The most fundamental violation of the covenant between a free people and its government…must be stopped.
Yay. Hallelujah. A small step, a first step, in the right direction. Finally:
Key quotes from the ruling: “NSA phone surveillance is ‘likely unconstitutional,’ judge rules.”
[T]he question that I will ultimately have to answer when I reach the merits of this case someday is whether people have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is violated when the Government, without any basis whatsoever to suspect them of any wrongdoing, collects and stores for five years their telephony metadata for purposes of subjecting it to high-tech querying and analysis without any case-by-case judicial approval. For the many reasons set forth above, it is significantly likely that on that day, I will answer that question in plaintiffs’ favor.
Yet, turning to the efficacy prong, the Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time sensitive in nature. In fact, none of the three “recent episodes” cited by the Government that supposedly “illustrate the role that telephony metadata analysis can play in preventing and protecting against terrorist attack” involved any apparent urgency. . . . Given the limited record before me at this point in the litigation-most notably, the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative tactics-! have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism.
However, in light of the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues, I will stay my order pending appeal.
From the cover of the NY Times, today:
The report was praised by privacy advocates in Congress and civil-liberties groups as a surprisingly aggressive call for reform.
Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has been an outspoken critic of N.S.A. surveillance, said it echoed the arguments of the N.S.A.’s skeptics in significant ways, noting that it flatly declared that the phone-logging program had not been necessary in stopping terrorist attacks.
“This has been a big week for the cause of intelligence reform,” he said….
Mr. Obama is expected to take the report to Hawaii on his vacation that starts this week and announce decisions when he returns in early January. Some of the report’s proposals could be ordered by Mr. Obama alone, while others would require legislation from Congress, including changes to how judges are appointed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court…
For much, much, much more, here.