reasonable decision, for normal courtish type reasons)

    • by TWX (665546)
      I think George Lucas had a plot kind of like this in some of his movies... complete with letting the hate flow through [us].
    • ... to prove we're not abusing it. Yeah, that's the ticket.

      (No, this seems like a possibly reasonable decision, for normal courtish type reasons)

      The legal reasoning is actually the opposite of what you're thinking.

      The anti-NSA-lawyers are in a really tough spot. They have to prove the database is a net harm to America, which means they have to be able to prove that it does more harm then good. If they don;t have access to the data, and some NSA guy claims that OJ Simpson would have been able to flee to Botswana if only that one call to a travel agent hadn't been in the database, they are totally fucked.

    • by flyneye (84093)

      Oh who can believe a damn thing?
      If they say they will, they wont
      If they say they do, they dont
      If they say they arent , they are
      Round em all up, drop them in the middle of the ocean and tell them to swim back.
      I got no use for fucking liars.You?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just use some shell corporations to keep suing every few years and keep the data forever.

  • Handy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by s.petry (762400) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @03:42PM (#46476941)
    FISA claims it's to hold for court purposes, but the NSA can still search this data while they hold it. So it suits at least one purpose which I'm sure we agree with, but should have come with a very specific instruction like "knock off the bullshit, you treasonous bastards!".
    • by geekoid (135745)

      They aren't treasonous. Do you even know what that word means?

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by outlaw (59202)

        You seem to only recall on of the possible definitions (granted the most common, and the one the government would like to use against whistleblowers):

        From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) [wn]:

        treason
        n 1: a crime that undermines the offender's government [syn:
        {treason}, {high treason}, {lese majesty}]
        2: disloyalty by virtue of subversive beh

        • by outlaw (59202)

          Bouvier's Law Dictionary, of course, only has the 1st definition, in somewhat more detail

        • Of course by definition 3, Snowden is treasonous, because he betrayed his agreement to not snitch on the NSA.

          There's a very good reason that anybody who accuses him of being a traitor gets introduced to the legal definition that actually matters in the US: the one in the Constitution.

      • They'd be considered treasonous if we had a sane legal definition of the word.

        • by s.petry (762400)
          We have one, but need a court to hear the case and an attorney with enough power to get the case to court. The latter is the problem, not the former.
      • by sjames (1099)

        The terrorists are our enemy. The terrorists want to destroy our freedom. The NSA and FISA are destroying our freedom. NSA and FISA are lending aid and comfort to our enemy. So, finally, the NSA and FISA are committing treason.

        It's at least as good as the sophistry that allowed torture at Gitmo.

      • Re:Handy (Score:4, Informative)

        by s.petry (762400) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:12PM (#46477335)

        I do know what the word means, do you know what both the NSA and FISA courts have been doing which compromises the integrity of our Democratic Republic form of Government? You do not see how smear campaigns based on illegally obtained information breaks the Democracy?

        Yes they are treasonous, do some homework.

        People are not mad about the NSA investigating Iran's centrifuges they are mad at how the NSA is abusing powers to spy on everyone in the world, and sell data which reduces liberty and democracy world wide. They are mad about FISA courts becoming a rubber stamp organization for this agency to abuse it's powers.

        • I do know what the word means, do you know what both the NSA and FISA courts have been doing which compromises the integrity of our Democratic Republic form of Government? You do not see how smear campaigns based on illegally obtained information breaks the Democracy?

          Yes they are treasonous, do some homework.

          From TFC (The F**king Constitution):

          Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be

          • by s.petry (762400)

            Finding two witnesses is a simple task. Start with the whistle blowers and work your way out. Of course they will need to declassify data in order for us to have "proof" of their wrong doing, but that's a court issue not a Constitutional issue.

            As to the NSA declaring war on America lets run down a list. If they have been planting malware on computers in the US they have waged war against their own country and destroyed property of US citizens. If they have spied on Americans against the 4th amendment th

          • I think that turning the USA into a nation of fear, undermining basic constitutional rights can reasonably be considered giving aid and comfort to our enemies. For it erodes the reasons why so much of the world looked to us, instead of them.

            I think that destroying the reputation of the USA as a bastion of freedom and morality, where torture was not condoned and imprisonment could only be done within the constraints of the law gave aid and comfort - and outright joy - to our enemies.

            So even within the USA le

            • By this standard Snowden is also guilty of treason. He didn't protect US Democracy at all when he revealed the NSA and Aussies were spying on Australia. But he did certainly make it harder for the Indonesians to ally with us.

              Of course that's ridiculous, which is why historically you have to be either actually shooting at the US, or supplying info to people actually shooting at the US, to count; and nobody involved in the NSA leaks has been doing that.

        • Re-read the Constitution. It's only about democracy in the wet dreams of particularly stupid high school civics teachers.

          It specifically allows slavery, even tho it's too cowardly to use the word. It even gives slave-holding states extra votes in Congress. There is no right to vote. The Constitution was adopted partly because the preceding Articles of Confederation hadn't created a strong enough government to ethnically cleanse Ohio of Indians properly.

          I'll admit that it turned into a fairly democratic, and

          • by s.petry (762400)

            The US has never been a Democracy, it's been a Democratic Republic. A Republic closely matching the definition in the book by the same name authored by Plato in ancient Greece over 2,500 years ago. If you wish to appear pedantic at least do so correctly. Study the book, it's pretty amazing how close we got until the government was successfully undermined. Socrates describes human nature in that book too. Reading that book is discouraged and the knowledge it contains is not well known. Most people don'

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Do you even know what that word means?

        Aiding and abetting foreign government agents such as GCHQ in committing acts of war such as espionage against the States and its citizens?

