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Judge Slams NSA

Poor poor NSA. Just last night, 60 minutes gave them a 20-minute infomercial about how wonderful they are. And all the Obama supporters, who blasted CBS for their Benghazi story, fell in line and said it reassured them.

And then, today, this:

A federal judge said Monday that he believes the government’s once-secret collection of domestic phone records is unconstitutional, setting up likely appeals and further challenges to the data mining revealed by classified leaker Edward Snowden.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of metadata — phone records of the time and numbers called without any disclosure of content — apparently violates privacy rights.
His preliminary ruling favored five plaintiffs challenging the practice, but Leon limited the decision only to their cases.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” said Leon, an appointee of President George W. Bush. “Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

Leon’s ruling said the “plaintiffs in this case have also shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits of a Fourth Amendment claim,” adding “as such, they too have adequately demonstrated irreparable injury.”
He rejected the government’s argument that a 1979 Maryland case provided precedent for the constitutionality of collecting phone metadata, noting that public use of telephones had increased dramatically in the past three decades.

This will certainly be appealed. Judge Leon didn’t overturn Smith vs. Maryland. What he did was make the pretty straight-forward argument that the information the government was collecting in 1979 by bugging an exchange for a few days to see who someone was calling is different from automatically slurping up comprehensive meta-data about millions of Americans every day. Check here for the ACLU’s demonstration of what can be done with “just” meta-data.

The usual suspects are decrying Judge Leon’s decision, although that seems entirely motivated by the lawsuit having been brought by, among others, Larry Klayman. Personally, I don’t care if the lawsuit was brought by Tarzan of the Apes. The fact is that the NSA’s meta-data collection program, which was kept secret until Snowden’s leaks, has to be addressed by the Supreme Court, not by some secret FISA Court.

27 comments

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  1. richtaylor365 says:

    The next level of scrutiny will be the DC Court of Appeals, and what a coincidence, Obama just packed the court with two of his leftest buddies. But what is a good leftest to do? Clearly the very idea of the NSA is anathema to any lib with a shred of self respect, do they go with their ivory tower elitist cronies, or do they back Obama’s play? Don’t wanna bite the hand that feeds you, what a dilemma.

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  2. Hal_10000 says:

    It will go to SCOTUS over DC Court. But both Bush and Obama have been appointing justices who defer to government authority, especially on these matters. Alito, Roberts, Kagan and Sotomayor will probably all vote with the Feds.

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  3. Seattle Outcast says:

    My wife watched the 60 Minutes NSA blowjob the other night took back some of the “but it makes us safe” BS. My buddy and I gave equal time to the concepts of “prove it or stop it”, “expectation of privacy”, “due process”, and “why on earth would you trust these fuckers, for whom everthing is a secret court for a secret warrant, and it never gets the light of day?”

    What has gotten in the head of people that they just fucking greenlight an ongoing fishing expedition by the cops against EVERYONE?

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  4. salinger says:

    He rejected the government’s argument that a 1979 Maryland case provided precedent for the constitutionality of collecting phone metadata, noting that public use of telephones had increased dramatically in the past three decades.

    The judge also cited the advances in technology since the 70s.

    I find this a valid argument – just as I find the difference in firearm technology as a reasonable impetus to revisit the 19th century vintage 2nd amendment.

    How are the two different?

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  5. richtaylor365 says:

    It will go to SCOTUS over DC Court.

    SCOTUS, probably, but the next stop will be the DC Court of Appeals.

    And I don’t think the issues involved here are as cut and dry as some on the blog indicate. The original Maryland decision stated that unlike a personal conversation between two people in a secluded location (where there is an expectation of privacy) a phone conversation is a bit different in that there exists a third party, the phone company, which documents and keeps records of when and to who that phone call was made.

    And I don’t think the justices on SCOTUS will align themselves as neatly on specific sides as you indicate, there a number of interesting takes and side issues when dealing with the NSA, national security, privacy issues, and ever growing technological sophistication.

    How are the two different?

    Well, the easy answer is that the Second Amendment is a Constitutionally protected right that the government cannot infringe upon. But if you feel that strongly about guns and their hazards within society, there is a ready made solution, a procedure within the Constitution for you to change it, just muster up enough support with other like minded citizens, and there you go.

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  6. richtaylor365 says:

    That’s weird. After signing in, writing my comment, then clicking the “Submit Comment” button, I got an error message saying I needed to sign in first, but I already was signed in. I had to open a separate signed in window to submit. More site complications.

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  7. AlexInCT says:

    I had to open a separate signed in window to submit. More site complications.

