Print 32 comment(s) - last by Captain Orgazm.. on Dec 31 at 5:04 AM

  (Source: JeffParker/Florida Today)
Pair of opposing federal court decisions push issue towards the Supreme Court of the United States

A pair of decision in neighboring U.S. District federal courts has left the answer of U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) "spying" on Americans anything but clearly answered.

I. The Rulings -- Fact Cards

Here's the basics on the first ruling, in a case brought by a group of private citizens, including libertarian-leaning lawyer Larry Klayman, a member of the Republican party and founder of Judicial Watch:
  • Judge: U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon

    Judge Leon
    [Image Source: Suffolk University Law School]

  • Age: 64
  • Nominated: Sept. 10, 2001 (one day before 9/11 terrorist attacks)
  • Nominating President: George Walker Bush (R)
  • Confirmed: Feb. 14, 2002
  • Court House: U.S. District Court for the U.S. District of Columbia (USDC-DCD)
  • Appeals Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (USAC-DC Cir.)
  • Scope of the Appeals Circuit: Washington D.C. (only)
  • Date of Injunction Ruling: 12/17
  • Ruling Length: 68 pages
  • Name: CV-13-0881 (RJL)
  • Outcome:
    Bulk "spying" on Americans appears to be illegal due to apparent violation of Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, pending appeal.
Here's the basics on the second ruling, in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its affiliates:
  • Judge: U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III

    Judge Pauley
    [Image Source:]

  • Age: 61
  • Nominated: May 21, 1998
  • Nominating President: William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (D)
  • Confirmed: Feb. 14, 2002
  • Court House: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (USDC-SDNY)
  • Appeals Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit (USAC-2nd Cir.)
  • Scope of the Appeals Circuit: Connecticut, New York, and Vermont
  • Date of Injunction Ruling: 12/27
  • Ruling Length: 54 pages
  • Name: CV-13-3994 (WHP)
  • Outcome:
    Bulk "spying" on Americans was deemed legal as the Court almost wholly accepted the NSA's claims that its monitoring was responsible and did not constitute direct violations of privacy rights.  Hence the court claims it to be Constitutional

As you see, these rulings essentially contradict each other.  I'll dig into them below, providing you with the quotes and information you need to analyze each ruling.

II. Methodology -- Notes

I've uploaded the entire decision to Scribd, with some notes.  Note, I found an editable copy (via documents obtained by Steptoe & Johnson LLP).  Why is this important?

For those who actually want to read the ruling (which I encourage), you can freely search this form of the document and copy and paste text from it.  By contrast the version updloaded to the district court website is unfortunately based on images.  Hence it is not only slower to load, but it also can not be searched and the text is uncopyable.

III. Washington D.C. Circuit Ruling

i. Text

Washington Federal Judge: NSA "Spying on Americans" Appears to be Unconstitutional by jasonmick

ii. Fourth Amendment?

The key outcome of the ruling says:

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, and that they will suffer irreparable harm absent preliminary injunctive relief.  Accordingly, the Court will GRANT, in part, the Motion for Preliminary Injunction in Klayman I (with respect to Larry Klayman and Charles Strange only), and DENY the Motion for Preliminary Injunction in Klayman II. However, in view of the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues, I will STAY my order pending appeal.

What does the Fourth Amendment say?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

We The People
There's warring feelings on the relevance of the Constiution in the digital age within both parties.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

The question hear appears to be whether collection of business records that U.S. citizens entrust with private business constitues a "search or seizure", particularly if those records aren't examined directly in most cases.  Further at stake is the questions of whether "wartime permissions" (under the "war on terrror") somehow overule Constitutional protections and whether bulk warrants that cover nearly all Americans are appropriate.

To be clear the Constitution and the founders never exactly covered this scenario, as it would be considered an insanely infeasible possibility in the 1780s for the government to issue a mass warrant covering all citizens of the Republic.  Judge Leon attempts to fill in this blank, discussing the spirit of the Constitution, writing:

The Fourth Amendment typically requires a neutral and detached authority be interposed between the police and the public, and it is offended by general warrants and laws that allow searches to be conducted indiscriminately and without regard to their connection with [a] crime under investigation.

I cannot imagine a more indiscriminate and arbitrary invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on that degree of privacy that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.

Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware the abridgement of freedom
of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power, would be aghast.

