US judge says NSA phone surveillance is legal, necessary to stop terrorism

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The America Civil Liberties Union has sought to block the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass collection of telephone data. In June, the ACLU brought a lawsuit hoping to gain an injunction against the NSA to keep them from collecting data on US citizens via mass collection. However, a new ruling says that what the NSA is doing is actually completely legal.

Judge William Pauley’s ruling claimed that the government was not abusing its data collection power, September 11th happened because US intelligence agencies didn’t have enough information, and it is neseccary to conduct such mass data collection to prevent similar attacks:

“There is no evidence that the Government has used any of the bulk telephony metadata it collected for any purpose other than investigating and disrupting terrorist attacks. While there have been unintentional violation of guidelines, those appear to stem from human error and the incredibly complex computer programs that support this vital tool. And once detected, those violations were self-reported and stopped. The bulk telephony metadata collection program is subject to executive and congressional oversight, as well as continual monitoring by a dedicated group of judges who sit on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

[…]

[Al-Qaeda’s plot] succeeded because conventional intelligence gathering could not detect diffuse filaments connecting al-Qaeda.

No doubt, the bulk telephony metadata collection program vacuums up information about virtually every telephone call to, from, or within the United states. That is by design, as it allows the NSA to detect relationships so attenuated and ephemeral they would otherwise escape notice. As the September 11th attacks demonstrate, the cost of missing such a thread can be horrific.”

The ACLU maintains that the practice violates American’s First and Forth amendment rights and will continue their fight against it.

[via CNet, Reuters]

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4 comments

  1. JMJ

    [@Darcy] I agree with you almost entirely. The checks-and-balances built into the American system of government are brilliant, superb and do work eventually and most of the time… in accordance with the “Master Plan for Worldwide Control”. Like you said, governments and agencies (NSA, CIA, FBI, etc.) are made up by real, living human beings who are subject to politics, prejudices, particular viewpoints, values and the zeitgeist that will affect their behaviors. For example: The Supreme Court once held that slavery was legal; that women had no right to vote; and that homosexuality was a crime. Today, that “same” Supreme Court holds diametrically opposite opinions. Weird and self-contradictory but that’s what we human are, no?

    I am one of those tin-foil-hat-wearing kind of persons who believes that enormously powerful and deeply secret oligarchies actually control governments. Entities like the NSA (BTW: aka, No Such Agency) are only the tips of those icebergs we are actually ALLOWED to see… with a bit of determined digging. What we will NEVER see are the real powers that drive and manipulate our world.

  2. Darcy

    [@rizal] Not exactly, the three branches are separate for a reason and the courts have never been afraid to put a stop to anything they find against the law. That said, they are human and as prone to having prejudices as anyone else. Each party tries to pack the court with their own appointees when they are in control so you can’t have a completely impartial court. Best we can hope for is one that at least tries to interpret things honestly, a faint hope I admit.