Court Rules That Mass Surveillance of Americans is Immune From Judicial Review

January 24th, 2010

Via: EFF:

A federal judge has dismissed Jewel v. NSA, a case from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on behalf of AT&T customers challenging the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans’ phone calls and emails.

“We’re deeply disappointed in the judge’s ruling,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “This ruling robs innocent telecom customers of their privacy rights without due process of law. Setting limits on Executive power is one of the most important elements of America’s system of government, and judicial oversight is a critical part of that.”

In the ruling, issued late Thursday, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker held that the privacy harm to millions of Americans from the illegal spying dragnet was not a “particularized injury” but instead a “generalized grievance” because almost everyone in the United States has a phone and Internet service.

“The alarming upshot of the court’s decision is that so long as the government spies on all Americans, the courts have no power to review or halt such mass surveillance even when it is flatly illegal and unconstitutional,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. “With new revelations of illegal spying being reported practically every other week — just this week, we learned that the FBI has been unlawfully obtaining Americans’ phone records using Post-It notes rather than proper legal process — the need for judicial oversight when it comes to government surveillance has never been clearer.”

Jewel v. NSA is aimed at ending the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and holding accountable the government officials who illegally authorized it. Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. That same evidence is central to Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit that’s currently under appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

5 Responses to “Court Rules That Mass Surveillance of Americans is Immune From Judicial Review”

  1. Dennis Says:

    One of the most depressing bits of news I’ve seen in ages. Against the accelerating entrenchment of fascism in the US I still had a scrap of hope in what was left of the ‘separation of powers’ set-up but hearing this…

  2. Kevin Says:

    This is a good read for anyone who believes that the separation of powers construct is functioning as intended:

    Presidential War Power by Louis Fisher

  3. scarletfire Says:

    I think that the only hope left is to create or somehow enhance and capitalize on a schism between the elites themselves. since divide and conquer has worked so well for them in enhancing their grip on power perhaps that can be reversed. Get the bankers to fight the military industrial complex for example..have them compete for the same funds…while not very likely it’s always possible for a banker to suddenly grow a backbone and conscious and fight back a bit with insider info.(or likewise a general)…will have to be outside normal channels however as the courts and the press will be of little help..just brainstorming here so perhaps this has no merit..feel free to point out the error in this!

  4. soothing hex Says:

    What do you mean by “competing for the same funds” ?

    Trying to reverse the divide & conquer strategy might be an interesting approach.

    Just to be safe though : one may assume that the lack of coordination of the massive powers is at the source of a good part of the present mayhem. A strong argument to support this idea is the stupid move that would be the voluntary destruction of ressources.

    Another good part of the mayhem actually has the brilliant coordination of powers at its origin, for instance the ignorance factory that is mass media or the death machine that is the military-industrial complex.

    Simply put, if the elites are still human beings, they probably alternatively fight and work together depending on their interests. Which means that trying to divide them improperly may actually result in a further destruction of the support of the weakest and the environment.

    One must be careful in implementing a reverse divide & conquer strategy. To consider the elite an homogenous entity may prove to be a painful mistake.

    Now, we must suspect that the open and peaceful strategy of cooperative autonomy won’t be tolerated by the matrix – it’s subversive, it’s not in the matrix, it won’t watch tv – hence it becomes necessary for us to take heed of the actions of the department specifically affected to our case. Targeting that department – and others directly confronting us – with a divide & conquer strategy (among others) probably is the most necessary and less destructive defensive move to make.

    In this case, a divide & conquer strategy would include : increased connectivity of autonomists, deep integration in formal & informal local business, submergence of legal actions, disinformation (feeding ’em BS on locations, dates, organizations through their denunciation channels for instance), media exposure (see RATM vs. X-Factor for a smile), conversion of the opposite side’s agents and classical infiltration.

  5. Larry Glick Says:

    If our own government will not honor the Constitution from which it was created, then the people have to protect themselves. We must assume that all wire and wireless communications, telephone, internet, and otherwise, are monitored. Be aware that every communication made or received in any manner is being overheard. Our government must be assumed to be our collective enemy.

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