Federal Judge Says Mass Surveillance by U.S. Government is 'Likely Unconstitutional'

December 17, 2013 - GamePolitics Staff

A federal judge ruled on Monday that the NSA's broad and massive surveillance of Americans' phone records is likely unconstitutional, but put aside his decision to allow the government to appeal. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled in a lawsuit brought by a conservative activist named Larry Klayman that the legal challenge to the massive surveillance program would likely succeed on the grounds that it violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Judge Leon issued a preliminary injunction against the program but suspended the order to allow an appeal by the Justice Department. The DOJ said it was reviewing the decision.

"The court concludes that plaintiffs have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the government's bulk collection and querying of phone record metadata, that they have demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their Fourth Amendment claim (of unlawful search and seizure), and that they will suffer irreparable harm absent…relief,'' Leon wrote is his preliminary decision.

But Leon's most damning comments against the government noted that the Justice Department "does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA's bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack.''

"Given the limited record before me at this point in the litigation — most notably the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative tactics — I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism,'' the judge said.

Similar cases are heading to federal courts, challenging the Justice Department's argument that such wide scale surveillance is necessary to keep Americans and American interests safe.

We will continue to report on this and other cases concerning the government's overbroad surveillance programs.

Source: USA Today


Comments

Re: Federal Judge Says Mass Surveillance by U.S. Government ...

NSA mass surveillance is unconstitutional? What's next? Telling me water is wet.

 

This reminds me of the Supreme Court Case where the justices ruled that an airport could not make a rule to ban the Free Speech in the building. (I think the airport called Free-Speech free zone, or something stupid like that).

I may be crazy, but I am not insane.

Re: Federal Judge Says Mass Surveillance by U.S. Government ...

The efficacy is kind of beside the point, isn't it?  Whether it stops a hundred attacks or none, it's still a violation of our constitutional rights.  I'm sure police could more effectively lock up criminals if they didn't have to worry about things like due process, evidence, etc, but that's not the way our system is supposed to work.  Now, whether the result (ostensibly fewer attacks) is worth the cost (reduced rights/freedoms) is something that we as a nation can discuss, but they never asked the question.  They just went ahead and did it.

Re: Federal Judge Says Mass Surveillance by U.S. Government ...

When I read that title I hear this in my mind.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz20lu2AM2k

Re: Federal Judge Says Mass Surveillance by U.S. Government ...

Probably the biggest thing they need to do to get anyone on board with their surveillance tactics, is they need to show actual examples of it working, not just going "oh, it worked" and not saying anyything more.

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Re: Federal Judge Says Mass Surveillance by U.S. Government ...

"most notably the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative tactics"

Kinda like airport security, it has only ever prevented maybe what, ONE actuall attempt? and detained and black listed countless non-threats...

But we need to up it drastically to prevent further attacks that we'll never prevent!

Okay, I keed, but same principal. Lets be uppity and in everyones face who isn't a threat via police state instead of worrying about actually watching for real threats and focusing on ways to prevent those instead.

Re: Federal Judge Says Mass Surveillance by U.S. Government ...

In terms of the TSA, they have done more than a single actual attempt. But it should be noted, that some years ago, there was a investigation done on airports who used the TSA, and those who hired their own security firm to do the searching. They found that the privately hired security did a better job, by a lot.

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Re: Federal Judge Says Mass Surveillance by U.S. Government ...

most likely because the privately hired security knows they'd be canned if they slacked off

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: Federal Judge Says Mass Surveillance by U.S. Government ...

I knew it was rather low, hence the "maybe".

Either way, the point stands even more now :)

 
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