    Rich, that’s probably a browser setting issue. If you have cookies disabled or cleared out, the sites login status and the connection to discus are not seamless, and you have to double sign in to clear that issue up.

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  8. richtaylor365 says:

    Oh, OK, just thought it was weird because in the past there was never a problem and I use the same computer and browser (Chrome) every time. But here is something else, In re reading my comment, I just noticed that my third paragraph is entirely missing (WTF), I’ll go back and fix it now. Maybe I should just stay in bed today and avoid the piano that is likely to be dropped on my head.

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  9. Dave D says:

    “But if you feel that strongly about guns and their hazards within society, there is a ready made solution, a procedure within the Constitution for you to change it, just muster up enough support with other like minded citizens, and there you go.”

    That’s not the way the left does things. They’d rather stack the court with dimwits who think the constitution is a “living, breathing document” and legislate through the courts, finding “rights” never intended and trouncing the ones specifically defined by using relativistic thinking. . Haven’t you learned by now, Rich?

    Also, refresh my memory: How do you blockquote? Sorry!

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  10. salinger says:

    just muster up enough support with other like minded citizens, and there you go.

    Oh, I’m pretty sure we’ll get there. Just have to wait for awhile while the last hanger-ons shake off their mortal coils – like gay marriage – pot legalization etc. – it’ll be a generational thing.

    I was just wondering why changing technologies was reason enough to revisit this privacy law (privacy – that’s a constitution thing too right?) – but not firearm regulations. Then again – perhaps folks don’t think the changing technologies is reason enough to revisit either – perhaps there are some who think every law is sacrosanct and the constitution is immutable.

    Like I said – I think laws should be reviewed with an eye toward technological and social changes – perhaps this ruling will open a few eyes. Lets see how far it gets this time.

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  11. richtaylor365 says:

    Oh, I’m pretty sure we’ll get there. Just have to wait for awhile while the last hanger-ons shake off their mortal coils – like gay marriage – pot legalization etc. – it’ll be a generational thing.

    Highly doubtful, us “hanger ons” can be a pretty stubborn lot. Given that just after Sandy Hook gun purchases and gun permits exploded in that state, and given that;

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2013/1214/A-year-after-Newtown-shootings-America-is-at-crossroads-on-guns-video

    Of more than 1,000 gun-related bills introduced in the states since Sandy Hook, thirty-nine laws were passed, the majority of them in California, that make it more difficult to obtain a gun or certain kinds of magazines, while 73 laws were passed that make it easier to obtain or wield a gun, mostly in already gun-friendly states, according to a New York Times review.

    the fight to vitiate our ability and our rights to own firearms, in my mind, is a fools errand.

    (privacy – that’s a constitution thing too right?)

    The right to privacy is not mentioned in the Constitution, but the Supreme Court (through clearly defined parameters and restrictions) has said that some of the amendments create this right. But the right to privacy is subject to interpretation, the inherent right to own or possess a firearm is not.

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  12. AlexInCT says:

    Oh, I’m pretty sure we’ll get there. Just have to wait for awhile while the last hanger-ons shake off their mortal coils – like gay marriage – pot legalization etc. – it’ll be a generational thing.

    Your problem isn’t the hanger-ons but your lack of respect for the US constitution. The sad thing is that I bet you won’t be around to suffer the effects from the giant shit sandwich people like you are creating.

    Highly doubtful, us “hanger ons” can be a pretty stubborn lot.

    Well the second amendment gives them that stubbornness. Pray that we stay stubborn and on guard a against Leviathan and its need to disarm the sheeple.

    the fight to vitiate our ability and our rights to own firearms, in my mind, is a fools errand.

    Evil people and the tyrants they worship feel you are the fool for not allowing them to do what they know is best for you. Fuck these idiots and their evil ways is what I say. Nobody deserves more scorn and humiliation than these constitution violating progressive cock suckers.

    The right to privacy is not mentioned in the Constitution, but the Supreme Court (through clearly defined parameters and restrictions) has said that some of the amendments create this right. But the right to privacy is subject to interpretation, the inherent right to own or possess a firearm is not.

    The left only cares about the constitution, or for that matter the law, morality, or anything else, says when it agrees with their agenda. When it doesn’t they ignore it or make it up whole cloth. It’s a fucking death cult that murdered over 100 million people, imprisoned billions, and is not yet content with the misery and bloodshed. But it is all being done for our own good since we are too stupid to know what’s good for us anyway…

    Again, fuck I hate these people.

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  13. salinger says:

    us “hanger ons” can be a pretty stubborn lot.

    Yeah, but there are fewer and fewer of you every year. the higher gun sales are due to the fact that fewer folks are owning more guns. Albeit – you’re a noisy lot.

