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Court Rules NSA Bulk Spying Illegal: New Vindication for Edward Snowden, and Uncertainty for PATRIOT Act

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: NSA, ACLU lawsuit, VICTORY!, Federal appeals court, NY, unanimous ruling, NSA bulk spying, Illegal, bulk phone records collection, bulk data surveillance, whistleblower, Patriot Act, Section 215, renewal deadline, 06/01 expiration, Freedom Act )

- 1498 days ago -
ACLU lawsuit based on Snowden revelations: unanimous decision of Federal appeals 3-judge panel that NSA bulk phone records collection "unprecedented & unwarranted." Ruling comes as Congress faces June 1st deadline to renew Patriot Act NSA authorization


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LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Sunday May 10, 2015, 2:50 am
=> Guest on this DN! program - Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU, which filed the case challenging the NSA’s bulk collection of American’s phone records in June of 2013, shortly after Edward Snwoden disclosed the program’s existence. His new article for Slate is called "Flip the Patriot Act’s Kill Switch: Let the Worst Parts of the Law Die."

=> Angelika broke the story on C2, with a post from the ACLU site, the 'horse's mouth,' so to speak, since they filed the case. Her post is on Front Page (which I didn't see) and my C2 search of the subject BEFORE posting came up NIL! (so I'm angry at C2's inadequate & poorly performing search device) - VICTORY ! NSA Phone Records Program Ruled Illegal!

=> Politico, May 7, updated, - Edward Snowden fans see vindication in court ruling

=> Politico, May 7 - "NSA ruling puts lawmakers on edge" - "Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell spar over the future of the National Security Agency's phone-data collection program after it was ruled illegal"

"With lawmakers facing a May 31 deadline to extend or reform parts of the PATRIOT Act, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid both refused to cede ground.

".../... Reid, meantime, called for an immediate vote on the USA Freedom Act, a surveillance reform bill advancing in the House that would end the telephone metadata program.

“Instead of bringing the bipartisan NSA reform bill up for a vote, Sen. McConnell is trying to force the Senate to extend the bulk data collection practices that were ruled illegal today,” he said. “It would be the height of irresponsibility to extend these illegal spying powers when we could pass bipartisan reform into law instead.”

"The court decision injected a new element of uncertainty into the already rancorous debate in Congress over whether to extend the PATRIOT Act provisions, including Section 215, used to justify the NSA’s bulk data collection, first revealed by Edward Snowden’s leaks. If Congress doesn’t act by May 31, the provisions will expire. .../... "

=> Read about what Harry Reid is backing (&, therefore, most Dems) :
From 'the Intercept' (Glenn Greenwald's site for news & analysis) 05/05/2015 - Why the USA Freedom Act Is Both Desperately Important and Laughably Pathetic

=> DN!, March 3, 2015 - Chomsky on Snowden & Why NSA Surveillance Doesn’t Stop Terror While the U.S. Drone War Creates It

=> RollingStone, May 7, 2015 - interesting for the links - "NSA Surveillance Program Outed by Edward Snowden Ruled Illegal" - "A federal appeals court held that the NSA went beyond the legal limits of a hotly debated Patriot Act provision set to expire on June 1st" with links to other coverage such as, "Everything You Need to Know About Today's Court Ruling on NSA Spying" - "See why a federal judge slammed the government's surveillance program as 'almost-Orwellian' " (round 1 - December 16, 2013) @

Rose Becke (141)
Sunday May 10, 2015, 3:23 am
Snowden is a hero

Past Member (0)
Sunday May 10, 2015, 6:14 am
Wonderful news...maybe he can finally return home+given a medal. thx Lucy

Freya H (345)
Sunday May 10, 2015, 7:19 am
Yahoozle! Break out the champagne - and the Heady Topper.

Donna T (0)
Sunday May 10, 2015, 7:57 am
thank you

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Monday May 11, 2015, 12:17 am
I was overjoyed until I realized that the headline didn't tell the whole story -- the DN! headline suggests it's the whole Patriot Act that was judged illegal, but once you watch (or read) further the specifics come out: it's just Section 215. That's a disappointment. That means that legislators will have no motivation to repeal the other sections.

