NSA Program Found Unconstitutional Went On For 3 Years; Started Right After Telcos Got Immunity

from the law-breaking?-what-law-breaking? dept

A further delve into the latest NSA surveillance bombshell from the WSJ highlights the ridiculousness of the claims that there were "no violations" by the NSA over the years. We've been aware for a while that the FISC ruled a certain NSA program unconstitutional, but the details had been kept secret. It only came out that something was found unconstitutional a year ago, through the efforts of Senator Ron Wyden. Since then, people have been digging for more. The DOJ finally has agreed to release a redacted version of the FISC ruling after fighting it for a while, but as we wait, some more details have been coming out. Last week's Washington Post story about abuses claimed that this particular program wasn't reported to the FISC for "many months."

Yet, as we mentioned last night, the WSJ article claims that the program actually went on for three years:
For example, a recent Snowden document showed that the surveillance court ruled that the NSA had set up an unconstitutional collection effort. Officials say it was an unintentional mistake made in 2008 when it set filters on programs like these that monitor Internet traffic; NSA uncovered the inappropriate filtering in 2011 and reported it.
No biggie. The NSA just illegally collected information that clearly violated the 4th Amendment (even the rubberstamp FISC says so!) for three years. But there's no abuse. No sir. No problems at all.

Marcy Wheeler, however, puts two and two together, and notes that the "start" of this admitted unconstitutional spying was in 2008 -- which is exactly when the telcos received immunity from all such cases involving warrantless wiretapping. And, so, she points out the administration and various NSA defenders may actually be using an incredibly twisted level of reasoning to claim that this program that violated the 4th Amendment doesn't count as a "violation" because since the telcos have immunity, there's no one to "prosecute" for breaking the law. Under this twisted interpretation, the government grants telcos retroactive immunity on such surveillance, and can then use that immunity to pretend that everything it does is legal since the telcos can't be prosecuted. If that turns out to be true, it's downright evil.

And, you wonder why the key part of CISPA was to basically extend blanket immunity on privacy violations between not just telcos and the government, but basically all tech companies. The more immunity the government grants, the more "legal" all its actions become. It's sickening.

Filed Under: 4th amendment, fisc, immunity, nsa, nsa surveillance, oversight, surveillance, telcos, violations


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2013 @ 9:39am

    Re: "basically all tech companies" includes Google and Facebook!

    Why?

    No reasoning here OOTB, please elaborate.

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