In other words, he feels the Framers of the U.S. Constitution would feel the NSA data mining was pricely the kind of mass search they had fought a bitter rebellion against their former colonial master to rid themselves of. 

iii. LOVEINT and "Accidents"

This argument is strengthen by scholarly writings.  For example, the Wikipedia entry for the Fourth Amendment states:

During what scholar William Cuddihy called the "colonial epidemic of general searches", the authorities possessed almost unlimited power to search for anything at any time, with very little oversight.

It's hard to argue that the NSA agents possess unlimited power of search (in some sense), with very little oversight.  However, you coulda argue the power is limited by the current policy which requires efforts to search the data set (of all American's phone calls, unencrypted internet traffic) receive multiple approvals (more on this later).  You could also argue there is some oversight via the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and internal audits within the intelligence agencies.  You could also argue there were similar mechanisms of oversight in the British Empire, hence demonstrating their insufficiency.

NSA Loveint
Eight NSA officials spied on former lovers since 2006.  But none of these so-called "LOVEINT" offenders was prosected for stalking their exes. [Image Source: Fox News]

Likewise you could argue that incidents -- such as twelve incidents of admitted personal spying (8 of which were so-called "LOVEINT" on ex-spouses, ex-girlfriends, etc.) is evidence of sufficient oversight.  Or you could argue that the fact that none of the agents were prosecuted for this apparently clearly illegal activity, and that only 6 out of 12 lost their job, as evidence of insufficient oversight.

Then there's the 3,000+ reports of violations of protocol last year, a number the NSA blames on "typos" and such.  In other words, the NSA attempts to classify violations of the law as either "accidents" (common, by its accounting) or "serious violations" (uncommon, by its accounting).  In the former case the NSA argues its employees should not be accountable for "accidentally breaking the law".

But such rhetoric seems a double standard as most Americans don't receive clemency if they "accidentally" break laws.  And one must wonder whether some serious violations have gone overlooked amid the dozens of weekly violations.  And one must wonder whether such a system can possibly be considered respectful of Fourth Amendment protections.

iv. What About "No Expectation of Privacy?"

The court takes note of the 1979 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735.  Some are arguing that decision authorizes blanket spying.  It's easy to see where this comes from -- both involve phones and privacy.

The 1979 case involves the collection of evidence from a phone number logging (a so-called "pen register) device.  The evidence gathered from the device, which was installed without warrant via a cooperating phone service provider, was used to convict Michael Lee Smith of robbery.  In a narrow 5-to-4 ruling the majority wrote:

Petitioner in all probability entertained no actual expectation of privacy in the phone numbers he dialed.

Obama Big Brother
Judge Leon suggests that in 1979 technology did not allow Big Brother to reach very far, but today it allows near limitless powers of surveillance to the police state.  [Image Source: Fits News]

But Judge Leon suggests that comparisons of that case to the current spying debate are tenuous at best, as the circumstances and scope of the surveillance are very different.  He writes:

The almost-Orwellian technology that enables the Government to store and analyze the phone metadata of every telephone user in the United States is unlike anything that could have been conceived in 1979.

In Smith, the Supreme Court was actually considering whether local police could collect one person's phone records for calls made after the pen register was installed and for the limited purpose of a small-scale investigation of harassing phone calls. See Smith, 442 U.S. at 737. The notion that the Government could collect similar data on hundreds of millions of people and retain that data for a five-year period, updating it with new data every day in perpetuity, was at best, in 1979, the stuff of science fiction.

By comparison, the Government has at its disposal today the most advanced twenty-first century tools, allowing it to "store such records and efficiently mine them for information years into the future." Jones, 132 S. Ct. at 956 (Sotomayor, J., concurring). And these technologies are "cheap in comparison to conventional surveillance techniques and, by design, proceed[] surreptitiously," thereby "evad[ing] the ordinary checks that constrain abusive law enforcement practices: limited police ... resources and community hostility." Id.
In other words recent Supreme Court decisions in the present context have gone back on the precedent set by Smith already, based on the difference in the scope of technology.

v. The Grand Security Blanket

Perhaps Judge Leon's most stinging rebuke of the NSA program, though, comes from his analysis of its usefulness.

After risking American civil liberties and spending hundreds of billions in taxpayer funding via questionable contractor payouts to special interest donors, some good must have come out of the spying surely?