Jameel Jaffer, ACLU's Deputy Legal Director, who appears on the DN! show posted here, has also written a new article for Slate called "Flip the Patriot Act’s Kill Switch: Let the Worst Parts of the Law Die"

The ACLU article posted by Angelica also states: "The ACLU's 2008 lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act, which authorized the so-called “warrantless wiretapping program,” was dismissed 5–4 by the Supreme Court in February 2013 on the grounds that the plaintiffs could not prove that they had been monitored."

I remember developing 'cold feet' about Obama when it was revealed (before his 2008 victory at the polls) that he had voted in favor of FISA.

I am also glad to have read some of ACLU's detailed coverage on their site, as posted by Angelika:

"The complaint (filed by ACLU) argu[ed] that the dragnet, justified by the Patriot Act’s Section 215, VIOLATES the RIGHT of PRIVACY PROTECTED by the FOURth Amendment as well as the FIRST Amendment rights of FREE SPEECH and ASSICIATION. The complaint also charge[d] that the program EXCEEDS the AUTHORITY that Congress provided through the Patriot Act. The lawsuit [sought] to END THE MASS DOMESTIC SPYING and have all of the collected data DELETED. In December 2013, a federal judge denied the ACLU’s motion for a preliminary injunction and granted the government's motion to dismiss, and we appealed."

Also from the ACLU site & of the greatest interest: Why Today’s Landmark Court Victory Against Mass Surveillance Matters

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Monday May 11, 2015, 1:13 am
ACLU - TAKE ACTION! : Congress: Let Section 215 Die*

*25,419 Signed* => 35,000 Needed

"Three provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire on June 1. That includes Section 215, under which the NSA collects records all of our phone calls every day, giving the government a detailed picture of our lives and relationships.

"This program is unconstitutional and ineffective, yet Senate MAJORITY Leader Mitch McConnell just proposed REAUTHORIZING it, and extending it for another FIVE years" .... DESPITE the May 7th, 2015 Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit landmark ruling that the NSA's mass phone records program is unlawful.

"For the government to have such easy access to so much information about your private life is an abuse of power, plain and simple, and has nothing to do with national security.

"Tell Congress you want your privacy back now. Urge your representatives to let Section 215 of the Patriot Act finally die."

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Monday May 11, 2015, 5:49 am

Take Action with EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation - 'Defending Your Rights in the Digital World') - Tell Congress: My Phone Calls are My Business. Reform the NSA - E-Mail Your Reps - "Ending phone record surveillance under Section 215 is the first step to reining in surveillance abuses by the NSA."

If you can, please CALL Congress @ : "Enter your number. We’ll call you and connect you to your elected representatives. ": Besides the connection set-up, there's also a talking point page to consult @ & a follow-up section to report your call.

May 6, 2015, From EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation - Defending Your Rights in the Digital Age) Diverse Groups Stand United Against Plan to Reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act

More than 50 groups sent a letter to Congressional leadership today demanding that they shelve Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr's attempt to renew Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Despite nearly two years of revelations about the full extent of NSA spying—including how the government has interpreted this section of the Patriot Act to mean it can vacuum up the call records of millions of innocent people—these Senators want to extend Section 215, unchanged, until 2020.

The letter is loud and clear—this is unacceptable. That’s why this diverse coalition of privacy, human rights, civil rights, and transparency advocates, spanning the political spectrum:

stand united in our opposition to any proposal, such as S.1035, which would seek a straight, long-term reauthorization of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, without any corresponding reforms.

The letter confronts the Senate leaders on many of the facts that make a reauthorization of Section 215 in the absence of meaningful reform untenable:

These bulk surveillance programs raise serious constitutional concerns, erode global confidence in the American tech sector, and are unnecessary for national security.

The letter also notes the independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s conclusion that Section 215 prevented no terrorist attacks and did not lawfully authorize the daily, mass, suspicionless collection of Americans’ phone records.

For these reasons—and many more—the signers are demanding Congress oppose the renewal bill, S. 1035. But we need your help. Go to Fight to tell Congress the bill must be shelved."

