Appeals court revives lawsuit against NSA surveillance of Americans

A United States appeals court has revived and reinstated a lawsuit against a government policy that allows for the surveillance of civilians' telephone calls and emails.

The controversial law, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), was put into place in late 2008 when the media grew aware of the extensive surveillance on Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA) — more so when it became known that AT&T was complying with the government's wishes and handing over its customers' data and records. The law allows for the NSA to tap into citizens' communications mediums without a warrant as long as one party resides outside of the US and is suspected of a link to terrorism.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) along with other civil groups filed a lawsuit; however in August 2009 District Court Judge John Koeltl dismissed the case, claiming the plaintiffs could not prove they were subject to the surveillance done by the NSA. The plaintiffs appealed the decision, saying that they often talked to parties outside of the US through electronic mediums but now have to take expensive trips overseas. They also argued that FISA goes against their Fourth Amendment rights.

Today, a federal appeals court agreed with the ACLU and is allowing it to challenge the law. According to PCWorld, the three-judge panel wrote that the law "has put the plaintiffs in a lose-lose situation: either they can continue to communicate sensitive information electronically and bear a substantial risk of being monitored under a statute they allege to be unconstitutional, or they can incur financial and professional costs to avoid being monitored."

The judges believed that the plaintiffs had a "reasonable fear" of being monitored; the case will now return to Judge John Koeltl's New York-based courtroom.

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Very nice spin ALLMac - I agree too.
All politicians in the USA are Corporatists. Corps run this country. Accrodibg to the constitution, it was corps from other countries who wanted to do business in this country that were suppose to pay taxes.

They have the MOSt money, but they pay the least taxes. Republicians were unwilling to add $90B to the defeicit to actually help people who needed help, but instead added $900B for people who don't even need help.

Yet stupid (certain type of people) always vote republican. Many whom which are poor and beleieve that ist the Democrats fault. Amazing. The people in this country who claim they are sooooo smart, are as dumb as a box of dirt.

United States hasn't had a REAL government for 150 years. It's just a big corporation with fairy tales.
The rich want to get richer and this is why the US NEEDS war or else peace would economically destroy them.

Why be upset - it is happening in every dictatorship & so-called democracy on the planet: China, Libya, Australia, Singapore, etc. Often it is done as a war against terrorism, pedophilia, sex-slaves, illegal drugs, communism, anti-Wikileaks, etc.

As a retired Australian Army officer, running the officers Mess in my junior years, we all know the biggest budget of every nation on the planet is military & para-military ("police", spies, counter spies, law, court, prisons, security "measures", etc.). There are many hardcopy & softcopy publications/ periodical that hint the size of this industry.

If you are not with "us" (in the military & para-military), then you are against us. You are the cannon fodder that gives us militaristic people our perks, etc. Im in my dying years now in my nursing home.

BTW: the temporary politicians (elected, usually soft-fingered lawyers, called "politicians) have the illusion that they have "power". As the current leaders of every so-called "democracy", the real power is with the "Yes Minister" (BBC TV series) people, the permanent controllers of EVERY nation.

Greg Zeng, Retired (medical) IT Consultant, Australian Capital Territory

Here's the real issue - oftentimes, a candidate thinks one thing upon running for elected office, then, once he gets there, finds there's more (far more) to the situation than he or she was aware of. Doesn't matter whether you're running for mayor of Peoria or President of the United States - the job is often MUCH larger than it appears.

It's when the pol is running for re-election (if he or she does) that they should be held more accountable toward their promises.

And to the former military person that would advise *fixing* the FBI - exactly how would you do that? The Federal Bureau of Investigation is a law-enforcement agency - while they do engage in counterintelligence/counterterror activities, they are (as an agency) geared toward arrest and conviction. The FBI is worse than the CIA when it comes to special-operations of this sort (so-called *black-bag jobs*) - they have to go to the FISA Court (this court of a specialized branch of the United States District Court system) for approval also. It has, in fact, often been the AG (or even the FBI Director) that has come to the NSA, hat in hand, due to their being ill-equipped (if not just plain non-equipped) to tackle the problem. That leaves two choices - either the NSA continues doing what they are doing (as problematical as it is from a legal and constitutional POV) or we simply allow the bad guys to use a public loophole in our efforts against counterterror.