Not so, says Judge Leon.  He comments:

The Government frets that such an order "could ultimately have a degrading effect on the utility of the program if an injunction in this case precipitated successful requests for such relief by other litigants." Govt.'s Opp'n at 65 (citing Shea Decl ~ 65). For reasons already explained, I am not convinced at this point in the litigation that the NSA's database has ever truly served the purpose of rapidly identifying terrorists in timesensitive investigations, and so I am certainly not convinced that the removal of two
individuals from the database will "degrade" the program in any meaningful sense.
That's pretty damning.

But it's perhaps a fairly objective review, given the NSA's sliding claims of exactly what its spying has prevented.  In a recent Senate hearing retiring/resigning NSA Director, General Keith Alexander admit that he was not being forthcoming when telling members of Congress that FISA ordered spying had "help stop" 54 assassination attempts or "terrorist plots".

By his revised numbers, the figure shrank by more than an order of magnitude.  The embattled agency director now told Congress that he believed the spying program "possibly" stopped two efforts, which he stopped short of calling full blown attack plots.  But he was unable to produce any evidence -- on the record -- that these efforts/plots would not have been discovered and stopped without spying on Americans.

The NSA has caught 54 ... whoops, "maybe 2" terrorists. [Image Source: Mashable]

So it's clear that the spying program has stopped next to nothing terrorism wise, and "next to" may be about to leave town.

IV. Southern District of New York Circuit Ruling

i. Text

New York Federal Judge: NSA "Spying on Americans" Appears to be Constitutional by jasonmick

ii. Could NSA Spying Have Prevented 9/11? At Least One Judge Thinks So

Judge Pauley weaves a fascinating tale, as told to him by intelligence agency lawyers in testimony.  He writes:

The September 11th terrorist attacks revealed, in the starkest terms, just how dangerous and interconnected the world is. While Americans depended on technology for the conveniences of modernity, al-Qaeda plotted in a seventh-century milieu to use that technology against us. It was a bold jujitsu. And it succeeded because conventional intelligence gathering could not detect diffuse filaments connecting al-Qaeda.

Prior to the September 11th attacks, the National Security Agency ("NSA") intercepted seven calls made by hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar, who was living in San Diego, California, to an al-Qaeda safe house in Yemen. The NSA intercepted those calls using overseas signals intelligence capabilities that could not capture al-Mihdhar's telephone number identifier.

Without that identifier, NSA analysts concluded mistakenly that al-Mihdhar was overseas and not in the United States. Telephony metadata would have furnished the missing information and might have permitted the NSA to notify the Federal Bureau oflnvestigation ("FBI") of the fact that al-Mihdhar was calling the Yemeni safe house from inside the United States.

The Government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world.  It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program-a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data.

This blunt tool only works because it collects everything. Such a program, if unchecked, imperils the civil liberties of every citizen. Each time someone in the United States makes or receives a telephone call, the telecommunications provider makes a record of when, and to what telephone number the call was placed, and how long it lasted. The NSA collects that telephony metadata. If plumbed, such data can reveal a rich profile of every individual as well as a comprehensive record of people's associations with one another.

The natural tension between protecting the nation and preserving civil liberty is squarely presented by the Government's bulk telephony metadata collection program. Edward Snowden's unauthorized disclosure of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ("FISC") orders has provoked a public debate and this litigation. While robust discussions are underway across the nation, in Congress, and at the White House, the question for this Court is whether the Government's bulk telephony metadata program is lawful. This Court finds it is. But the question of whether that program should be conducted is for the other two coordinate branches
of Government to decide.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union
Foundation, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the New York Civil Liberties Foundation (collectively, "the ACLU" or Plaintiffs) bring this action challenging the legality ofthe NSA's telephony metadata collection program. James R. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence; Keith B. Alexander, the Director ofNSA and Chief of the Central Security Service; Charles T. Hagel, the Secretary of Defense; Eric H. Holder, the Attorney General of the United States; and James B. Corney, the Director of the FBI (collectively, "Defendants" or the "Government") are Executive Branch Department and Agency heads involved with the bulk telephony metadata collection program.

The ACLU moves for a preliminary injunction and the Government moves to dismiss the complaint. For the reasons that follow, this Court grants the Government's motion to dismiss and denies the ACLU's motion for a preliminary injunction.

From the start the ruling by Judge Pauley clearly stretches the bounds of plausability a bit, by making the highly questionable suggestion that massing spying on Americans could have prevented the 9/11 Attacks. 

