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The Supreme Court denies review of warrantless wiretap case

Lawsuits without proof hold no ground, said the Supreme Court on Tuesday as it declined to review a case against the federal government.  A group of plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the government for its warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps program.

Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, the president may order secret wiretaps with the approval of the FISA court.  The ACLU claims the president bypassed this court to wiretap suspects after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

A previous ruling by a lower court judge stated that the surveillance program infringed on the Fourth Amendment.  The judge also noted that the program violated plaintiff’s First Amendment rights by causing a “chilling effect” where speech is hindered out of fear of being penalized.  The decision, last year, was overturned on appeal.  A three-judge panel concluded that the plaintiffs had no proof of being wiretapped, therefore held no standing.

What makes this lawsuit difficult, if not impossible, for plaintiffs is that they must show that the company or entity has harmed them in one way or another.  Because the NSA wiretapping is in secret and protected by state privileges, no person knows whether they have been wiretapped, reports The LA Times.  Ergo, no citizen can demonstrate proof he or she was wiretapped.

The ACLU decided to go at this from a different angle, claiming the chilling effect is grounds for suit.  On behalf of activist groups, scholars, and journalists, the civil rights group asserted that warrantless wiretapping has disrupted communications between the plaintiffs and their contacts.

The Sixth Circuit court ruled 2-1 that the plaintiffs’ case held no ground based on the lack of proof, and it did not show any direct harm from the Terrorist Surveillance Program.  The ruling stands with the backing of the Supreme
Court’s decision.

Warrantless wiretapping lawsuits are becoming more and more frequent, recently involving telecom companies and the NSA.  The ruling on Tuesday by the Supreme Court will not have affect the litigation against the telecom firms though.



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New Market?
By Spuke on 2/20/2008 5:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
I see a lucrative market in selling equipment that monitors your internet and voice lines for possible surveillance.




RE: New Market?
By Cr0nJ0b on 2/20/2008 5:59:00 PM , Rating: 4
I think that when the taps are placed from within the telephony infrastructure, as it was with AT&T tapping trunks, you won't really be able to sniff out that a tap is in place. I'm not the expert here by any stretch, but it seems reasonable that this type of tap would be really hard to detect as opposed to some type of electrical tap that is placed near the source...again, no expert here, but I don't think your anti-surveilance gear will work all that well...


RE: New Market?
By Spuke on 2/20/2008 6:18:25 PM , Rating: 2
I would have to agree that it would be difficult to detect their taps. There's always encryption.


RE: New Market?
By daftrok on 2/20/2008 7:20:48 PM , Rating: 2
Its the perfect crime. They are infringing on our rights and at the same time we can't prove its been used against us.


RE: New Market?
By i3arracuda on 2/20/2008 8:39:58 PM , Rating: 5
Which is why I always wear my lovingly hand crafted tin-foil hat wherever I go. Featuring the latest in scan-reflective technology, my foiled fedora foils any fascist federal foray dead in its tracks. Alliteration aside, that's the kind of protection you just can't buy in stores. And, even if you could, it's probably a felony.

The tin-foil hat is scientifically proven to protect and shield you from all manner of nefarious influences, such as radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation, celebrity gossip, and Internet bloggers. Don't be fooled by imitators, or expensive, European luxury competitors such as the silver, or gold-foiled hats. The only thing scientifically proven about those gaudy charlatans is that they are guaranteed to separate you from your money!

So remember, the next time you suspect Uncle Sam is 'secretly' surveilling you, make sure you reach for the #1 name in plated, protecting placebos, the often-imitated, never-duplicated, aluminum tin-foil hat!

...don't leave home without it!


RE: New Market?
By daftrok on 2/20/2008 11:31:08 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently it doesn't work because you were influenced to spend 10 minutes to comment on an INTERNET BLOG!


