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Electronic Frontier Foundation Communications Privacy The Courts United States Your Rights Online

Warrantless Wiretapping Decisions Issued By Ninth Circuit Court 156

sunbird writes "The Ninth Circuit yesterday issued two decisions in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuits against the National Security Agency (Jewel v. NSA) and the telecommunications companies (Hepting v. AT&T). EFF had argued in Hepting that the retroactive immunity passed by Congress was unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit decision (PDF) upholds the immunity and the district court's dismissal of the case. Short of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, this effectively ends the suit against the telecoms. In much better news, the same panel issued a decision (PDF) reversing the dismissal of the lawsuit against the N.S.A. and remanded the case back to the lower court for more proceedings. These cases have been previously discussed here."
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Warrantless Wiretapping Decisions Issued By Ninth Circuit Court

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  • Rights..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by P-niiice ( 1703362 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:05PM (#38538938)
    Hey, why not? We already have unlimited detention without charges/evidence/probable cause. Might as well go for it all.
  • NSA case (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oldhack ( 1037484 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:06PM (#38538940)
    The NSA case will disappear in the name of national security or some such.
  • Impeach (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fnj ( 64210 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:08PM (#38538962)

    The court is corrupt on the face of this decision. Impeach the judges responsible.

  • Nuremburg Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:09PM (#38538976)

    Great. The Ninth Circuit just made it OK to use "I was just following orders" as a defense, if you're a telecom.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:18PM (#38539054)

    Richard Nixon would have loved this era.

  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:21PM (#38539094)

    Given the state of the laws in effect today, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't committed some kind of offense within the last month. It's more like "You're a criminal but you have nothing to be concerned about unless we want to enforce it"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:23PM (#38539118)

    This BS will never stop. These got bastards want a slave society and see nothing wrong with enlisting the corporate sellouts. Best prepare yourselves for war.

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:28PM (#38539172) Homepage Journal

    The 9th circuit isn't doing that; Congress did it in 2008. That was the very intent of the FISA amendment, and there really wasn't any ambiguity about it. Many people simply hated it at the time. (Though most didn't hate it enough to vote against the people who did it -- both McCain and Obama who supported it as senators, combined got an overwhelming majority of the votes for president. Doing what they did, didn't destroy their campaigns.) Don't blame the court for that. The AT&T suit really ought to be dead; the time to fight for justice was 3.5 years ago and we collectively decided it wasn't important.

    We need to accept and take responsibility for that decision. It is hypocritical to vote against justice and still demand it.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:29PM (#38539182) Homepage

    For that reason, I'd probably have to agree with the court and state that nothing prevents Congress, as the legislative branch, from absolving or nullifying previous criminal behavior by legislation.

    So far that's fine but Congress should not be able to absolve breaking the constitution without amending the constitution. So if your fourth amendment rights were violated, Congress shouldn't have the power to pass a regular law granting immunity to those who broke it. In that case you might as well use the constitution as toilet paper.

  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:38PM (#38539272) Journal

    "that doesn't seem ridiculously out-of-bounds for their authority"

    And theres the rub. Warrantless wiretapping is clearly out-of-bounds for any level of government. Even if congress passed a law allowing this, the president signed it, his executive branch enforced it, and the supreme court affirmed it (and PUBLIC legal defense against the government attempts is the first place the telcos should have gone with this).

    Every citizen has an obligation to defend our constitution from government tyranny when they see it. By shedding blood or having their blood shed if necessary.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:38PM (#38539280)

    Due diligence. Everybody who has grown up in the US has at some point come into contact with the notion that law enforcement need warrants. I'm not sure how they could possibly believe that there weren't any laws being broken when they weren't being provided with any documentation.

    These are organizations that have attorneys and if they weren't aware of the illegality of it it was purely because they were specifically looking the other way.

  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:45PM (#38539376)

    The point is that you have committed violations of the law... it doesn't matter if they're gross violations or even if the common person realizes they're violations. Most people commit some sort of violation every day (Ever go 56 in a 55 zone? That's breaking the law). Just because it's inconsequential, unenforced or otherwise ignored doesn't mean you're not breaking a law. We're heading in a direction where everything is illegal and we just accept a state that can arrest you for anything if they decide they want to.

  • Freedoms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:47PM (#38539410)
    Here is my 0.02 cents: neither government nor the courts are to blame, we the citizenry who elect our officials are to blame. We have the media reporting a disporportionate amount of bad news (crime, terrorism, etc) because it sells. In turn this leads people to conclude that times are not getting safer but more dangerous and, in some cases, may actually encourage criminal copycat behaviours because of the basic human tendency to jump to conclusions. The reality is that crime hasn't really skyrocketed and by all accounts might actually be rising at a much lower rate when compared with the population. We just have a distorted perception of rampant crime and danger as a result of what the media reports. So people, and in particular senior citizens due to diminished strength and mobility, experience an irrational amount of fear. Thus we turn to our elected officials to ask for greater safety and security in the form of more laws and restrictions. Hence, many of these laws are poorly written and concieved because they were born out of a knee jerk reaction versus careful thought as to whether these laws are: (a) really necessary and/or (b) will really achieve the end result. Politicians that are wise to the demands of their constituents will of course play the get tough on crime with the hope of winning votes and even push through legislation toughening sentences or expanding the dragnet of what constitutes criminality. In summary, a vicious cycle is created that no one is really able to break unless there were a sudden breakout of common sense. I would admire the politician that would take the "not get tough on crime stance" because crime is not rampant. I would admire the politican that would take the step back and reflect the negative effects of passing some laws instead of being concerned about some short term gain in the polls. In reality, we've no one to blame but ourselves. The courts are doing what we are basically asking them. We are willingly giving up liberty for the security that we are asking for. Thomas Jefferson noted that, "Those that would give up some liberty to gain security get none and deserve neither."
  • Re:Freedoms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:04PM (#38539626)

    Wait... you seriously think we get a free choice to elect our officials?
    At best we get a choice between 2 or 3 identical people who the system has already made sure will all promote the status quo.

  • by element-o.p. ( 939033 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:02PM (#38540322) Homepage

    I agree that we should come down like a ton of bricks on those who overstep those bounds, but each and every one of us has a moral and ethical obligation to weigh every request, order or demand from authority before complying. Doing the right thing is not always easy, but that's life. If people, as a whole, would grow a collective backbone, those in authority would be far less inclined to overstep their bounds because they would have the proverbial snowball's chance of succeeding with whatever it is they are trying to do that is unethical or dishonest. As long as we keep complying with authority because "I was just following orders" we are willing accomplices in their evil. That's not the way I want to live my life.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian