Thursday, December 19, 2013

Federal Judge Rules that NSA's Collection of Millions of American's Phone Records may be Unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance program that collects millions of Americans' telephone records may be unconstitutional. 
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled in a lawsuit brought by conservative activist Larry Klayman that the legal challenge to the massive surveillance program — disclosed in full earlier this year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — would likely succeed.
Leon, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, issued a preliminary injunction against the program but suspended the order to allow an appeal by the Justice Department, which said it was reviewing the decision. 
The ruling is the first of several that are likely in the coming months as federal judges from New York to California review complaints from liberals and conservatives alike about the scope of the NSA's snooping. Leon's acknowledgment that the case is sure to be appealed is an indication that those appeals might wind up at the U.S. Supreme Court. 
"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.
And in perhaps the most definitive assessment of the program's effectiveness, Leon said the government "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.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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