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NSA's phone snooping is deemed legal by a federal judge; Supreme showdown coming?

Posted: , by Alan F.

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NSA's phone snooping is deemed legal by a federal judge; Supreme showdown coming?
Less than two weeks after a federal judge in Washington D.C. ruled that it was "almost certainly" unconstitutional for the NSA to obtain metadata from public phone calls, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that the NSA's actions were legal. This sets the stage for a possible Supreme Court decision down the road. According to David Cole, a constitutional law and national security scholar at Georgetown University, should an appeals court rule against the NSA on constitutional grounds, the case could find itself being heard by the highest court in the land.

As for the case in New York, it was brought by the ACLU which argued that the NSA's actions were violating the constitutional rights of its members by collecting the metadata from ACLU phone calls. Metadata consists of the phone numbers called and the elapsed time of these calls, without revealing the content of them. The organization said that the decision was disappointing and will appeal the decision to the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan. Meanwhile, the decision against the NSA in Washington D.C. will be appealed by the government to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Three other cases fighting the collection of bulk data are pending.

The judge hearing the case in New York City was Judge Pauley, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. The NSA's program captures data on all calls, and then looks to match phone numbers to those suspected to be connected to terrorism. The program was put into effect after the 9/11 terror attacks, and President Barack Obama has hinted at changes in the program for next year, with the possibility that the data could be stored by a private phone company instead of a government agency.

"The right to be free from searches and seizures is fundamental, but not absolute," he wrote. "Every day, people voluntarily surrender personal and seemingly private information to trans-national corporations, which exploit that data for profit. Few think twice about it, even though it is far more intrusive than bulk telephony metadata collection."-excerpt from Judge Pauley's decision

The Patriot Act allows the government to collect records belonging to businesses if the government feels that they are relevant to an investigation. Some of the companies that have passed along information include Verizon, Apple and Google. In making his decision, the judge referred to a 1979 case, Smith v. Maryland that held that "individuals have no legitimate expectation of privacy" concerning phone numbers they dial, because the phone companies connect the calls and the public is aware that these carriers can record the numbers they call. Following the ruling, an NSA spokesman said that the agency was "pleased" with the decision.

source: WSJ

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posted on 28 Dec 2013, 00:24

5. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5918; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Expect the Supremes to try to avoid the whole issue. I doubt there are 5 votes to accept the case. The latest ruling holds that the vacuuming is legal; if the Supremes decline to hear the case, the ruling becomes controlling.

posted on 28 Dec 2013, 02:09 1

6. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5918; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


After further research, it seems the ruling is at the district court level. The next stage in the process is for circuit courts of appeal to consider the matter. Since judge Leon stayed his ruling pending appeal, life goes on unchanged at NSA - your metadata continues to be vacuumed up 24x365. It will be at least 2 years before the Supremes will hear arguments in this case. If they even decide to consider it.

posted on 28 Dec 2013, 15:35 1

11. rallyguy (Posts: 572; Member since: 13 Mar 2012)


It could be fast tracked, but just possible. The article isn't entirely correct. It takes more than just being relevant. I feel there is no doubt that what the NSA is going is clearly a Constitutional violation. If you read the decision by the NY judge he essentially acknowledges that it is, except goes on to say that it is more important to fight terrorism and keep the country safe. In my opinion he is an activist judge as many others.

posted on 29 Dec 2013, 03:58

13. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 908; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)


The court system is a joke.They interpret the laws of your freedom by and for agencies like the NSA. If you think this is not the case look back to when the Supremme court waited until the last hours to say that Bush did not win the election with Al Gore. Had Gore won there probably would have been no war or any of the laws being made to prtect you from the "war on Terror"

Your freedom is based on covert cointelle practices of these government agencies that was practiced in the 50's and 60's if, and when they consider your actions a threat to the status quo way of life of the large corporations that pull the strings of these organizations. Look up the "cointelle" programs and see that the NSA is just that using Homeland Securtiy as a way of implementing those practices today.

