A federal judge just ruled that the NSA practice of wholesale spying on millions of Americans’ phone calls and emails is perfectly legal and does not violate the Constitution, dismissing a lawsuit brought forth by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
In his 54-page opinion, U.S. District Judge William Pauley said the sweeping program “represents the government’s counter-punch” to eliminate al-Qaeda’s terror network by connecting fragmented and fleeting communications.
“There is no evidence that the Government has used any of the bulk telephony metadata it collected for any purpose other than investigating and disrupting terrorist attacks,” he wrote. (source)
Tack this up to yet another post-9/11 usurpation of our Constitution and Bill of Rights in the name of the neverending and never-meant-to-end phony War on Terror.
The ACLU lawsuit came in response to NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelation that the NSA was not simply keeping tabs on foreign citizens abroad, but was actually skimming up giant swaths of metadata — info on phone calls, emails, and other online communications — through all the major telecom companies used by the American people, including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo and others. The judge acknowledged that the NSA quote, “vacuums up information about virtually every telephone call, to, from, or within the United States.”
Obviously the agency needs something to necessitate that $3 billion spy hub it built in the Utah desert capable of analyzing xetabytes of information at a time.
In his ruling, the judge asserted his opinion that had such a program been around before 9/11, it would have helped stop the terrorist attacks, even though on record the NSA’s program has never presented any evidence that its program has ever stopped a single terrorist.
But it’s all to keep Americans safe, right? Trading a little liberty for a false sense of security? The judge also had this to say about the 4th Amendment:
The right to be free from searches and seizure is not absolute. As Justice Jackson famously observed, ‘the bill of rights is not a suicide pact.’ (source)
An ACLU spokesperson Jameel Jaffer says the organization will appeal the decision and keep fighting.
We are extremely disappointed with this decision, which misinterprets the relevant statutes, understates the privacy implications of the government’s surveillance and misapplies a narrow and outdated precedent to read away core constitutional protections.