    We are a democratic republic after all. The numbers are in favor of stricter gun laws – it’ll come to pass. It might still take some time – but it’ll happen. It could even follow the same sex marriage route and just snowball. Remember Bush secured his second election on the back of anti gay marriage initiatives – that wouldn’t fly today.

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  14. Biggie G says:

    How are the two different?

    They are revisiting the old MD case because the advances in technology are being used by the government to infringe on our rights. If you believe the right to privacy is absolute, then the government cannot use advances in technology to skirt around that right.

    Pro-gun people would use the same argument. The right to bear arms is absolute and advances in technology do not mean that the government can infringe on that right.

    The big difference that I see is who is doing the infringing. In the NSA case, the government is infringing on the rights of the people. In your Second Amendment question, how am I infringing on anyone’s rights if I purchase a gun that you don’t think I should have as long as I don’t use it to shoot anyone?

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  15. Xetrov says:

    The judge also cited the advances in technology since the 70s.

    I find this a valid argument – just as I find the difference in firearm technology as a reasonable impetus to revisit the 19th century vintage 2nd amendment.

    How are the two different?

    How are the two comparable at all? Unless you are arguing that any current infringements on the second amendment need to be removed from the books since the 2nd amendment actually states “shall not be infringed.”

    40 years ago cell phones didn’t exist, let alone databases that contained the movements of any American with one. 40 years ago (as well as 222 years ago when the Bill of Rights was ratified) guns still went bang. What major leap in technology, in your opinion, from 1791 to now warrants an infringement (beyond what has already been infringed upon) on the right to keep and bare arms? What technology so fundamentally changed how a gun goes bang in the same scope as a new type of technology that can track the movements of almost every American?

    Yeah, but there are fewer and fewer of you every year

    There is no record anywhere in any government database, registration form, poll or any other indication that I am a gun owner, yet I am. Part of the decline is due to the fact that I (and many others) don’t think it’s any of the government’s business that I am a law abiding gun owner.

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  16. Hal_10000 says:

    Salinger, my take would be the opposite of yours. A lot of glib liberals said, during the last gun control debate, “OK, you can have the kind of arms that were legal in 1793!” But we extend protection on “papers” to include computers and phone calls. We extend “the press” to mean the internet. We redefine “cruel and unusual” by our generations standards. The Constitution lays out broad principles of limiting the power of government, not a snapshot of 18th century life.

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  17. Iconoclast says:

    The judge also cited the advances in technology since the 70s.

    I find this a valid argument – just as I find the difference in firearm technology as a reasonable impetus to revisit the 19th century vintage 2nd amendment.

    How are the two different?

    Up front apologies for a possible thread hijacking…

    In one case, we have government spying on its citizens. In the other, we have citizens protecting themselves. How could the cases be any more different???

    The “technological advance” argument is bogus, because criminals and government are going to get the latest weapons regardless, so law-abiding citizens should have their right to protect themselves against such weapons secured.

    Remember, the role of government is to secure rights, not “provide” them. That distinction is what separates Right from Left as much as anything does.

    One purpose of the Second Amendment should be the notion of keeping government at least a little bit fearful of the citizenry. What keeps being forgotten is the idea that the people in government govern at the consent of those being governed.

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  18. Iconoclast says:

    Oh, I’m pretty sure we’ll get there. Just have to wait for awhile while the last hanger-ons shake off their mortal coils – like gay marriage – pot legalization etc. – it’ll be a generational thing.

    Yes, younger generations are being indoctrinated/brainwashed accordingly as we type.

    The numbers are in favor of stricter gun laws – it’ll come to pass.

    If this is true, all that means is that the leftist agenda being advanced by Academia and the Media is succeeding at brain-washing our youth into being more compliant toward government tyranny.

    It might still take some time – but it’ll happen.

    Sure, the rights secured by the Constitution have been systematically undermined and eroded for decades, ever since the “progressive” movement started. No reason to doubt that this erosion will continue, provided the citizenry is properly brainwashed.

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  19. salinger says:

    The Constitution lays out broad principles of limiting the power of government, not a snapshot of 18th century life.

    True – but neither does it expect us to ignore common sense.
    With this line of reasoning there should be no restrictions on weaponry owned by private citizens at all.

    And how does “well regulated militia” translate into personal arsenal? That’s always seemed a stretch for me and never explained to my satisfaction. (Mainly because the question is simply ignored by 2nd amendment proponents whenever I ask it.)

    Anyway – I was simply pointing out how acknowledging the change in technologies is being selectively applied.