RE: New Market?
By i3arracuda on 2/21/2008 8:23:09 AM , Rating: 5
No! Well, er, I mean, there's a perfectly good explanation for that, I'm sure. There are...many...external, ah, factors that could have temporarily overwhelmed the ability of my foiled headdress to adequately shield me from otherwise meaningless prattle. It's probably something simple, you know, like....a vindictive solar flare, or Jupiter's massively magnificent magnetosphere. Rain. That's a good one. I don't think moisture is healthy for any tin-foil hat. It's possible I left it on in the shower. Locusts! Locusts are definitely a possibility because I noticed a bug stain on my car yesterday morning. There could be an entire swarm lurking around the next corner, ready to strike at a moment's notice. Rising gas prices. Seemingly unrelated, or secret subliminal attack on your wallet? (Note to self: craft tin-foil wallet to protect against rising gas prices.)

So, um, yeah! That's plausible, right? I mean, nothing is completely fool-proof, right?

Er, I mean to say...I find your lack of faith disturbing.


RE: New Market?
By tedrodai on 2/21/2008 9:32:19 AM , Rating: 2
Hah! I enjoyed both of your comments immensely.


RE: New Market?
By daftrok on 2/22/2008 1:17:50 PM , Rating: 2
Lol, me too you are forgiven. Now release me from your force choke...ahh thats better.


RE: New Market?
By kzrssk on 2/20/2008 6:20:07 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see encryption of everything you do in life being a viable option, so I guess it's back to the old days, where you met in person and away from prying eyes and ears in the dark corner of a tavern.

Or in our case, maybe a semi-crowded park or coffee shop with wireless transmitter detectors.


RE: New Market?
By Oregonian2 on 2/20/2008 6:23:46 PM , Rating: 2
No, it's not sniff'able. You just two-way multi-cast the link being tapped, with the added port being the wiretap. The connection being monitored is basically untouched.


By agrip1 on 2/20/2008 8:26:59 PM , Rating: 5
When you cross the border into the US, or into any country for that matter, you and all your belongings are subject to search by that country's authorities. You can not refuse.

When a package or letter crosses international borders, it is also subject to examination, without your express consent, and without informing you.

No warrant is required in the above scenarios, and the right of governments to know what is entering their country is long established in international law.

Why are electronic communications crossing international borders any different from a postal letter or a truck full of goods?

Surveilling purely domestic calls is a different matter, but that is not what is being argued. How is monitoring a call from Pakistan to Chicago a violation of civil liberties if it is understood that a letter following the same route can be opened and read by the relavant authorities?

I'm trying to get a handle on the cause of this 'outrage'.




By Globemaster on 2/20/2008 8:38:59 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed 100%. These are international calls, so therefore it's not domestic wiretapping. Don't think so, place a phone call to Pakistan and see if it's the same $.10 per minute you get charged for a domestic call.

Just because so many of you hate this President it doesn't automatically correlate that everything an agency under the executive branch does is wrong.

Our intelligence agencies have to monitor suspected terrorists today just as they had to monitor Soviet intelligence agents in the cold war and German agents from 1930-1945.

Those of you that are screaming for that ability to be taken away will also be the first screaming that we didn't do enough to prevent the next attack. You'll say "We spent all this money on Iraq and not enough on Homeland Security".

Well, without the ability to use that money effectively to monitor and disrupt our enemies' activities, it's useless.


By Spuke on 2/20/2008 9:17:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Those of you that are screaming for that ability to be taken away will also be the first screaming that we didn't do enough to prevent the next attack.
Reading comprehension evades you.

No one here asked for the ENTIRE wiretapping ability to be taken away. WE would like wiretapping to continue to have oversight like it's always been (ie. FISA court). WE don't want the government to have carte blanche on whoever and whenever they can wiretap. As it currently stands without modifying the laws to give them MORE power, the government has the ability to wiretap for x amount of time BEFORE they are required to get a warrant. And the warrants aren't hard to get and rarely interrupt surveillance.


By Nanobaud on 2/20/2008 9:20:28 PM , Rating: 2
If that were truly the case, they would have no problem getting warrants. The fact that they feel the need to avoid getting warrants is what makes so many so suspicious.