One big reason that is hard to believe is the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15, 2013.  Here you had a near identical scenario -- terrorism suspects that were on the radar thanks to Russian intelligence, yet their phone records went largely overlooked even as agents were off merrily cyber-stalking their exes.

Boston Bombing
As they say "the proof is in the pudding": the NSA spying failed to stop the Boston Bombing, for all its civil liberty sacrifices. [Image Source: Hastac]

As Judge Leon previously stated it is unclear exactly what attacks have been stopped by the program.  Thus Judge Pauley appears to be operating on the same premise that Congress long operated on -- assuming that the NSA program must have results, even though there's no way of knowing as those results are secret.  But given the NSA's retraction of 52 out of 54 claims of "stopped terrorist attacks", it's substantially less excusable for Judge Pauley to operate on such blind faith, as the evidence is in the public domain.

Perhaps he had some sort of privileged evidence that Congress and the public weren't entitled to.  But if he does, he failed to clarify it in the court case.

iii. Program Collects Everything... or Wait, it Doesn't... Maybe the Judge is Confused

Aside from the logical leap from "might have" to "would provide", the ruling also repeatedly seems to contradict itself, first saying that collecting "everything" is the only way the program can work, then claiming later that the program does not collect everything.

For example, Judge Pauley states:

"Telephony metadata" includes, as to each call, the telephone numbers that placed and received the call, the date, time, and duration of the call, other session-identifying information (for example, International Mobile Subscriber Identity number, International Mobile station Equipment Identity number, et cetera), trunk identifier, and any telephone calling card number. See Decl. of Teresa H. Shea, Director of the Signals Intelligence Directorate, NSA, dated Oct. 1, 2013, ~ 15 (ECF No. 63); Secondary Order at 2.

It does not include the content of any call, the name, address, or financial information of parties to the call, or any cell site location information. See Shea Decl. ~ 15; Secondary Order at 2. In response to the unauthorized disclosure of the Secondary Order, the Government acknowledged that since May 2006, it has collected this infonnation for substantially every telephone call in the United States, including calls between the United States arid a foreign country and calls entirely within the United States. See Shea Decl. ~ 13; White Paper at 3.

So which is it?  Is it collects "everything"?  Or is it collects less than everything so as to "not include the ... name, address..." etc.?  Surely it cannot be both.

This is one example of where the wording in the ruling stumbles in its own attempt to characterize and justify the NSA's behavior.

Sources: U.S. District Court for the U.S. District of Columbia , U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Comments     Threshold

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A question?
By JonnyDough on 12/28/2013 3:42:09 AM , Rating: 4
It shouldn't even be one. Our forefathers are rolling in their graves.

RE: A question?
By Captain Orgazmo on 12/28/2013 4:44:19 AM , Rating: 5
Just wait until the supreme court sides with the government again. Remember the supreme court allowed the illegal and abhorrent mass internment and property seizure of innocent American citizens of Japanese ethnicity during WW2. More recently they upheld the clearly unconstitutional monstrosity that is the Affordable Care Act - which among its many unlawful aspects, forces citizens to purchase a commercial product (health insurance) at threat of fine (unlawfully enforced by the IRS).

The US Constitution and Bill of Rights, the greatest national founding documents in history, have been eroded beyond recognition by generations of power hungry, selfish, corrupt, or even incompetent politicians, enabled by a compliant judiciary, the self-serving always-expanding leviathan that is the federal government bureaucracy, and low-information voters.

As it is said, the price of freedom, peace, and liberty is eternal vigilance. People become complacent, and forget the lessons of history far too quickly - what Churchill referred to as the un-teachability of mankind. It is time to hit the reset switch on the American Experiment.

RE: A question?
By Aloonatic on 12/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: A question?
By Reclaimer77 on 12/28/2013 12:19:33 PM , Rating: 1
wow...shallow and ignorant. You have a gift.

Obamacare is a massively relevant issue. You speak of it as some dead horse from 10+ years ago.

And as far as the topic on Supreme Court would be hard pressed to find a MORE topical example.

Just go away dumb liberal.

RE: A question?
By Solandri on 12/28/2013 2:00:39 PM , Rating: 3
They also force you to pay for protection (The police and the military)... Force you to pay for roads that you might not even use... The Monsterssss....

