Federal Court Gives Go-Ahead to NSA Illegal Surveillance Case

Monday, January 02, 2012
The civil case against the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program by the National Security Agency (NSA) has been resurrected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle because the federal government may have conducted a “communications dragnet of ordinary American citizens.”
Three years ago, federal judge Vaughn Walker threw out a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which claimed the NSA illegally intercepted the communications of Americans with the help of major telecom companies.
Although the appellate court revived the case, the three-judge panel unanimously refused to rule on the merits of the case. The judges also gave no opinion on whether the government violated the Constitution by obtaining the phone records of Americans without court approval. The case will now go back to lower courts to decide if the case should be dismissed because it would expose state secrets.
In a separate ruling, the court threw out 33 lawsuits against the telecoms that cooperated with the government’s warrantless wiretapping program because in 2008 Congress passed an amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that gave the telecoms retroactive immunity.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Court Slams 'Dragnet of Ordinary Citizens' (by Tim Hull, Courthouse News Service)
Caroly Jewel et al. v. National Security Agency et al. (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) (pdf)

First Court Ruling that Bush Administration Wiretapping was Illegal (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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