Is it worth a life? More importantly, is it worth the lives of your family?

That *is* the choice - whether we like it or not.

This is why they use 'fear' to get you to help them justify their actions. On a political note, do you not think that if countries didn't meddle with other countries affairs terrorism would cease to exist? I've always wondered that, and a hunch tells me i'm not far from the truth.

PGHammer said,
Here's the real issue - oftentimes, a candidate thinks one thing upon running for elected office, then, once he gets there, finds there's more (far more) to the situation than he or she was aware of. Doesn't matter whether you're running for mayor of Peoria or President of the United States - the job is often MUCH larger than it appears.

It's when the pol is running for re-election (if he or she does) that they should be held more accountable toward their promises.

And to the former military person that would advise *fixing* the FBI - exactly how would you do that? The Federal Bureau of Investigation is a law-enforcement agency - while they do engage in counterintelligence/counterterror activities, they are (as an agency) geared toward arrest and conviction. The FBI is worse than the CIA when it comes to special-operations of this sort (so-called *black-bag jobs*) - they have to go to the FISA Court (this court of a specialized branch of the United States District Court system) for approval also. It has, in fact, often been the AG (or even the FBI Director) that has come to the NSA, hat in hand, due to their being ill-equipped (if not just plain non-equipped) to tackle the problem. That leaves two choices - either the NSA continues doing what they are doing (as problematical as it is from a legal and constitutional POV) or we simply allow the bad guys to use a public loophole in our efforts against counterterror.

Is it worth a life? More importantly, is it worth the lives of your family?

That *is* the choice - whether we like it or not.

There is a glaring factual error in this article. The FISA laws were enacted in 1978, but were amended in 2008 to allow them to be used for surveillance of U.S. citizens. Neither is this law, in its original enactment, controversial. What IS controversial are the 2008 amendments. Prior to the 2008 amendments it was illegal for the NSA and all military intelligence arms of the US to surveil (operate) on US territory (whether foreign targets, or no) or US citizens abroad. Additionally, installations on allied foreign soil had to extend the same constitutional protection to citizens of the hosting country. If actively surveiling a target results in the electronic surveillance of a protected entity the surveillance was to be immediately terminated. Likewise, if in the course of surveiling enemy targets, recorded intercepts contained communications between the target and US or host-country citizens, the communication by the protected entities had to be redacted from any record.

As a former U.S. military intelligence member who actively participated in the surveillance and analysis of the information acquired, I was required to be intimately familiar with the FISA law. As such, I was extremely angry that the 2008 amendments were enacted. There are NO reasons for the amendments. They break down the barrier between foreign intelligence gathering and the treatment of foreign targets (human), and the surveillance and investigation of US citizens. The two do not mix well at all, which is thereason why the CIA and NSA were prohibited from operating on US territory, and that operations of these types were the jurisdiction of the FBI. If the FBI is incapable of performing these duties, FIX the FBI. Do not have people who are untrained in dealing with U.S. citizens, and who are trained to deal with foreign targets and the much broader spectrum of methods usable on them, be unleashed upon U.S. citizens. It is unfair for both the intelligence professionals, and the citizenry of the United States. Any moron could have extrapolated the amendments resulting in unconstitutional treatment of US citizens. Furthermore, the amendments are antithetical to the original intent of the FISA laws, which in part were to PROTECT US citizens from the exact treatment the amendments have resulted in.

Digressing, while Barack Obama was running for the Democratic nomination, his stated that he would vote AGAINST the bill that would provide immunity against prosecution for the telecoms who were accused of violating the constitution when they worked with the Bush gov't to surveil US citizens without warrants, the so-called 'warrantless wiretaps.' However, when the bill was up for vote, he voted FOR the bill. This is the first time I felt betrayed by him and suspected he was indeed just another run-of-the-mill politician. Add to that the current status of Guantanamo Bay and any move to close it, the less than promised action to support the equal treatment of homosexuals, and the continuation of most of Bush's foreign policies, and I will vote for ANY Democratic candidate for president OTHER than Obama in 2012

Phew, thank you guys, I needed this little bit of blowing off of steam. ;-)