Those are explicitly listed in the Constitution, Article 1, section 8.

The Congress shall have power
- To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
- To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
- To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

(The last one is what authorizes the CIA and NSA. The Federal government does not have a police force - that's the States' responsibility.)

There is no Constitutional mandate for universal health care. I'm in favor of at least trying out universal health care, to see how well it works. But the way it was weaseled in (via the Commerce clause) was just wrong. It basically broadened the Commerce clause to where the Federal government is allowed to do anything having to do with the exchange of money, which pretty much means they can do anything. There's no point even having the rest of section 8 of the Constitution if that's your interpretation of the Commerce Clause.

RE: A question?
By Just Tom on 12/28/2013 8:38:16 PM , Rating: 2
(The last one is what authorizes the CIA and NSA. The Federal government does not have a police force - that's the States' responsibility.)


Just out of curiosity, and since you said you are in favor of trying out universal health care, how exactly would you justify it Constitutionally?

RE: A question?
By Captain Orgazmo on 12/28/2013 8:45:56 PM , Rating: 4
Excellent post, relevant information.

Being from Canada and witnessing first hand (and far too often, sadly) just how badly government runs healthcare, I would recommend to steer clear of "universal healthcare." It should be called government monopolized healthcare, and it is just another way for the Leviathan to grab and hold power over the people.

That being said, if the American people did indeed foolishly decide that they wanted government run healthcare, there are legal, and transparent ways to enact such a program. What the Obama administration is doing is attempting to sneak government healthcare in the back door, step by step.

The purpose of the current massive, indecipherable law (read by basically nobody in congress, and written by unaccountable appointed bureaucrats) is to weaken the private insurance system while getting more people on to Medicaid. When the employer mandate kicks in, conveniently delayed until after the 2014 mid term elections (just as the individual mandate was pushed to after the 2012 elections) this will precipitate a crisis in the healthcare market in the form of a massive shift of previously insured people from the private to public system, combined with at least 50% of medical practices refusing to accept the new lower Medicaid payment rates. As is the Fabian Socialist way, they never let a crisis go to waste - as was the plan from the start.

RE: A question?
By Reclaimer77 on 12/29/2013 2:19:38 AM , Rating: 4
What the Obama administration is doing is attempting to sneak government healthcare in the back door, step by step.

Sadly it's even worst than that. Obamacare is a massive wealth redistribution scheme. It broadens Government control and power astronomically, while sapping an unprecedented level of income out of the peoples hands, and into various Government programs and agencies. It's the single largest tax increase in the history of the nation.

I have to believe if improved health care was the actual goal, at any level, even our inept and corrupt Government could do a better job than this.

There are now LESS insured Americans than before the program was put into law! I don't even think critics like me thought it would get this bad so quickly.

Also it's refreshing to see a Canadian with the honesty and intellect to pull back the curtain on your own healthcare system and describe it so honestly. All we usually hear from our neighbors to the north is how superior "free" health care is etc etc.

RE: A question?
By ritualm on 12/30/2013 4:24:53 PM , Rating: 2
Being from Canada and witnessing first hand (and far too often, sadly) just how badly government runs healthcare, I would recommend to steer clear of "universal healthcare." It should be called government monopolized healthcare, and it is just another way for the Leviathan to grab and hold power over the people.

Even so, Canada's version is better than the US', where a single illness has the financial capability of a WMD to an average citizen.

Conventional wisdom would argue that you shouldn't be going bankrupt just because - to name an example - you slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk, fracturing your left leg in the process. Well, in America, you can indeed go bankrupt over such a common accident.

RE: A question?
By Captain Orgazmo on 12/31/2013 5:04:24 AM , Rating: 2
Obviously the US healthcare system is not perfect, but going to the polar opposite type of system (with its own proven problems) is a mistake. There are many ways to improve the current system without destroying it.

I know one thing for certain, the people playing with your lives, that is the US government, are pointy headed ideologues who don't give a flying fluck about what damage is caused in implementing their goals. And if they are not anti-American brainwashed fools, they are your typical bought-off, spineless, worse-than-useless Biden/Boehner/Reid slimy career politician types.

Watching from the outside, it is all so painfully obvious what is going on. Be like Bismarck, and learn from the mistakes of others.

RE: A question?
By 91TTZ on 12/30/2013 11:35:02 AM , Rating: 2
They also force you to pay for protection (The police and the military)... Force you to pay for roads that you might not even use... The Monsterssss....