By agrip1 on 2/20/2008 9:23:35 PM , Rating: 2
Why do you think they need to get warrants for monitoring *international* calls? No warrant is needed to examine letters crossing international borders.


By mWMA on 2/20/2008 9:55:32 PM , Rating: 1
There is one thing wrong with your comparison of examine letters and calls. If a Letter is examined, the person who sent the letter is notified in some form at the end of investigation.

Communications monitored without warrant is fine to just about anyone... no one is stopping but they want checks and balances. Read up before making analogies. Powers if kept in check are more effective to get things done and keep illegal behavior and activities from happening compared to power without any check.

FISA is a secret court, warrants, identities of people under investigation is kept secret until all intelligence if gathered.
The Law on the books that has been there for a long while now which allows the following:
Government agency CIA/FBI can monitor any communication domestic or international without a warrant to investigate however they must get a warrant within 72 hours (3 days) from Secret court in order to continue such monitoring of suspect.
Now they want to be able get law passed to allow monitoring without a warrant because they have been doing it illegally for a while now and cannot let congress or any entity look into their illegal activities.


By agrip1 on 2/20/2008 10:13:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote>There is one thing wrong with your comparison of examine letters and calls. If a Letter is examined, the person who sent the letter is notified in some form at the end of investigation.

No, you're wrong. There is no requirement to inform anyone that they were under investigation when mail is examined by, in this case, ICE.

quote:
Read up before making analogies. Powers if kept in check are more effective to get things done and keep illegal behavior and activities from happening compared to power without any check.
<

Are you trying to make some kind of point? Perhaps you should think before vomiting a random collection of words into your posts. No critical thinker could see even the slightest coherence in this post.


By mWMA on 2/20/2008 10:07:23 PM , Rating: 2
Just in case you fails to understand my reply.. here is my own analogy that may get through to you more easily.

If you give your credit card to purchase a item to a loved one or you lose it or worst your identity is stolen, it may or may not get abused/used. However you have to ability to check for abuse/use after such thing has happened by looking at your credit card statements. This will allow you to stop the illegal activity from happening in the future. Hence the concept of check and balance. That is not a liberal or conservative ideology.. that is a business idea to prevent bad things from happening. Same thing applies to powers given to our government.

3 branches of our great republic were not created to make it easier to govern the nation, they were made so that each can keep the other in check.


By agrip1 on 2/20/2008 10:18:49 PM , Rating: 1
You're still not making any sense. The balance between the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches is not the issue here.

There is existing law allowing examination of communications, goods, and people entering the country. There is no warrant required. Those laws could be changed, but they haven't and probobly won't.

A FISA warrant is required for surveillance of domestic communications.

What's so difficult to understand here?


By Christopher1 on 2/21/2008 1:32:29 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, think again. A FISA warrant is needed for any surveillance, even OUTSIDE OF THE COUNTRY, that is done on an American citizen or might be done on an American citizen..... that's the loophole there and the gotcha, that isn't really a gotcha.

Had that told to me by someone who used to work for the FBI and was in charge of getting FISA warrants at one time.


By DigitalFreak on 2/21/2008 8:36:28 AM , Rating: 2
We do so love government apologists


By Ringold on 2/21/2008 10:51:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm trying to get a handle on the cause of this 'outrage'.


No doubt many posts will follow, but allow my simplify for you to get to the root cause.

Two words. "George Bush"

At least, that's why it's so reviled. The ACLU being involved, well, it doesn't take much for them to jump on something. I'm surprised they're not busy in court trying to sue the veterans and bikers who occasionally have to go to military funerals to scare the hippies away with their megaphones.


So....
By HighWing on 2/20/2008 5:43:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Because the NSA wiretapping is in secret and protected by state privileges, no person knows whether they have been wiretapped, reports The LA Times. Ergo, no citizen can demonstrate proof he or she was wiretapped.


Ok, so isn't there someway they could have got the courts to grant them a ruling or something to then discover if a certain individual had a wiretap. I mean I understand the reasons for not disclosing who DOES have a wiretap, but at the least they can look into who HAD a wiretap, and the process to which some current wiretaps were granted. Or am I dreaming of a government run for the people by the people .....