LazLong said,
There is a glaring factual error in this article. The FISA laws were enacted in 1978, but were amended in 2008 to allow them to be used for surveillance of U.S. citizens. Neither is this law, in its original enactment, controversial. What IS controversial are the 2008 amendments. Prior to the 2008 amendments it was illegal for the NSA and all military intelligence arms of the US to surveil (operate) on US territory (whether foreign targets, or no) or US citizens abroad. Additionally, installations on allied foreign soil had to extend the same constitutional protection to citizens of the hosting country. If actively surveiling a target results in the electronic surveillance of a protected entity the surveillance was to be immediately terminated. Likewise, if in the course of surveiling enemy targets, recorded intercepts contained communications between the target and US or host-country citizens, the communication by the protected entities had to be redacted from any record.

As a former U.S. military intelligence member who actively participated in the surveillance and analysis of the information acquired, I was required to be intimately familiar with the FISA law. As such, I was extremely angry that the 2008 amendments were enacted. There are NO reasons for the amendments. They break down the barrier between foreign intelligence gathering and the treatment of foreign targets (human), and the surveillance and investigation of US citizens. The two do not mix well at all, which is thereason why the CIA and NSA were prohibited from operating on US territory, and that operations of these types were the jurisdiction of the FBI. If the FBI is incapable of performing these duties, FIX the FBI. Do not have people who are untrained in dealing with U.S. citizens, and who are trained to deal with foreign targets and the much broader spectrum of methods usable on them, be unleashed upon U.S. citizens. It is unfair for both the intelligence professionals, and the citizenry of the United States. Any moron could have extrapolated the amendments resulting in unconstitutional treatment of US citizens. Furthermore, the amendments are antithetical to the original intent of the FISA laws, which in part were to PROTECT US citizens from the exact treatment the amendments have resulted in.

Digressing, while Barack Obama was running for the Democratic nomination, his stated that he would vote AGAINST the bill that would provide immunity against prosecution for the telecoms who were accused of violating the constitution when they worked with the Bush gov't to surveil US citizens without warrants, the so-called 'warrantless wiretaps.' However, when the bill was up for vote, he voted FOR the bill. This is the first time I felt betrayed by him and suspected he was indeed just another run-of-the-mill politician. Add to that the current status of Guantanamo Bay and any move to close it, the less than promised action to support the equal treatment of homosexuals, and the continuation of most of Bush's foreign policies, and I will vote for ANY Democratic candidate for president OTHER than Obama in 2012

Phew, thank you guys, I needed this little bit of blowing off of steam. ;-)


So, let me get this right, you voted for congressman Obama and not president Obama? Show me a proof of this vote you list, please. If that is correct then this is very very scary and I might consider becoming a citizen of another country.

Damn, no! I had no problem with it. Read it again. Only the Federal Government could do it and only if a party was out side the USA and suspected of terrorism.

I have no problem with that. 1 big catch tough. It would have to be only in Exigent Circumstances (Google It).

Like for example when obtaining a warrant to do the wire tap would take too long because there is probable cause to believe if the Federal Government does not act now the opportunity to cease evidence (this case, being electronic chatter) would be missed. Perhaps the bad guys would destroy the evidence. Or in the case of a phone call, if you missed the opportunity to record it, then you missed it forever.

Notice I said "probable cause" not "reasonable suspicion", huge difference. Again, Google it.

So no, I have no problem with it at all!! I have nothing to hide mind you either!

HQ Mattster said,
After reading this, I'm glad I live in Australia

The situation in australia is actually worse. They even made it illegal to posess photos of women with A-size breasts. Why? "Because they can be confused with children."

RealFduch said,

The situation in australia is actually worse. They even made it illegal to posess photos of women with A-size breasts. Why? "Because they can be confused with children."

And with how some websites take steps to make people look as young as possible I think there's nothing wrong with what you said.

greenwizard88 said,
The government is watching you say this... :shifty eyes:

I am already worried enough, don't freak me out

negroplasty said,
The country is going to ****, and as a citizen it scares the hell out of me.
Are you kidding me? You voted for the governments. You wanted it, you got it. You should really be more scared of the Goldman and the Sachs and the Googles and the Morgans and the Facebooks and rest of the ****ers slowly making your government their slaves. You might think the government does all the bad things, but it's these corporations and their lobbyists that are making the government do the things you are afraid of. There is so much money to be made with people information, especially international information. Why? Well because you Americans have already signed off your personal information to them, so it's all free now.

