In a scathing rebuke of the government’s controversial surveillance program; Federal Judge Richard Leon found that the NSA’s bulk collection of American’s telephone records is likely a violation of their fourth amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Leon’s 68 page opinion pulled no punches. He disputed the government’s assertions that the NSA program was a key component in the governments’ fight against terrorism noting that the government failed to cite one instance where the program “actually stopped an imminent terrorist attack.” “I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations involving imminent threats of terrorism.” Leon referred to the program as “indiscriminate,” “arbitrary” and “Orwellian.” Channeling our Founding Fathers, Leon said that James Madison would be “aghast” at the scope of the agency’s collection activities.
The government responded to the ruling with a brief statement: “We’ve seen the opinion and are studying it. We believe the program is constitutional as previous judges have found. We have no further comment.”
While this ruling is limited to the plaintiff’s noted in the complaint, and is “stayed” pending a certain government appeal, it is noteworthy as it is the first time that the NSA program has been adjudicated in open court. Previously, warrants authorizing the collection of American’s metadata were obtained through the FISA Court. Deliberations in the FISA Court are held in secret with only one side, the government, providing testimony. This historic venture into open court will certainly pave the way for a wide range of challenges to the program’s authority and legality. The Supreme Court will have the final say.
This is what Eric Snowden said he wanted all along…a deliberation of the constitutionality of the NSA surveillance program in open court.
The jury is still out on Edward Snowden. Whistle blower or traitor!
One thing is certain.
Without Edward Snowden’s revelations…we’re not having this conversation.