American court makes spying with warrantless wiretaps legal

September 11, 2001 changed the world. As a result of 9/11, then USA President George W. Bush introduced what has come to be known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program, a program that allows the NSA (National Security Agency) to spy on conversations between an American and someone from outside the USA without requiring a court-issued warrant. This, of course, has been challenged in US courts multiple times but only one lawsuit was able to actually score a win against the Terrorist Surveillance Program, a case where two American lawyers were awarded $20,000 in damages (plus $2.5 million their lawyers were paid in fees) after they proved they were spied on without warrants. The US government appealed against the decision and a now the ruling by the Appeals Court is in: It is officially legal to spy on Americans (and outside parties) with warrantless wiretaps.

According to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the laws regulating domestic spying allow Americans to bring lawsuits against the American government for the use of information collected without warrants but “not for the collection of the information itself”. The court admitted this may be “anomalous and even unfair” but that the “policy judgment is one for Congress, not the courts”.

The final decision by the court leads to the conclusion that warrantless domestic wiretaps are legal, at least in this particular case. In the Court’s own words,

This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs’ ongoing attempts to hold the executive branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization

What a world we live in. The USA is supposed to be a beacon of freedom and human rights in world filled with messed up places yet our government is allowed to spy on us with little to no oversight. Looks like democracy can’t solve everything.

[via Wired | Image credit: EFF]

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  1. ovl


    Your username does not reflect your intellectual potential – I meant that, but you did not get it, which is not a surprise at all. Thomas Jefferson said what he said and there is no need to misinterpret what he exactly said about the “Safety and Happiness” of his nation.

    Who told you, mr. seaman, that I “place so much trust in what the government says”, but I trust the general Hayden – the highly professional and noble man. Take a good look at the situation in Europe now (I am not talking about the economy). I do not want my country to repeat their mistakes. “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

    Regarding your thoughtful guidance to live “somewhere like North Korea”, b/c “they have excellent security”. They do not have and could not have “excellent security” because marionette entity cannot have it. But if you dislike your country’s approach to its Security, you can reserve a place in Dubai – they have a Sea port for “admirals” and they do not need to put in place any security measures, so the threat of blowing your ass up there is very minimal. Decapitation could not intimidate you, too, because someone cannot lose what he does not have. Sorry for any inconvenience.

  2. AdmiralDeath


    Well I never Claimed to be an Admiral. Just my username. I highly doubt that Thomas Jefferson intended people to take that quote as above all else. He understood that while security should be provided it MUST be balanced with freedom. I don’t know why you place so much trust in what the government says. They have proven time and again that they abuse their power. If you are interested in nothing but security why not live somewhere like North Korea? They have excellent security but not too many freedoms.

  3. ovl


    You are not an admiral – you’re the ordinary seaman apprentice.

    Read the next quotation of Thomas Jefferson: “The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in Safety and Happiness…In war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy all of them”.

    Because you are a pseudo admiral, you never heard anything about the real U.S. General Michael Vincent Hayden. Four Star General and the highest-ranking military intelligence officer in the armed forces Michael Hayden (who was, also, the former Director of the National Security Agency and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency) recently said that the NSA intercepts phone calls and e-mails “For only one purpose – to Protect the lives, the Liberties and the Well-Being of the citizens of the United States from those who would do us harm.”

  4. ovl

    @Patrick C:

    “U.S. Government has converted the “Axis of Evil” into the “Reign of Fear”… US Government has abducted hundreds of innocent people worldwide, kept them imprisoned…. on the basis of pertinent lies and falsified information… The same people also sent soldiers into Afghanistan with no result at all… Bush and his band of…

    Don’t want to waste the time answering this bunch of crap and cesspit statements. “Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to Evil.” Always remember it, educate yourself, pal, because gabbing from the cave never helped anyone.

  5. Patrick C

    – Bush Jr. and his administration let the whole Saudi-tribe fly home while the complete US-airspace was shut down, even for lawabiding US-citizens within their own county. The Bush family has a longstanding close relationship with the Saudis. The Saudis are one of the major investors in terorrism worldwide… The Saudis have huge interests in the US economy…
    – Since 9/11 nearly all western nations have installed legalisation to make it possible for government agencies and powerfull private corporations to infringe on citizen’s privacy and freedom of speech… In the name of “national security”.
    Governments and multinationals have converted the “Axis of Evil” into the “Reign of Fear”.
    – US Government has abducted hundreds of innocent people worldwide, kept them imprisonned (even tortured a lot more than the few individuals ovl refers to) without any respect for international law and sent them back without any explanation or form of compensation.
    – It was the Bush administration and the UK who – on the basis of pertinent lies and falsified information – sent thousends of soldiers to Iraq, leaving a total mess behind.
    – The same people also sent soldiers into Afghanistan with no result at all.