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), May 9, 2015 EFF Case Analysis: Appeals Court Rules NSA Phone Records Dragnet is Illegal By Andrew Crocker*

*Andrew Crocker is a "staff attorney on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s civil liberties team. He focuses on EFF’s national security and privacy docket, as well as the Coders' Rights Project. While in law school, Andrew worked at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, and the Center for Democracy and Technology."

jan b (5)
Monday May 11, 2015, 6:49 am
Legal or Illegal-----I believe Snowden and Manning are traitors who took OATHS and stole thousands of documents which went public which meant it went to our enemies too.
For me to believe that out of trillions of e-mails or phone calls ( zillions if there was a number like that) that the relatively few Govt workers would single me out to spy on when they are busy tracing around 2000 or more possible terrorists in the USA alone....never mind those outside the country. ......the whole notion is ridiculous. Leave our security people alone----they are doing a good job considering the task at hand and have prevented many incidents ....must be frustrating to them to have people on their tails trying to prevent them from doing their job.

Past Member (0)
Monday May 11, 2015, 7:21 am
sic 'em

Warren Webber (26)
Monday May 11, 2015, 7:49 am
Live long and prosper!

Bernie 2016!

Lois Jordan (63)
Monday May 11, 2015, 1:11 pm
Noted. Thanks for posting, Lucy.
I would definitely have preferred to completely dump the entire Patriot Act, too. But, if we can get rid of Section 215, at least it's a starting point. I know that every year this Act continues to be in place it will be harder to get rid of though because it soon becomes entrenched.
Gladly signed all the petitions posted; and sending the ACLU another small donation (I donate monthly).

Birgit W (160)
Monday May 11, 2015, 1:47 pm
Edward Snowden is a hero. Thanks for sharing.

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Monday May 11, 2015, 2:10 pm
Whether Edward Snowden is a hero or a traitor seems to divide two types of citizens, those that want to close their eyes & let the government bamboozle them out of their Constitutional rights & those who seek transparency in government & want to be able to make informed decisions & choices. My opinion is that a democracy cannot function correctly with major decisions being taken in secret... and without whistleblowers we would never know about some of the foul things the government has done & is doing behind our backs!

For Jan's perusal - the Wiki article on "New York Times Co. v. United States" - Introduction:

"New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971), was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the First Amendment. The ruling made it possible for the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers to publish the then-classified Pentagon Papers without risk of government censorship or punishment.[1]

President Richard Nixon had claimed executive authority to force the Times to suspend publication of classified information in its possession. The question before the court was whether the constitutional freedom of the press, guaranteed by the First Amendment, was subordinate to a claimed need of the executive branch of government to maintain the secrecy of information. The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment did protect the right of the New York Times to print the materials."

NYReview of Books - "More Than Fit to Print," book review of "Inside the Pentagon Papers," edited by John Prados and Margaret Pratt Porter (by Anthony Lewis, former New York Times columnist, & two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize.)

"Prados and Porter include contributions from a number of the study’s authors in their book. An especially interesting one is by Melvin Gurtov, who came from RAND and did the study on the years from the end of World War II and the French return to Indochina to the Geneva Conference of 1954, at which Vietnam was partitioned. He offers some general conclusions he draws from the Pentagon Papers."

" “The crux of these documents,” Gurtov writes,

“was what they revealed about the DUPLICITY of US leaders, who CONSISTENTLY LIED to the American people, the Congress, and the press about many aspects of the war in the Kennedy and Johnson years. Presidents and their national security advisers knew the war was being lost, knew their Vietnamese opponents had popular support while their allies in Saigon did not, and knew that military firepower was no substitute for political legitimacy. But they told the American people the OPPOSITE.”

"Gurtov also praises Daniel Ellsberg for getting the papers to the public. It was “an act of GREAT COURAGE,” Gurtov says, to which I would add, one for which Ellsberg paid a heavy price in right-wing attacks unaffected by the realities of the losing war in Vietnam. "

Janet B (0)
Monday May 11, 2015, 2:26 pm

Ken O (55)
Monday May 11, 2015, 2:36 pm
Right, they're going to stop collecting everyone's phone calls? And, Nyack Clancy, they've ALWAYS been able to track phone calls, it's NEVER been impossible and never will be. As for Jan, look Ed Snowden is a national hero to anyone but right wing nut jobs just as the "Patriot" act is an abomination to everyone in the country but right wing nut jobs.

David B (34)
Monday May 11, 2015, 7:33 pm
Snowden might be vindicate he might be , but i'll bet her still wont be coming home any time soon .

David B (34)
Monday May 11, 2015, 7:35 pm
Nyack it wont stop that kind of trace , it's the everyday garden variety they want stopped .
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