Have you even tried counting the number of people search companies that have popped up in the last 2 years? It's a completely unregulated area (just like monopolistic mergers, and derivatives trading) because the government can't do anything there because of corporate interests such as Google's.

Edited by Jebadiah, Mar 22 2011, 5:02am :

Jebadiah said,
Are you kidding me? You voted for the governments. You wanted it, you got it. You should really be more scared of the Goldman and the Sachs and the Googles and the Morgans and the Facebooks and rest of the ****ers slowly making your government their slaves. You might think the government does all the bad things, but it's these corporations and their lobbyists that are making the government do the things you are afraid of. There is so much money to be made with people information, especially international information. Why? Well because you Americans have already signed off your personal information to them, so it's all free now.

Have you even tried counting the number of people search companies that have popped up in the last 2 years? It's a completely unregulated area (just like monopolistic mergers, and derivatives trading) because the government can't do anything there because of corporate interests such as Google's.

It's amazing how you read my thoughts; look at what I wrote and look at your response... far too much assumption made on your part. Lobbying in this country is a HUGE problem and I acknowledge that; it's not just the corporations that are to blame, but the policies that allow them to do what they do.

Another thing to note is that the United States is a democratic republic, which means we vote in the turd sandwich/douche and THEY make the decisions for us. For the most part, this country has only two parties, if your interests lie outside of those two parties' opinions you're **** out of luck. So no; I get it, but I didn't necessarily want it.

negroplasty said,

It's amazing how you read my thoughts; look at what I wrote and look at your response... far too much assumption made on your part. Lobbying in this country is a HUGE problem and I acknowledge that; it's not just the corporations that are to blame, but the policies that allow them to do what they do.

Another thing to note is that the United States is a democratic republic, which means we vote in the turd sandwich/douche and THEY make the decisions for us. For the most part, this country has only two parties, if your interests lie outside of those two parties' opinions you're **** out of luck. So no; I get it, but I didn't necessarily want it.


Amen!

GS:ios

Yay! I agree with ACLU here. the govt is growing way to big, and unfortunately both parties have lost touch. the "Republicans" don't believe in efficent small unobtrusive govt like they claim.

"Democrats" are supposed to believe in non-conservative movement such as rights activists but don't. They are supposed to stand up for the rights of it's citizens.. pfft.

DerekMorgan said,
Yay! I agree with ACLU here. the govt is growing way to big, and unfortunately both parties have lost touch. the "Republicans" don't believe in efficent small unobtrusive govt like they claim.

"Democrats" are supposed to believe in non-conservative movement such as rights activists but don't. They are supposed to stand up for the rights of it's citizens.. pfft.

Welcome to the start of communism in America. How long do you think after surveillance when they will decide to just have the right to round up all those criminals in the middle of the night. After this power comes the editing and manufacturing of evidence and soon you know it will have people that they don't like just disappearing left or right. Once the steam roller starts who is going to stop this. This same thing happen in Russia. And that is the lost freedom that is so hard to gain back.

enocheed said,

Welcome to the start of communism in America. How long do you think after surveillance when they will decide to just have the right to round up all those criminals in the middle of the night. After this power comes the editing and manufacturing of evidence and soon you know it will have people that they don't like just disappearing left or right. Once the steam roller starts who is going to stop this. This same thing happen in Russia. And that is the lost freedom that is so hard to gain back.

Either get your vocabulary right or stop being a "communism!!!111!!!one!!" paranoid troll.

Communism is a form of economy, not politics.
The term you could use is: dictatorship.

That is still paranoid, but at least you don't look like a redneck sheep, which I bet you're not

GS:ios

"The judges believed that the plaintiffs had a "reasonable fear" of being monitored"

Most likely they were doing something wrong then

z0phi3l said,
"The judges believed that the plaintiffs had a "reasonable fear" of being monitored"

Most likely they were doing something wrong then


ever hear of the saying "And then they came for the..." blah blah and nobody was left to stand for me?