NSA Actions Ruled Legal by Federal Judge

    December 27, 2013
    Brian Powell
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On Friday, New York federal judge William H. Pauley III ruled that the surveillance and collection activities overseen by the NSA are legal, dismissing a case brought against the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, by the ACLU.

In his 53 page ruling, Pauley stated, “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.”

In order to defend the lawfulness of the NSA surveillance program, Pauley pointed to the intent behind the program following its creation after the events of 9/11: “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.”

Elaborating on the importance of the NSA surveillance program due to the one previous terrorist attack from al-Qaeda, Pauley stated that the mass phone metadata collection “significantly increases the NSA’s capability to detect the faintest patterns left behind by individuals affiliated with foreign terrorist organizations. Armed with all the metadata, NSA can draw connections it might otherwise never be able to find.”

The decision by Pauley runs counter to the decision reached by fellow federal judge in D.C., Judge Richard Leon. On December 16th, Judge Leon ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, saying that the actions of the NSA were most likely unconstitutional, placing an injunction against the NSA from spying on his plaintiffs. The injunction allows the federal government to appeal Leon’s ruling.

Pauley’s decision also runs counter to the findings of a recent White House panel which investigated the effectiveness of the NSA’s actions. Following the recent decision by Judge Leon and general unrest from the public concerning the NSA’s surveillance program, President Obama created a panel to determine what changes, if any, should be made to the NSA’s collection practices.

In determining how effective the NSA had been in preventing terrorist attacks from occurring, the panel found no instances in which the NSA had thwarted a terrorist attempt through the collection of phone metadata.

“It was, ‘Huh, hello? What are we doing here?’” opined Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago.

Following the results of the research, the panel suggested that the NSA surveillance program should be ended to protect the personal security and privacy of the American people.

In his ruling, however, Judge Pauley also commented on the potential violation of the 4th Amendment, which protects against unlawful searches and seizures, stating that protection against searches and seizures “is fundamental, but not absolute.”

“Every day, people voluntarily surrender personal and seemingly-private information to transnational corporations, which exploit that data for profit. Few think twice about it, even though it is far more intrusive than bulk telephony metadata collection,” ruled Pauley.

This decision is a big step towards legality for the NSA, an organization that has been under increasing fire, lately, due to its perceived intrusiveness and ineffectiveness. However, the court case in D.C. is still awaiting an appeal from the federal government. Most likely, Judge Leon will still rule against the NSA program, leaving the agency dead in the water, especially following the results of the White House investigative panel. While the decision by Judge Pauley is positive for the NSA, it may have been only a temporary life preserver.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

  • Yep

    You didn’t actually think a Federal judge was going to rule against the Federal Government did you? Face it America. You are a police state. You already incarcerate the most people in the world. More than Stalin did under the Gulag system. You see your local police being militarized. The sad part is that this is just the beginning.

    What is even more sad is that none of what is going on really effects terrorists. Do you really think terrorists were using phones and email to plan all their attacks? Really? I mean. Come on. Even when they “caught” Bin Laden it was discovered that he used a system of couriers. Not phones and email.

    But then again, you believe a plane hit the Pentagon when not one picture exists of a plane. The most secure building in the world that is covered with cameras and every company around the Pentagon is covered with cameras but not one video tape exists of plane hitting the Pentagon. That doesn’t sound the least bit odd to any of you??? They showed the planes hitting the towers. Why not the Pentagon?

    The answer is obvious. A plane did not hit the Pentagon. If that is a lie, then all of it is a lie. But here we are a decade later and now the government can spy on you at will. Funny how that happens.

    But really, you are the land of the free. You really are.

  • http://www.dregstudios.com Brandt Hardin

    The dystopian fantasies of yesteryear are now a reality. We’ve allowed the coming of an age where the civil liberties our forefathers fought so hard for are being eroded by the day. Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly are mere ghostly images of their original intent. We’ve woken up to an Orwellian Society of Fear where anyone is at the mercy of being labeled a terrorist for standing up for rights we took for granted just over a decade ago. Read about how we’re waging war against ourselves at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/09/living-in-society-of-fear-ten-years.html

    • @Brandt

      You are right and so is the other guy who posted above you. This is what has happened in America since 9/11:

      – We have 5% of the world population but 25% of the world’s prisoners.
      – No-warrant wire taps.
      – Indefinite detention of citizens without charges.
      – Approval of rendition of prisoners and torture.
      – Stop and frisk without probable cause.
      – Search and seizure without a warrant.
      – No-knock entry,
      – Confiscation and destruction of cameras that film police acting illegally.
      – Police brutality and police shootings that go without investigation.
      – Managed news.
      – The civil-rights destroying “Patriot” Act.
      – FEMA camps.
      – TSA expansion beyond airports.
      – Internet entrapment cases.
      – People going to prison for crimes against fictitious people who do not even exist.
      – Major increase in victim-less crimes in the US.
      – Cameras on every street corner.
      – The NSA program.
      – RFID program push (chip implants)
      – PRISM program
      – Militarization of the Police

      If we took away the fact it this was happening in America and called it “Country X” would we think that country was a free country? No, we would not. We would think they were living in a dictatorship or totalitarian nation. But no — all of that is happening here — we are not free and it is going to get much worse.

      Wait until they come for the guns. I hate guns but I am now the strongest supporter of gun rights because the next step is to disarm the population and when that happens – our nation will fall.