December 27, 2013

Federal judge in NY says the NSA surveillance program is legal.

Judge William H. Pauley III grants the government's motion to dismiss in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU.
Judge Pauley said that protections under the Fourth Amendment do not apply to records held by third parties, like phone companies.

“This blunt tool only works because it collects everything,” Judge Pauley said in the ruling. “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."
He says it is.

19 comments:

john said...

This is a reminder from Uncle Sam that it is always good to shop around for the best deals this holiday season.

Hagar said...

It is not a question of legality; at least as regards laws enacted before this technology became available.

And anyway, I do not think it can be stopped now. I do think it ought to be supervised, and in daylight.

WaitingToBuy said...

So, I guess it is ok for govt to grab all our snail mail too? Just take down the info ( not read of course,wink,wink) and send it on its way. What a crock.

Bob R said...

The way I read Orin Kerr's comments that you linked to in a previous post, the only real cure here is for the SCOTUS to overturn the Smith decision, which seems to me to be Dred-Scott-level bad. The Richard Leon decision seemed to almost a refusal to deal with such an awful precedent. Pauley seems to be requiring the SCOTUS to clean up their own mess. I have no idea which approach is likely to be more effective. Anyone?

lemondog said...

A warning over 35 years ago:

Frank Church warns of govt. surveillance in 1975

Where have you gone, Frank Church
A nation turns it's lonely eyes to you ...woo woo woo.

lemondog said...

From Wiki:
Church was stunned by what the Church Committee learned about the immense operations and electronic monitoring capabilities of the National Security Agency (NSA), an agency whose existence was unknown to most Americans at the time. Church stated in 1975: "That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide."[39] He is widely quoted as also stating regarding the NSA: "I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge... I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."[40]

"When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny
T. Jefferson (?)

PB Reader said...

The judge is wrong. If I rent space from a third party to store property, papers and records of communications, then I have a right to to expect they are secure from government inspection absent a legal search warrant. Whether I hold them or hire a third party to hold them matters not. If leave them on a park bench or dump them in the trash, that is another matter entirely.

PB Reader said...

I don't doubt the potential benefits of having a complete record of every human activity, or the lesser record of phone calls and emails, but we have this very strong obstacle known as the 4th amendment.

Effectiveness of a program is not a valid argument for overriding the 4th amendment.

Beorn said...

How did I know (before looking it up) that this guy was a Clinton appointee?

Bob R said...

@Beorn - Hate to break it to you, but the Smith vs. Maryland was Brennan, joined by Burger, White, Rehnquist, and Stevens.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

PB Reader said...

Effectiveness of a program is not a valid argument for overriding the 4th amendment.

12/27/13, 1:17 PM

It's not even effective.

I'm still blown away by how badly the govt botched the Tsarnaev brothers investigation. They had their photos for two days and couldn't id them even though they were interviewed for suspected terrorist tendencies!

Beorn said...

@ Bob R - The court case you cited is almost irrelevant. Judge Leon "interprets" it one way, and Judge Pauley the other way.

But it almost always falls predictably along party lines. How much would you wager that if the current President were Republican that both judges' decisions would flip-flop?

ken in sc said...

Government snooping without a warrant is not new. When I was in high school, in the 60s, one of my classmates brought some Klan literature to school. One item was a slip of paper, with the words, “The KKK is watching you.” printed in red ink. As a joke, I mailed one of these to a friend of mine in another town. After that, for years, my mail was opened and resealed—not so skillfully. The postal inspectors and FBI probably still have a file on me today. Then, like today, any info obtained like that cannot be used in court. I suppose it could have been used to blackmail me—if I cared.

YoungHegelian said...

This blunt tool only works because it collects everything....

This is the first ruling by a judge that seems to understand that it's pretty much an all or nothing technology.

What that means from a 4th Amendment point of view is above my pay grade. I'm really glad I don't have to sit in a judge's chair and decide this one, I really am.

Mark O said...

I invite anyone, including Ann, to explain how this judge could find, as a fact, that the program works, and that it only works because it collects all the data.

Based on what evidence?

tim in vermont said...

I don't doubt that terror plots have been prevented using this technology.

Robert Cook said...

"I don't doubt that terror plots have been prevented using this technology."

I do. If there had been they'd be trumpeting those successes to the skies! They're lying to justify their rape of our civil liberties.

Bob R said...

@Beorn- Pretty obvious that I don't disagree on substance. But unless five justices agree with us - we are wrong.

tim in vermont said...

Robert, at least you and I agree that Obama's admin is incompetent.