        Committing acts of war such as espionage against the States and its citizens?

        All that is missing are two witnesses...

        • by Cenan (1892902)

          You're only actually missing one witness, the other is just stuck in Russia due to an invalidated passport.

      • They aren't treasonous. Do you even know what that word means?

        Sure - a traitor is someone who either aids and abets enemies of America, or one who declares war on the same.

        Per the Constitution, "America" is defined by her people, so you can equate "enemies of America" to "enemies of the American people."

        As the NSA is routinely violating the civil liberties of American citizens, with impunity, they are de facto enemies of the American people, and thus, they and anyone who assists them are traitors. Same goes for the "War on Drugs" folks, albeit due to the other kind of

        • If you ever find yourself up on charges before a court, I have a piece of advice for you: get a lawyer, a real lawyer. One that understands the law.

          • Yeah, but by "the law" here, you just mean whatever the sleaze currently in power care to pretend it is at the moment.
            • That is an interesting notion you have there. Feel free to ignore my advice. Let us know how it turns out.

              • Irrelevant. You're conflating the law with what actually happens in court rooms and the like. They're two different things. The fact (de facto) of how those in power act isn't the law (de jure). Corruption doesn't rewrite law it finds inconvenient by merely existing. They just ignore it and lie.
                • Your distaste for acknowledging the existence of written law and precedent doesn't render it nonexistent. Facts are stubborn things.

          • If I ever find myself charged with treason, I think I'll have bigger concerns than my choice of representation.

            Like applying for asylum.

            BTW, snide remarks don't really provide a counterpoint to my statements or reasoning.

    • Re:Handy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Krishnoid (984597) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:30PM (#46477517) Journal

      FISA claims it's to hold for court purposes, but the NSA can still search this data while they hold it.

      I would think that holding this data:

      • works against the NSA, as its surveillance utility decreases as a function of time,
      • works for the litigants, as long as it contains evidence against the defendants usable within the statute of limitations for any wrongdoing it reveals.
    • Re:Handy (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcl630 (1839996) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:56PM (#46477823)

      From TFA:

      The data preserved beyond five years cannot be accessed by NSA intelligence analysts for any purpose, and can only be accessed by technical personnel for ensuring continued compliance with the government's preservation obligations, Judge Walton wrote in his revised order.

      So no, they can't search it, at least not without running afoul of the FISA court's order (not that that has stopped them before).

      • by s.petry (762400)
        Well stated. If the judge told them to put it on an encrypted device where they didn't have the keys I'd feel much better.
    • The original FISA ruling was "because the court you're being sued in has NOT ordered you to keep them, that suit isn't justification to keep them".

      Then, the federal district court did in fact order them to preserve the evidence. That's a fact, not a claim.

      So FISA, consistent with its earlier order, now said "because the district court has ordered you to keep them, you should now do so."

      There's no "claims" to it, the federal district court entered an order in open court. That order was discussed here on Sla

  • nothing to see here.

  • by the_skywise (189793) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:00PM (#46477217)

    Couldn't we just keep metadata of the metadata records? Wouldn't that be evidence enough of criminal intent? No no... we have to keep ALL the actual records (and recordings I bet) for uh... the Presidential Libraries... Both of them (for now)...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'll have some of what you're smoking. That paranoia sounds amazing

      • by Anonymous Coward

        the government collects call data of every american citizen, and you think he's being paranoid?

        lol.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Not only that, it has already been demonstrated that the data collected has been abused from it's intended purpose. Those crying "paranoid" are very strangely, now, the delusional ones.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      From my understanding they actually do:

      1) FISC stated that "No, NSA, you are not allowed to hold data longer than 5 years, just in case you get sued."
      2) Other court says, "NSA, you must hold this data, until you are finished being sued."
      3) FISC says, "Yes, since you are actually being sued, and were served with a 'No destruct' notice, you must comply with that notice."

      Officially, it seems that FISC is saying that absent a valid 'no destruct' notice, the records must be purged if they are 5 years old or more

    • Read the summary.

      The FISA Court sided with you in ordering the data destroyed. But that really screws up the lawsuit against the NSA because if the data's destroyed it's trivial for the NSA to lie about how useful it was. You can't really prove that cell phone metadata wasn't a key factor in the capture of Criminal X if the metadata has all been deleted.

      So the district court ordered the NSA to keep the data, and the FISA Court said that's okay as long as they don't look at it.

      • by dcollins (135727)

        You miss my point. It's the exact same argument that the NSA put forth a week ago that FISA shot down at that time. If a lawsuit was determinative this week, then it should have been last week as well. The argument of why didn't change, yet FISA flip-flopped when it happened in practice.

        • You miss my point. It's the exact same argument that the NSA put forth a week ago that FISA shot down at that time. If a lawsuit was determinative this week, then it should have been last week as well. The argument of why didn't change, yet FISA flip-flopped when it happened in practice.

          The difference is that instead of government lawyers making the point, it was their fellow judges. When a lawyer tells you you really should do what his clients always wanted because that'll hurt said clients you're not supposed to believe him.

          When a Judge says the same thing you're legally required to believe him.

          • by dcollins (135727)

            "When a Judge says the same thing you're legally required to believe him."

            Unless they're a higher-level judge. Like the FISA court with its earlier ruling..

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We herd u like NSA data retention, so we put NSA data in ur retention so u can retention while u NSA data.

    Werd

    From:

    Ur homeys keepin' it realz, watchin' out for our homeys in the TLAs what help keep us in control and rope-a-doping the US public to think they free, livin large @ All 3 branches of the Federal government.

  • A kickstarter to bribe these judges more than the NSA such that they actually protect the constitution!!

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