When Will the United States Government Quit Spying On Its People?
Haven’t we had enough of this federal surveillance on US citizens?
You know the ones where they don’t even bother to get warrants from the courts beforehand?
And when they do bother to get a warrant, apparently, the court rubber stamps the request without checking on justification. Remember the FISA warrant fiasco where the FBI basically lied to spy on a presidential campaign?
If you remember, some years ago, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden spilled the beans about government mass surveillance of the telephone records of Americans. And an appeals court found the program to be unlawful — further stating that leaders of the US intelligence agencies who defended their action were flat out lying.
The court ruling came from the characteristically lenient Ninth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals. The court stated that the telephone dragnet where millions of citizen phone records were collected by the Feds without warrants were in direct violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and was also unconstitutional.
Snowden, who was a wanted man after once fleeing to Russia, stated that the ruling was a vindication of his going public about the NSA conducting its domestic spying operations.
“I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA’s activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them,” Snowden posted out to his Twitter account.
Shocking evidence indicating the NSA was amassing a secret database of US phone records. These records contained the personal information about millions of Americans.
Prior to this expose, top officials in the intelligence agencies swore that NSA agents never ever gathered personal information on Americans knowingly. But then once their lies were exposed, US officials changed their argument with claim that their spying played a critical role in fighting domestic terrorism and extremism.
In particular, they cited a case of four San Diego residents who supposedly provided aid to religious extremists in Somalia.
US officials claimed that these four dangerous people — Mohamed Mohamud, Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, and Issa Doreh — all got convicted because of the NSA’s phone record spying. Yet the Ninth Circuit slapped that story down and ruled their claims were “inconsistent with the contents of the classified record.”
The court stated that the ruling won’t affect these convictions. They further ruled that this illegal surveillance will not taint any evidence gathered and introduced during their trial.
Several watchdog groups, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which helped appeal the case, actually embraced the judges’ ruling on NSA’s spy program.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for our privacy rights,” the ACLU posted in a statement, further stating it “makes plain that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records violated the Constitution.”