For instance under Homeland Security anyone that opposes fracking in Penssylvania, and fought the companies that poisoned the waters from the fracking process were labled ECo-Terrorist.
The people that fought for the clean up of the poisoned water supply were put on the terrorist list and harrassed, and put under surveillance by the Penssylvania Homeland Security Agency.

The oil companies hired retired CIA mind contol agents used in Iraq to spread false data pamphlets about the saftety of Fracking. Watch the documentary Gas Lands I&II and research the out come of Fracking in Pennnsylvania if you disbelieve this.

When agencies start doing the things that the NSA is doing under the guise of national security, and terrorism your rights are being violated. This believe it or not its how Hitler started his campaign that started the holocaust by using the army to squash any social uprising. Here they use the laws of terroism "Homeland Security", and the NSA to do these things, no army is needed to subdue clueless Americans.

The last judge interprets your freemdom based on the fact that because telephone companies, and large corporations subvert your data that the governmnet should be able to do this as well. When in fact the government is supposed to make sure that the laws of freedom are up held by corporations and the telephone companies instead of joing them! Some of your comments as well as mine on this subject today would make us subject to the Homeland Security Act.....think about this while your freedom is stolen from you ever so lightly just as Hitler changed Germany!

For a judge to imply that the NSA is out of bounds but "it" is nescessary to protect you from terroism is just a lie agains your freemdom, and senister tactics never should be deemed a necessary evil, or an accepted policy to fight another necessary evil.

posted on 29 Dec 2013, 20:01 1

16. Augustine (Posts: 776; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


There's no actual separation of powers. The judiciary merely enforces the will of the executive and the legislative merely ratifies the policies of the executive by passing laws that give its bureaucracies black checks to define their roles and powers. In other countries and in other times times this used to be called tyranny, but in present day America this is business as usual.

posted on 30 Dec 2013, 05:31

17. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 908; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)


What you say is too deep for most, and unknown by the masses. Wisdom never dwells with the misled until they are snared by the hunters net! The Verge has more articles against this type of practice with more astute followers about the subject. What can you expect after all this is only a cell phone review site. Product reviews is the main focus of 95% of it's users

posted on 28 Dec 2013, 07:32 2

7. Scorpion (Posts: 87; Member since: 28 Apr 2012)


Well at least NSA promotes equality, us foreighners being scrutinized as much as Americans. However since the NSA isn't the only player in the field, and this post is being seen by at least 10 ageincies (China Russia Europe Korea Japan so on), whose systems will discard it as useless (fingers crossed), I jus't don't care. The internet is a free playground, don't like it? Put your smartphone on "Flight Mode".

posted on 28 Dec 2013, 14:58 1

10. donfem (Posts: 554; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)


Good post.

posted on 28 Dec 2013, 11:40 2

8. Augustine (Posts: 776; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


“It is the height of naiveté to think that, once collected, this information won’t be used.” (Wolfgang Schmidt, former Stasi agent)

posted on 29 Dec 2013, 04:09 1

14. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 908; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)


Most people are clueless about the significance in this post or there would be 1000 thumbs up! It always starts out as subtle changes that eat away at you freedom like moths until oneday you will wake up under martial law.....extreme maybe maybe not but the ground work is already set in motion one wrong twist and any thing could happen.

posted on 28 Dec 2013, 12:50 2

9. AfterShock (Posts: 2886; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


Collection against the suspected I get.
Blanket collecting I do not.
This is out of control.

posted on 28 Dec 2013, 15:37 2

12. rallyguy (Posts: 572; Member since: 13 Mar 2012)


There is no accountability. There is already claims NSA has leaked information to help support a political candidate. Even if they say they will stop, they won't. It's time to support businesses who fight back.

posted on 29 Dec 2013, 04:11

15. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 908; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)


Some big business only fight back because they were caught; when in fact they supported this process for millions of doallars in fees all along. Snowden showed how companies mined data for these agencies for billions of dollars in profit!

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