So now it’s official, Edward Snowden revealed unconstitutional activity by the US government. And so he has to hide out in Russia. We all deserve better than this, and thank goodness we still have a judiciary which isn’t afraid to tell the truth.
Snowden has been a whistle-blower all along and while I want us to be spying on the bad guys, what the NSA has been doing has been anything but. After all, the Fed does nothing about the Tsarnaev brothers after being given clear evidence they were terrorists and yet they need to collect every single email and phone call made by American citizens? It’s a combination of incompetence and hubris, and must stop.
And, of course, it took a conservative activist and the father of a Navy SEAL who died in Afghanistan to sue the government and Verizon in order to get this ruling. God bless them both.
Thanks to a leak of classified documents by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, we learned this summer that Verizon (and presumably other phone companies) were regularly handing over to the federal government metadata for all of their customers. Metadata being a fancy word for lists of all the phone calls made, which numbers were calling which numbers and how long those conversations lasted. While jaws were still on the floor regarding the scope of such collection, which would include hundreds of millions of people (including you, unless you don’t have a phone), two Verizon subscribers got to work drafting up a lawsuit. Larry Klayman, a conservative activist, and Charles Strange, father of a Navy SEAL who died in Afghanistan, sued the federal government as well as Verizon, saying that the phone company handing over their information to the feds was a violation of the U.S. Constitution and an “outrageous” breach of privacy. In a scathing opinion out of the District Court of D.C. Monday, federal judge Richard Leon agreed with them, saying the phone metadata collection program is “almost certainly” unconstitutional.
Calling the wholesale download of America’s phonecall activity “Orwellian,” Judge Leon writes that the NSA’s collection and querying efforts “likely violate the Fourth Amendment.” This is a huge deal. This is a classified program that has been in place for seven years that has been collecting information about most anyone with a phone, reviewed only by judges from a secret surveillance court. Brought into the open only because of documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a federal judge now says on an initial review that it is likely unconstitutional.
Do click through and read the whole thing.
— Trevor Timm (@trevortimm) December 16, 2013