NSA Releases Latest Bulk Records Renewal Order On Same Day It Scores Win In DC Circuit Court Of Appeals
from the also:-normal-Friday-afternoon-document-dump dept
The FISA Court has approved another three-month extension of the NSA's phone metadata collection, allowing the agency to run out the clock on the USA Freedom Act-triggered "transition period" with no additional stipulations attached. The transition will apparently be "business as usual" right up to the expiration date (Nov. 29, 2015), at which point everything will suddenly be compliant with the new law.
Until that date, the NSA will still collect (and store) phone metadata in bulk. The only limitation in place at this point dates back to February 2014 -- when searches of the data haul were limited to court-approved "selectors" backed by reasonable, articulable suspicion.
The joint statement issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the DOJ discusses the impact of the USA Freedom Act extensively but makes no mention of court decisions or legal challenges possibly affecting the current collection of phone records in bulk. The FISA court order does mention ongoing lawsuits with implications on the collection as implemented, but simply orders the government to inform it of any changes it may need to make to the renewal order if a decision alters the bulk collection playing field.
The case that most threatened the current bulk collection was conveniently eliminated by the DC appeals court with oddly coincidental timing.
The appeals court decision was published on August 28th. On August 27th, the previous bulk records order expired. The new order commenced on the same day as the publication of the DC court's opinion -- which eliminated the possiblity of an injunction. This occurred nearly 9-1/2 months after arguments were heard from the court (Nov. 14, 2014) more than 18 months after the case was appealed. Synergistically, the court decided to file and publish its decision in favor of uninterrupted bulk collection the same day the NSA's renewal order kicked in.
This suggests the NSA leaned on the administration and the administration leaned on the court. I wouldn't go so far as to suggest the administration influenced the opinion, but it would seem to have been instrumental in the timing of the decision's release.