    @ovl: you live in a Utopia of your own, one that many know where you got it from. Post 9/11 events and legislation has cost more lives than it has saved and hasn’t made this world any safer than it was before, quite to the contrary. Freedom is not safe indeed, but it’s worth a lot more than the prison you seem to advocate. And while we’re at it: plse. tell who profitted most of the whole Bush-sharade? In your eyes I must be a leftist potentially dangerous terorrist in spe. Sorry to dissappoint you. The US has, through the workings of Bush et al., lost more of it’s image as leading democracy and defender of human rights than will be set right in the decennia to come. Think of the price citizens have already payed for the present financial and economic crisis. Or are you really going to say that that is not linked to Bush and his band of…
    Whose Utopia?? Not mine, I have none and I know why not.

  6. ovl


    I see your Utopia and understand where you came from. Thousands lives have been saved after 9/11 due to the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” and the other security programs. Certainly, *freedom is not safe* for those who wants to kill us in the U.S. like they did in Mumbai, Madrid, London, Bali, Beslan, Jakarta, Istanbul, Casablanca, Abuja, etc. We cannot afford to allow terrorists and their Fifth Column to use and abuse our freedom so they can easily exterminate us. You are waiting “for chance that something awful will happen” here but I am not – this is the difference between us.

  7. meldasue

    @ovl: A charity providing nothing but humanitarian aid to Palestinians was deemed ‘terrorist’ by the US simply because by providing aid to people in Gaza, it freed Hamas to spend its money on terrorist activities. So while Al-Haramain Islamic Charity Foundation might truly be connected to terrorism, forgive me if I’m not taking the US government’s word for it.

    Even if they are nothing but a smokescreen to provide money to Al Qaeda, the concept of freedom means that even criminals are protected from unreasonable search and seizure and entitled to due process of the law. Yes, that might crimp the government’s ability to intercept real terrorists and real threats, but *freedom is not safe*. It means taking a chance that something awful will happen. Ask people in countries with very intrusive police rights if they feel safe.

  8. ovl

    There is no need to be depressed and look for a new planet, because we are living in the post-9/11 era — and it is a different era:

    Three individuals, whose conversations were intercepted by NSA, are: Suliman al-Buthe, Asim Ghafoor and Wendell Belew. They had phone contacts on U.S. soil with Saudi Arabia “clients”.

    Suliman Al-Buthe, who traveled intermittently to the United States but resided in Saudi Arabia, was one of the directors of the Ashland Corporation located in Oregon. In Ashland, Oregon was the branch of the Al-Haramain Islamic Charity Foundation based in Saudi Arabia. Asim Ghafoor and Wendell Belew worked as lawyers for that Foundation. In September 2004, Al-Haramain Islamic Charity Foundation was proclaimed by the U.S. Treasury Department as the entity who has “direct links” with Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and supporting international terrorism. (BTW, this charity is banned now worldwide and all of its assets were seized by the Department of Treasury).

    Subsequently these two Al-Haramain’s lawyers/plaintiffs (Ghafoor and Belew) lost their case in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs’ ongoing attempts to hold the executive branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization… Although such a structure may seem anomalous and even unfair, the policy judgment is one for Congress, not the courts.”, because Congress authorized Bush’s “Terrorist Surveillance Program” in 2008.

  9. Mary

    You know, continually reading things like this is disheartening. What is this world becoming? We are a species of human beings that let our lives be controlled by fear of the unknown. That is the one thing that causes the rest of the negativity on this planet. Discrimination, greed, power. It all stems from fear. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just become educated, and respect each others differences and finally live in peace? I am all for diversity, as it brings different and new things to us, to share and to enjoy, but I swear the world is going mad. Sad thing is, the majority of us sit back and let it happen, hoping ‘someone else’ will “fix it”.

    My heart goes out to all the all the soldiers, and their families, from everywhere, who volunteered (or not) their lives to fight for what they were taught and believed in. Had we all been educated about each other, we might not be in the situation we are in now, or even in the past.

    I’m ready to find a new planet to call home, cuz the human species on this one scares me more than an alien one would.

    God bless us all. (or whatever you call your higher power.)