You glossed over where he said "a commercial product". Either that or you just flat-out ignored it since it was convenient for the point you wanted to make.

The police, military, roads, and public schools are not private companies. They're public services. The public must pay for government-provided public services through their taxes but it's their choice whether they want to buy a product sold by private companies.

Two seperate and scary issues
By M'n'M on 12/28/2013 1:04:51 PM , Rating: 3
First we have the surveillance state being erected and whether "we the people" should ever have to depend on some secret procedural process to protect our rights. Let's say the process is not abused (as I surely think it will be), and for good reason a person is ID'ed as a potential terrorist. FISA Court grants the opening of his files and it's found that he's not a terrorist but he is cheating on his wife. Will that, or other info, then be available to other agencies or entities ... as is now done with EZ Pass info (in divorce cases) ? Even if such sharing is presently prohibited, how long will that law stand (out of sight, out of mind) ? Afterall any terrorist or "related" activity (= ???) is grounds to open your file now.

Secondly, as mentioned in the article, we are technically in a state of war and ...
Further at stake is the questions of whether "wartime permissions" (under the "war on terror") somehow overule Constitutional protections and whether bulk warrants that cover nearly all Americans are appropriate.

All the above could be moot if that route is taken. Can someone, anyone tell me when "the war on terror" can be expected to end ? How will "we" know it ? What definition will be used ? Will any future Govt be so bold to make that declaration and/or willing to relinquish the power derived from said war ? I'm less than hopeful, short of some massive public outcry ... that is equally unlikely short of some emotionally gripping future (public) abuse of power. If we are going to use "war" to describe terror, then the actions and added powers that go with the normal intent of that word will have to be equally flexible.

Lastly why is Snowden, his motivations and status and fate always the first thing brought up ? While no doubt the primary focus of People magazine, he's a distant second or 14'th compared to the issues raised. I just don't get it.

RE: Two seperate and scary issues
By M'n'M on 12/28/2013 1:25:49 PM , Rating: 2
As a related thought exercise how sanguine would people be, if sometime in your children's future, the Govt proposed to capture not just your phones metadata but to record every phone call, capture all email, scan all snail mail, put a GPS in your national ID card, a webcam on every telephone pole, indeed in every room in your house ... given no human would ever look at the data captured unless authorized by the FISC ?

RE: Two seperate and scary issues
By PaFromFL on 12/28/2013 1:48:16 PM , Rating: 4
The only reason the government is not recording everything today is probably the technical limitation of acquisition and storage hardware, rather than any concerns about the fourth amendment.

RE: Two seperate and scary issues
By ritualm on 12/28/2013 3:21:02 PM , Rating: 1
The only reason the government is not recording everything today is probably the technical limitation of acquisition and storage hardware

Bollocks on that claim, even if you skim over the fact that the NSA has already tapped into the CO's of AT&T and Verizon, grabbing communications traffic wholesale without a warrant.

"5 Zettabytes" isn't a lot a decade from now, but it's a LOT right now. If global internet data traffic this year, based on data from the top 5 largest public internet exchanges in the world, amounted to 640GB per second, you can store as many as 270 years of data.

All in a location not far from Mormon country.

Big Surprise
By Reclaimer77 on 12/28/2013 6:38:32 AM , Rating: 2
Activist Liberal judge appointed by Democrat "interprets" Constitution all screwy. Hmmm where else have we seen this happen recently?

RE: Big Surprise
By Piiman on 12/28/2013 11:23:25 AM , Rating: 4
I guess you've missed all the GOP-ers that want to EXPAND this program?

On a side note I think this judge WILLIAM H PAULEY III is Appling for a job on the Secret Court.

RE: Big Surprise
By mmatis on 12/29/2013 9:31:37 AM , Rating: 2
The GOP in support are the Rove Republicans like "Representative" Peter King of New York's 2nd Congressional District. They have no morals, scruples, principles, nor honor. Their goals are the same as those of the Democrats. The only difference is whose cronies would be slopping at the government trough when the train rolls into Nirvana.

fourth amendment?
By AssBall on 12/30/2013 12:39:46 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, I get why it is under scrutiny, but for heavens sake, how does this program not completely violate the NINTH amendment? Why not focus on that?