RE: So....
By brheault on 2/20/2008 6:16:11 PM , Rating: 2
It does seem pretty cynical to me to deny the hearing of a case based on lack of evidence, when it is the defendant who holds that information and refuses to surrender it to the court.


RE: So....
By eye smite on 2/20/2008 6:33:21 PM , Rating: 4
I would almost bet you they claimed they could not release the info due to issues of national security. I'm also willing to bet the NSA will cook up whatever they have to no matter who's in office to cover themselves, but.....that's just speculation. :-)


RE: So....
By Ringold on 2/21/2008 10:56:34 AM , Rating: 2
This fits perfectly in to the framework I've laid out two or three other times at length in response to these past articles.

The last two times the law was stretched to face a threat the Supreme Court in both instances looked the other way. After the threat had passed, it got to work blasting away all those things that in theory shouldn't of occured.

No doubt in some number of years the Supremes will decide to hear such a case, will grant the sort of thing you're talking about to discover evidence, and will smite any appropriate government programs. When they think the time is right, apparently.


RE: So....
By Gnoad on 2/20/2008 6:39:03 PM , Rating: 1
Yet another reason why we need Ron Paul as president. Too bad it won't happen.


ACLU = FAIL
By elmikethemike on 2/20/2008 6:59:19 PM , Rating: 2
I'm glad the ACLU had it's ass handed to it. They're the worst organization in this country, funded by some of the most ridiculous people on the planet.




RE: ACLU = FAIL
By uhgotnegum on 2/20/2008 7:15:22 PM , Rating: 3
I would never say that the ACLU is the "worst," and not because I could mention something really nasty like some supremacist organization...

I think that the concept of the ACLU benefits society as a whole, because it provides a very strict "check" of actions of the government on behalf of the citizens. Most of the citizens take so little interest in the government and what it does (or in the alternative draws absolutely silly conclusions with little to no independent research) that without an organization like the ACLU, we might have some action by the government go unnoticed and develop into something we really don't want. Extremely general, I know, but the point is that the ACLU is one more way the lazy citizens of the US can rest assured that someone is trying to look out for them.

Though I don't always agree with how far the ACLU interprets a number of our liberties, it's my opinion that we'd sorely miss it if it were gone...I mean, who doesn't want an organization dedicated to preserving the rights and liberties of individuals?


RE: ACLU = FAIL
By Polynikes on 2/20/2008 7:19:49 PM , Rating: 2
I'm glad to see there's someone else in the world who appreciates some good old government spying like I do. Boy, I wish we could monitor EVERYONE, ALL THE TIME. Civil liberties? Screw that crap, we don't need it! Them stupid ALCU people need to go die in a fire! </sarcasm>

I may not agree with everything the ACLU does, but they are 100% in the right on this issue. I pity you for thinking their loss here is a good thing.


RE: ACLU = FAIL
By bryanW1995 on 2/20/08, Rating: 0
RE: ACLU = FAIL
By Polynikes on 2/20/2008 9:57:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
liberal hippie douche path

First off, I'm a libertarian. I'd be a conservative if it wasn't for my views on abortion and gay rights.

Second, I have no problem with justified government spying, like if they had a warrant. Warrantless wiretapping is wrong, just as any police action without a warrant would be wrong.

I bet you'd just LOVE to have the police search your house for illegal substances/objects/whatever whenever they wanted, right? Got nothing to hide? Me either, but I damn sure don't need Big Brother invading my home, or my communications.


How to Get Proof
By GTVic on 2/20/2008 9:12:33 PM , Rating: 2
Someone should pretend to be a terrorist by making credible sounding phone calls and then sue the government when they show up at the door.




quid pro what?
By tspinning on 2/21/2008 9:39:19 AM , Rating: 2
So what I read is, it's fine for the government to wire tap without proof, evidence, or reason, however bringing the government to court over such wire taps is impossible (and wrong) because there is no proof, evidence, or "reason"... i feel there is a fault in the logic here.




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