NSA spying illegal, United States court rules

This 3 February 2015 video from Canada is called Edward Snowden Speaks to World Affairs Conference 2015.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Court: NSA records collection illegal

Friday 8th May 2015

A US federal appeals court ruled yesterday that government snooping into private telephone records exceeded congressional authorisation.

The case, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, had previously been dismissed by a lower court.

But the second circuit appeals court said that the judge in the first case was wrong to rule that the National Security Agency’s collection of millions of innocent citizens’ phone records was legal.

However, the court declined to block the program, saying it was now up to Congress to decide if it should continue.

It said a debate in Congress could profoundly alter the legal landscape.

The US Congress authorised the NSA to collect such data on terrorist suspects following the September 11 2001 attacks on New York and Virginia.

But in 2013 NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents that showed that the powers were being abused to spy on millions of non-suspect US citizens.

See also here.

Computer programs used by the National Security Agency (NSA) automatically analyze intercepted voice communications in real time, allowing NSA analysts to process what agency officials call an ever-increasing “tsunami” of data, according to documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published this week by The Intercept: here.

In the latest episode of the political theater known as “surveillance reform,” the US House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act Wednesday, by a vote of 338 to 88. If approved by the Senate, the bill would modify and reenact Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, a main legislative pillar of the police-state measures put in place since 9/11. The act is currently set to expire on June 1: here.

Canada’s parliament adopts bill to greatly expand intelligence agencies’ powers: here.

29 thoughts on “NSA spying illegal, United States court rules

  1. And everyone is pissed at Snowden. This is exactly why the NSA is pissed at him. He knew about this a long time back. They didn’t want it to get out. As long as we have our current administration in the White House ,this gonna be normal


  2. Huge news: A federal court just ruled that the NSA’s program for spying on nearly all domestic phone calls is illegal.1 But the USA ‘FREEDOM’ Act that the House passed on Wednesday would reauthorize the PATRIOT Act and risk creating a new legal authority for some of the very same surveillance practices that the court just ruled are illegal.

    Please join over 122,000 CREDO activists who already signed the petition against reauthorizing Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act via the USA FREEDOM Act.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik
    CREDO action
    Tell Congress: Don’t reauthorize the PATRIOT Act

    Tell Congress:
    “Oppose the USA FREEDOM Act, which would reauthorize the worst sections of the PATRIOT Act, fail to end mass surveillance, legalize currently illegal surveillance activities, and grant immunity to corporations that collaborate to violate privacy rights.”

    Add your name:
    Sign the petition ►

    Dear Friend,

    It’s been almost two years since Edward Snowden brought public attention to the breathtaking scope of President Obama’s indiscriminate spying on American citizens. And now there are identical bills in the House and the Senate that could effectively reauthorize the PATRIOT Act without fixing the worst constitutional abuses by the NSA.1

    We can’t let Congress effectively reauthorize the PATRIOT Act for an additional 4 years, legalize currently illegal surveillance activities, and grant immunity to corporations that collaborate to violate privacy rights.

    But that’s exactly what the deceptively-named USA FREEDOM Act would do. That’s why groups like CREDO, PCCC and Demand Progress are joining with whistleblowers like William Binney, Kirk Wiebe and Thomas Drake to oppose reauthorization of PATRIOT Act Section 215 via the USA Freedom Act. 2

    Tell Congress: Oppose the USA FREEDOM Act, which would reauthorize the PATRIOT Act. Click here to sign the petition.

    If Congress does nothing, dangerous sections of the PATRIOT Act will expire, including Section 215, which has been exploited by the government to conduct unconstitutional warrantless mass surveillance on Americans’ accused of no crimes.

    Under incredible public pressure, the White House and surveillance agencies have telegraphed acquiescence to minimal reforms in exchange for extension of Section 215. These minimal reforms are a trojan horse, and the legislation proposed would eviscerate numerous court challenges to lawless surveillance and provide for legal immunization and compensation of companies that provide the government with customers’ private information, even where that company knows it is unlawful.

    Civil liberties advocates have tried to make the bill better but it appears to be beyond fixing. The House Judiciary committee failed to pass amendments to fix the bill. And it will almost certainly get worse in the Senate.

    The USA FREEDOM Act as written has significant potential to make the current status quo for unconstitutional surveillance worse, not better. This is unacceptable. The modest changes within this bill fail to truly reform mass surveillance, of Americans and others, conducted under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 and Executive Order 12333.

    Like they have repeatedly in the past, the NSA and other intelligence agencies will do everything in their power to evade the modest restrictions in the USA FREEDOM Act and torture the English language to find justifications for ever more-expansive surveillance. That’s exactly what the NSA did with Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to justify its telephone records dragnet.

    And because Congressional leadership and the House and Senate Intelligence committees are totally unable or unwilling to provide meaningful oversight of our spy agencies, we won’t even find out about the NSA’s new schemes until another whistleblower surfaces in 10 or 20 years.

    At best, even if faithfully implemented, the current bill will erect limited barriers to only one of three known legal justifications for the unconstitutional, dragnet surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers. Given intelligence agencies’ eagerness to subvert any attempts by Congress to rein in massive surveillance programs by changing the legal authorities under which they operate, the modest, proposed changes are no reform at all.

    Tell Congress: Oppose the USA FREEDOM Act, which would reauthorize the PATRIOT Act. Click here to sign the petition.

    CREDO supports Reps. Mark Pocan and Thomas Massie and their Surveillance State Repeal Act. A true reform bill it would fully repeal the PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendments Act, and Executive Order 12333 — all of which are used to justify mass surveillance against Americans — and create important protections for whistleblowers.

    And even if that important bill were passed, more would need to be done to create real accountability for the NSA, the FBI, the CIA and other secret intelligence agencies that routinely violate our civil liberties.

    If Congress can’t pass the Surveillance State Repeal Act, it should simply allow the worst parts of the PATRIOT Act to expire. Passing the USA FREEDOM Act would fail to stop mass surveillance and would send America’s secret intelligence agencies a clear message that they will never face accountability for breaking the law to spy on Americans. What’s more it would allow pro-surveillance members of Congress to blunt momentum for further reform by claiming that they’d fixed the problem, even though the bill only moderately restricts one of several laws abused by the government to spy on Americans.

    We have to act quickly. With the PATRIOT Act provisions set to expire on June 1, this fight will move very quickly. Please take action today. Click the link below to sign the petition:


    Thank you for taking action.

    Becky Bond, Political Director
    CREDO Action from Working Assets

    Add your name:

    Sign the petition ►

    1. David Kravets, ” The good, bad, and the ugly of pending congressional surveillance bills,” Ars Technica, April 29, 2015.
    2. Steven Nelson, “NSA Whistleblowers Oppose Freedom Act, Endorse Long-Shot Bill,” U.S. News & World Report, April 27, 2015

    © 2015 CREDO. All rights reserved.


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