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article imageUS lawyers claim Americans cannot challenge NSA spying legality

By Ken Hanly     Nov 23, 2013 in Politics
Washington - The American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) brought a lawsuit against the National Security Agency's (NSA) program of phone records surveillance last June shortly after Edward Snowden the NSA whistle blower revealed its existence.
The ACLU suit asks for an injunction against the program to shut it down. Alexander Abdo an ACLU attorney said: "Never before has the government attempted a program of dragnet surveillance on this scale,"The ACLU claims that the surveillance exceeds the powers granted it both under the Patriot Act and under the First and Fourth amendments of the US constitution. The government lawyers claimed that the program cannot be challenged by ordinary US citizens.
Stuart Delery cited a 1979 Supreme Court ruling he claimed shows that Americans do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy for the records collected. Only phone companies have the power to challenge their being collected. No firm has ever fought an order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court which oversees the spy program. The court deliberates in secret: " During the 25 years from 1979 to 2004, 18,742 warrants were granted, while just four were rejected. Fewer than 200 requests had to be modified before being accepted, almost all of them in 2003 and 2004. The four rejected requests were all from 2003, and all four were partially granted after being submitted for reconsideration by the government. Of the requests that had to be modified, few if any were before the year 2000. During the next eight years, from 2004 to 2012, there were over 15,100 additional warrants granted, with an additional seven being rejected. In all, over the entire 33-year period, the FISA court has granted 33,942 warrants, with only 11 denials – a rejection rate of 0.03 percent of the total requests.[5] This does not include the number of warrants that were modified by the FISA court." Since the FISA Amendments Act in 2008 the court can no longer reject an application because the applications fail to show probable cause. Delery also claimed that the spying program is "carefully calibrated to the purpose for which it is being used" to discover and map the networks the government suspects are related to terror groups.
Judge Pauley asked Delery if members of Congress were aware that the Patriot Act was used in such a far-reaching way. Rep. James Sensenbrenner who authored the Patriot Act claimed that he never realized that the law would be used to gather every phone record. Many members of the House also apparently had no idea the law was being interpreted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts so broadly when they reauthorized the bill back in 2011. Delery said that the House and Senate intelligence committees who had been briefed about the program "stand in the shoes" of Congress.
Another suit against NSA was filed by conservative lawyer Larry Klayman. The Electronic Privacy Information Center also requested that the Supreme Court consider the NSA spying program on an emergency basis, a request that was turned down as noted on the appended video. The government insists that the legality of the spying can be considered only by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
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