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  20. Hal_10000 says:

    True – but neither does it expect us to ignore common sense.
    With this line of reasoning there should be no restrictions on weaponry owned by private citizens at all.

    At the risk of drifting even further, I don’t oppose all regulations of weapons: see my post about chasing ideals into a corner. But my medium is somewhere north of assault weapons, somewhere south of machine guns and explosives. I realize other people may differ.

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  21. salinger says:

    I realize other people may differ.

    And for this I thank you.

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  22. Xetrov says:

    And how does “well regulated militia” translate into personal arsenal? That’s always seemed a stretch for me and never explained to my satisfaction. (Mainly because the question is simply ignored by 2nd amendment proponents whenever I ask it.)

    Perhaps because you tune out before listening to the answer (“my satisfaction” being the key phrase above)? Oh well, let’s try.

    http://www.constitution.org/tb/t1d12000.htm

    8. A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep, and bear arms, shall not be infringed. Amendments to C. U. S. Art. 4.

    This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty …. The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorise the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty.

    Written by St. George Tucker, who has been cited in over 40 Supreme Court rulings.

    More importantly, I have never seen any writing from that time that alluded to the Second Amendment being anything other than an individual right to keep and bare arms. Can you produce any?

    DC v. Heller – http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZS.html

    Held:

    1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
    Pp. 2–53.
    (a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms.
    Pp. 2–22.
    (b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.
    Pp. 22–28.
    (c) The Court’s interpretation is confirmed by analogous armsbearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed the Second Amendment.
    Pp. 28–30.
    (d) The Second Amendment’s drafting history, while of dubious interpretive worth, reveals three state Second Amendment proposals that unequivocally referred to an individual right to bear arms.
    Pp. 30–32.
    (e) Interpretation of the Second Amendment by scholars, courts and legislators, from immediately after its ratification through the late 19th century also supports the Court’s conclusion.
    Pp. 32–47.

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  23. salinger says:

    anything other than an individual right to keep and bare arms.

    Exactly – we must preserve the right to wear short sleeved shirts.

    But seriously folks:

    The argument you present is logical and plausible. Even so I can see arguments against it (but really do not want to get into this – it was not my intention to point out anything more than the change of technology case being selectively used).

    It still leaves open the lethality of weaponry though.

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  24. Xetrov says:

    That’s all you’ve got? You claim no one has ever rationally explained the first part of the second amendment as it relates to an individual right, and when presented with it, claim you don’t want to get into it, but that you can see arguments against it? Why post in the first place if you were just going to put your fingers in your ears so that you can continue in ignorance? I’ll bet inside of six months you use something along the lines of “And how does “well regulated militia” translate into personal arsenal?…because the question is simply ignored by 2nd amendment proponents whenever I ask it,” again in a conversation about the second amendment.

    But hey, you sure got me on the spelling mistake. Congratz.

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  25. salinger says:

    That’s all you’ve got?

    Nobody has ever answered the question when I asked it before. Even here a couple times. You answered and it was a reasonable reply and I noted as such. The fact that I didn’t want to duke out minutia right now – I’m headed out in ten minutes – doesn’t mean I can’t see arguments against it. (And I’m sure I’m not the only person, since there had to be opposing arguments in the case you’ve cited.)

    That being said – you’ve given me a reasoned answer (sans any name calling to boot – extra kudos for that) – I thank you again – sorry I couldn’t provide you with the fight you seem to be itching for.
    Happy holidays.

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  26. Iconoclast says:

    Second Amendment Resurgence

    Last Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. In the year since a lone deranged individual took the lives of 20 children and six adults, more than 1,500 gun bills have been considered by state legislatures across the country. According to USA Today, 109 of these measures became law; adding to President Obama’s recent 23 Executive actions related to control of firearms. Yet, to the dismay of Democrats, many of the laws are having the opposite effect

    Citizens are rebelling, and Democrats are losing their jobs.

    The Arapahoe shooter took his own life within two minutes of starting his rampage, and after being cornered by an armed guard placed at the school — a safety measure proposed by the NRA following the Newtown shooting. Even though the proposal for having trained and armed personnel at schools was loudly derided by the Left, having an armed guard at the school in Arapahoe saved lives.

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  27. AlexInCT says:

    Even though the proposal for having trained and armed personnel at schools was loudly derided by the Left, having an armed guard at the school in Arapahoe saved lives.

    As if these fucking idiots can ever admit that what they believe in is all bullshit. We have decades of failure and the world plunging into darkness, and these fucking idiots keep pretending that what we need is more of the same stupid and crappy shit they have given us for going on a century now.

    Fuck them all.

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