Appeals Court Says NSA Can Keep Trampling 4th Amendment With Phone Surveillance Program For Now

from the keep-going-guys dept

This is hardly a surprise, but the DC Appeals Court has issued a stay on Judge Richard Leon’s ruling from earlier this week that the NSA’s bulk phone record collection program was unconstitutional. This is the same appeals court that overturned Leon’s earlier ruling finding the program unconstitutional. This time, as we noted, Judge Leon refused to grant the government a stay, noting that the DC Circuit had taken its sweet time in actually issuing a ruling on the appeal — and the program is set to end in a couple weeks anyway. Also, Leon didn’t order the entire program shut down, but just that the NSA stop keeping the records of the plaintiffs who were customers of Verizon Business Network Services (J.J. Little and J.J. Little & Associates).

Of course, the DOJ ran to the appeals court, claiming (among other things) that their system couldn’t stop collecting the metadata of those individual entities without shutting down the whole program and putting us all at risk of TEH TERRRORISTS!!!!!. Of course, in the alternative, it argued that J.J. Little still shouldn’t have standing because there’s no proof that Verizon Business Network Services (VBNS) is still a part of the bulk collection program. As Marcy Wheeler pointed out, these arguments are nonsensical. First, the system clearly has the capability to remove certain indicators, as the government has previously admitted it had to leave out things like pizza parlors that mucked up the connection data. Second, it’s bizarre to argue that taking this one number out would let the terrorists win… while at the same time arguing that maybe the entire VBNS no longer participates in the program.

Either way, the appeals court wasted no time issuing a stay with basically no explanation other than “to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the merits of the motion for a stay.” Of course it says it’s not a motion on the merits — and it’s not — but given that the program is dead in a couple weeks anyway, it doesn’t much matter one way or the other. Still, both sides have been asked to file additional arguments over the next few days.

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Comments on “Appeals Court Says NSA Can Keep Trampling 4th Amendment With Phone Surveillance Program For Now”

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17 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Well that was conveniently fast...

They didn’t make a decision. They merely decided…

May I quote you on that?

They didn’t make a decision. They merely decided.

That just sums things up so very perfectly. I wish I had written that. I mean, I could use a line like that in a work of fiction.

Bitter, slashing fiction.

They didn’t make a decision. They merely decided.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Government by the people...

It is not longer government by the people or for the people.
If it ever was.

Washington is filled with corrupt self-dealing swindlers who line their pockets with taxpayer funds either directly or indirectly (from lobbyists who then get taxpayer-funded programs handed their way).

Each year they get more brazen, more blatent in their thuggery and their evisceration of our rights, and in their theft.

It’s only a matter of time before the sheeple who bleat “Baahhh (D)” or “Bahhh (R)” wake up to the fact that whatever letter you claim as your “party”, the real party is in DC and you’re not invited.

E

That One Guy (profile) says:

Stalling tactics

Seems to me the appeals court is being pretty blatant in their intentions here. They stall as long as possible, then once the program in question ‘shuts down’, they rule that since it’s no longer active, the case is now moot, and dismiss it on those grounds.

And just like that, it doesn’t matter what possible legal gains might have been achieved, the entire exercise is rendered pointless, leaving no pesky precedent for when(not ‘if’) the next program that does the exact same thing is discovered and makes it to the court, forcing the public to start over from the very beginning. Again.

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