nsa_surveillance
Source: Occupy Corporatism

In the 2nd Circuit US Court of Appeals in New York, Justices Gerard Lynch, Robert Sack and Vernon Broderick ruled that the National Security Agency (NSA) data collection programs are illegal.

Based on a lawsuit originated by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the appellate court decided that the provision in the Patriot Act, Section 215, was not a contemplation by Congress to collect massive amounts of data and information on Americans; yet it turned out that way.

Lynch wrote: “Such a monumental shift in our approach to combating terrorism requires a clearer signal from Congress than a recycling of oft-used language long held in similar contexts to mean something far narrower.”

Bulk collection of phone records of unsuspecting Americans is a violation of the US Constitution, according to Lynch.

Lynch explained “The interpretation urged by the government would require a drastic expansion of the term ‘relevance,’ not only with respect to § 215, but also as that term is construed for purposes of subpoenas, and of a number of national security-related statutes, to sweep further than those statutes have ever been thought to reach.”

The opinion pointed out: “The interpretation that the government asks us to adopt defies any limiting principle. The same rationale that it proffers for the ‘relevance’ of telephone metadata cannot be cabined to such data, and applies equally well to other sets of records. If the government is correct, it could use § 215 to collect and store in bulk any other existing metadata available anywhere in the private sector, including metadata associated with financial records, medical records, and electronic communications (including email and social media information) relating to all Americans.”

June 1st of 2015 is the day when the Patriot Act as we know it comes to a grinding halt – or is revised to the extent that the government sees fit. This date is looming over the heads of the legislation’s supporters who are now coming out to push forth buffering laws that could keep the NSA spying programs in tact even if the Patriot Act falls to the wayside.

The problem is that the NSA cannot claim that their surveillance programs have stopped terrorism.

The New America Foundation (NAF) released a report stating that the “50 threats that have been averted because of” the efforts of the National Security Agency (NSA) is actually “overblown, and even misleading.”

Clear points made in the report are:

• Metadata rarely proved to be useful in finding terrorists
• Collections of metadata were deemed “not very useful”
• Specifics concerning counterterrorism arrests are sketchy
• US government has lost its credibility
• Reform is necessary

The report entitled , “Do NSA’s Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?” reads: “Surveillance of American phone metadata has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism and only the most marginal of impacts on preventing terrorist-related activity, such as fundraising for a terrorist group.”

Interestingly, 1.8% of investigations used data from NSA mass surveillance programs to thwart terroristic activity.

Not surprising was the determination that 28% of cases reviewed were unclear as to the use of information from metadata as evidence.

According to the report “information played a role in the investigation” where data from the NSA proved to be non-productive.

It goes on to state: “Indeed, the controversial bulk collection of American telephone metadata, which includes the telephone numbers that originate and receive calls, as well as the time and date of those calls but not their content, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, appears to have played an identifiable role in initiating, at most, 1.8 percent of these cases. NSA programs involving the surveillance of non-U.S. persons outside of the United States under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act played a role in 4.4 percent of the terrorism cases we examined, and NSA surveillance under an unidentified authority played a role in 1.3 percent of the cases we examined.”