RE: fourth amendment?
By AssBall on 12/30/2013 12:45:26 PM , Rating: 2
For those who can't be bothered:

The NINTH amendment ascertains that there are multiple other rights of citizens not specifically lined out in the constitution which should not be infringed. Historically it has been utilized by the justice system to legally enforce infringement upon "invasion of privacy".

If illegal wiretapping isn't invasion of privacy, how much further are we going to shove the line down? Want a camera and data recorder in your toilet? Coming soon.

The NSA is lazy
By cfaalm on 12/28/2013 2:15:06 PM , Rating: 2
From the article
Without that identifier, NSA analysts concluded mistakenly that al-Mihdhar was overseas and not in the United States.

And no one had the idea of theorising on him being in the USA? Come on. If you're so gung ho on chasing terrorists you should work harder and smarter.

The bomb
By Scootie on 12/29/2013 5:34:57 AM , Rating: 2
USA is sitting on a silent bomb ready to go off and when that thing will go off because every bomb goes off we will witness a show the world has never seen before(and next time I go to visit USA watch how I will be pulled off when they see my passport because of the flaged words I used in this comment).

By bitmover461 on 12/30/2013 9:53:22 AM , Rating: 2
Using this absolutely absurd reasoning that a private citizen doing business somehow entitles the government to collect the records of that business, it would be deemed legal for the government to open mail and record the contents, since they are 'doing business' with the USPS. This government has become blatantly unconstitutional under the sanction of activist judges.

By RapidDissent on 12/30/2013 12:13:25 PM , Rating: 2
It's summed up very succinctly when you compare the abstract of the two judges conclusions: One judge says it IS NOT CONSTITUTIONAL ... the other says it IS LEGAL . Guess which one made a sound verdict and which is parroting?

My basic understanding is that executive orders make the actions "legal", that is not why we are here. We, and the ACLU, want to know if this violates that other little piece of paper at the National Archives.

By bug77 on 12/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: This
By PaFromFL on 12/28/2013 9:41:06 AM , Rating: 1
Snowden is a hero because he risked his life honoring his oath to defend the constitution against the domestic threats of the executive branch, legislative branch, and a co-opted fraction of the judicial branch. These branches were designed to counteract each other so that a majority of voters could maintain control. Unfortunately, the three branches have allied to grow the government well beyond the point where voters have control.

The three branches have created a fourth branch, the Bureaucracy. The NSA is part of the this branch and is not under direct control of the voters or apparently any of the other branches. The existence of a blanket government surveillance program is a ticking timebomb, even if it has not yet been misused (doubtful). The government can never be trusted with that much power.

I don't mind Amazon or other commercial entities tracking my purchases or whereabouts, unless they let that information fall into the hands of organizations that have guns or other methods to force my cooperation. Unfortunately, it appears that they hand over information to the government on a regular basis.

RE: This
By Piiman on 12/28/2013 11:25:40 AM , Rating: 2
"Snowden is a hero because he risked his life honoring his oath to defend the constitution against the domestic threats of the executive branch"

Just curious as to when you think he took that oath?

RE: This
By PaFromFL on 12/28/2013 1:39:36 PM , Rating: 2
Snowden presumably took the standard oath of enlistment when he enlisted in the United States Army Reserve in 2004.

RE: This
By Solandri on 12/28/2013 1:46:04 PM , Rating: 1
All federal employees take the oath, not just members of the armed services:

RE: This
By PaFromFL on 12/28/2013 1:41:38 PM , Rating: 3
FYI the oath of enlistments is:

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

RE: This
By Aloonatic on 12/28/2013 12:06:31 PM , Rating: 2
I'd guess he's a hero because he took the decision and had the balls to do so, whereas even pretty high up judges can't even get their act together with all the protection and connections that they have?

I am intrigued by what you really think the less public way of doing this would be? Considering that we are talking about the country that has invaded a few countries in recent times. Thought that places like "Git-Mo" were fine, and all the rendering/torture scandals too, all happening in the recent past, and they're probably still happening now. Sometimes I really think that you guys believe this stuff about America being the land of the free, but it seems that he knows that 'merica is very far from that and that's what he's trying to get through to you.

RE: This
By Dorkyman on 12/30/2013 11:52:02 AM , Rating: 1
I saw on a talk show last week where an anti-Snowden guy said he should have gone to his representative or senator instead and complained there, rather than releasing all this embarrassing information.

Yeah, right.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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