Thursday, May 7, 2015

NSA Metadata Collection Section of PatAct: Illegal Says Appeals Court

Nobody likes snooping of any kind...  

Court says this is not 1984

Wings clipped for now...
(so, put away the headsets boys)

Major update:

Two references relate to this story, both extracts below in part: 



THERE IS A COMMON PREMISE AMONG MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND MUCH OF THE PUBLIC THAT SAYS: “Congress can do what they please by enacting laws they choose and make decisions that they want.”

Thus, I add: They take their chances with any public outrage or legal fallout like now. Also, what is amazing is that there are a lot of lawyers in Congress – didn’t they know or suspect that the metadata gathering part of the Patriotic Act was illegal or should be?  

BUT, NOW AN APPEALS COURT HAS WEIGHED IN WITH WHAT I THINK IS A CRITICAL AND VERY IMPORTANT HISTORICALLY FAR REACHING SIGNIFICANT RULING REGARDING THE NSA METADATA GATHERING PROGRAM WHICH IS PART OF THE PATRIOTIC ACT AS FOLLOWS:

Specifics: In a 97-page ruling, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (out of NY) held that a provision of the USA Patriot Act permitting the Federal Bureau of Investigation to collect business records deemed relevant to a counter-terrorism investigation (that provision is Section 215 – gives NSA unlimited snooping and record gathering authority) cannot be legitimately interpreted to permit the systematic bulk collection of domestic calling records, as the Court said in part: “[that provision of the act] cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program.”

I think this part of the ruling is critically important: In ruling the program illegal, the judges said: “We do so comfortably in the full understanding that if Congress chooses to authorize such a farreaching and unprecedented program, it has every opportunity to do so, and to do so unambiguously (i.e., if they continue the program they do so knowing full and well it has been ruled illegal).

The House appears ready to pass a bill next week that would end the government’s bulk collection of phone records, but it faces resistance from the GOP Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). A similar bill died in the Senate last November after McConnell urged Republicans to block an up-or-down vote on it with a filibuster and now he urges a “clean extension of Section 215 until 2020 in its present form.”  

The appeals court did not reach a separate claim by the plaintiffs - the American Civil Liberties Union – that the program also violated the Constitution. This Court of Appeals overturned a ruling in December 2013 by a Federal District Court judge that the program was lawful. Parallel cases are pending before two other appeals courts.

Also, I have to say that I do not in any way support the way Edward Snowden revealed the NSA program in any way. He was wrong to leak information the way he did. Surely he would have contacted any member of Congress who would have lent-an-ear to his cause and pursued the issue other than seeing Snowden go to China and then on to Russia to leak, leak, leak and seek protection in Russia, where he still is today. The result about the program that the public now knows about is good and worthwhile; not the method Snowden used to leak it -- that was 100% wrong.

Finally, I think it is safe to say that a final say-so now lies squarely with the USSC, or they may allow the appeals decision to stand even if or when it goes there, and it should. 

Stay tuned.

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