DoJ Lawyers: Americans Have No Right to Challenge NSA Spy Programs

Freedom Outpost

US District Court Judge William H. Pauley is at the center of the debate over  whether or not Americans can request that the National Security Agency (NSA)  halt their surveillance programs.

Lawyers for the government stated to Pauley that “ordinary Americans cannot  legally challenge it.”

Stuart Delery, attorney for the Department of Justice (DoJ) explained that  based on Smith v. Maryland (SvM), “ordinary Americans have no standing to challenge  the collection of their call records. Americans have no reasonable expectation  of privacy for those records, and that only phone companies can challenge their  collection.”

DoJ Lawyers Americans Have No Right to Challenge NSA Spy Programs


Because  of this legal standing, government attorneys are moving for a dismissal of the  case.

Delery told the court that the NSA surveillance program was “carefully  calibrated to the purpose for which it is being used.”

House Representative James Sensenbrenner, author of the Patriot Act of 2001,  wrote an amicus curiae brief to the court.

Sensenbrenner said that he never expected for the federal government to use  his legislation for such over-reaching Big Brother surveillance state  activities.

Delery suggested that Pauley consult “national security experts” and step  down from deciding on whether or not the NSA should continue their spying  operations.

The DoJ argued that phone metadata is covered as searchable as stated in the  Patriot Act and asserted that access to phone records of customers and  siphoning  the information “is not a search” and therefore not a violation of  the 4th  Amendment.


Jameel Jaffer, deputy director and lawyer for the American Civil Liberties  Union (ACLU) who initiated the legal battle, commented : “If Pauley were to let the policy — revealed earlier this year  by leaker extraordinaire Edward Snowden — remain in place, it could open the  door for more intrusive actions by the government. If you accept the  government’s theory here, you are creating a dramatic expansion of the  government’s investigative power.”

In 2007, the ACLU filed a suit against the NSA that resulted in the decision that the ACLU  did not have standing to bring the suit against the NSA, because they could not  present evidence that they were the targets of the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP).

The DoJ argued that the suit be dismissed due to state secrets privilege (SSP) compounded with the plaintiff’s lack of legal  standing.

The TSP collected information from intercepted international phone  conversations and internet communications without warrants. Targets were  considered suspected terrorists and therefore outside of the jurisdiction of  the  Foreign Intelligence  Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA).

Whistleblower Russell Tice has warned about the NSA and their surveillance programs.

Tice said: “If you picked the word ‘jihad’ out of a conversation, the  technology exists that you focus in on that conversation, and you pull it out  of  the system for processing. That would mean for most Americans that if they  conducted, or you know, placed an overseas communication, more than likely they  were sucked into that vacuum.”

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