This past week, helping the cause of Edward Snowden, the federal 2nd circuit ruled that the NSA’s wiretapping program was not authorized under the Patriot Act. It is important to remember that history is written by the victors. Now that it seems it’s only a matter of time before the judiciary rules that the government is violating all of our constitutional rights by reading our texts, emails, phone calls etc. without a warrant, how will Edward Snowden be remembered? If you can’t speak freely without worrying the government will hear you, we as a people will never grow. Whether or not you agree with his method, what the government did and continues to do is plain un-american in the purest sense of the meaning. Being a proud American isn’t in favor of a strong overreaching State. It’s supporting the 4th amendment and what our founding fathers believed in. We shouldn’t allow the terrorists to win the war on our privacy. There will always be enemies of the State and new threats. However, we should never change our beliefs in privacy, freedom, and liberty because of those threats. Being in favor of broad NSA powers under Patriot act is being in favor of regimes that we purposely have always fought against. One may argue that the government is only going after terrorists organizations and members. But, who guards the vanguard? What happens when administrations change? What if the next administration wants to open it up more? We will be looking at 1984… big brother is watching.
So, the 2nd circuit blasted the NSA metadata collecting program. However, will this put a stop to the government collection of all citizens media data? It would have been better if the court ruled based on the 4th amendment of the constitution against unreasonable searches than under a statutory ruling. That type of ruling would have much more standing and power to end the government action. Let’s all hope the time comes for a more powerful ruling soon.
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In a decision fresh off the presses, the Second Circuit has put the kibosh on the NSA’s now-infamous warrantless collection of America’s phone records. The decision vacates Judge Pauley’s December 2013 decision dismissing the ACLU’s challenge to the program.
In a comprehensive opinion written by Judge Gerard Lynch (empaneled with Judge Robert Sack and District Judge Vernon Broderick, sitting by designation), the court sharply criticizes the NSA for exceeding congressional authority:
Such expansive development of government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans. Perhaps such a contraction is required by national security needs in the face of the dangers of contemporary domestic and international terrorism. But we would expect such a momentous decision to be preceded by substantial debate, and expressed in unmistakable language. There is no evidence of such a debate in the legislative history of § 215, and the language of the statute, on its face, is not naturally read as permitting investigative agencies, on the approval of the FISC, to do any more than obtain the sorts of information routinely acquired in the course of criminal investigations of “money laundering [and] drug dealing.”
To the government’s argument that the program should be beyond challenge, the opinion states:
In short, the government relies on bits and shards of inapplicable statutes, inconclusive legislative history, and inferences from silence in an effort to find an implied revocation of the APA’s authorization of challenges to government actions. That is not enough to overcome the strong presumption of the general command of the APA against such implied preclusion. Congress, of course, has the ability to limit the remedies available under the APA; it has only to say so. But it has said no such thing here. We should be cautious in inferring legislative action from legislative inaction, or inferring a Congressional command from Congressional silence.
It wasn’t all good news for fans of privacy though. The Second Circuit did not reach any of the constitutional issues urged by the ACLU, limiting its decision to statutory authorization. It also upheld the denial of a preliminary injunction to halt the program while the matter is litigated, opting instead to boot that question back to the S.D.N.Y. to decide in light of this opinion.
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