A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency program which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States is likely to be unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the program appears to run afoul of the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. He also said the Justice Department had failed to demonstrate that collecting the so-called metadata had helped to head off terrorist attacks.
“Plaintiffs have a very significant expectation of privacy in an aggregated collection of their telephone metadata covering the last five years, and the NSA’s Bulk Telephony Metadata Program significantly intrudes on that expectation,” wrote Leon, an appointee of President George W. Bush. “I have significant doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism.”
“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval,” Leon added.
Similar lawsuits challenging the program are pending in at least three other federal courts around the country.
Digging into the 68 Page Ruling
Those wishing to read the entire 68 page ruling can do so at Legal Times.
Unfortunately the PDF is in image form.
Here are image clips of sections not mentioned elsewhere by others.
Click on any image for sharper view.
Leon Blasts Government for "Wanting It Both Ways" - page 38
Plaintiffs Are Likely to Succeed on Merits of Their Fourth Amendment Claim page 42
"Collection and Analysis of Telephony Metadata Constitutes a Search" page 43
"Almost-Orwellian Technology" - page 49
"Significant Likelihood Searches are Unreasonable" - Page 56
On the same page Leon notes "As a general matter, warrantless searches are per se unreasonable under the fourth amendment".
On page 61 Leon stated "The government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA's bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack."
Government Barred from Bulk Data Collection
You have to love the end!
On page 67-68
This is a rare victory for common sense and the constitution. However, the ruling is subject to review from a higher court.
Expect Obama to fight hard to maintain unreasonable searches.
We can thank patriot and true American hero Edward Snowden for this important victory. In contrast, House speaker John Boenner stands with President Obama in making a constitutional fool of himself.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock