While an appeals court found Thursday that the NSA’s data collection on law abiding Americans over-reaches and raises grave privacy concerns, it remains to be seen if the ruling will put any type of halt on the agency’s programs.
The bulk collection of Americans’ phone records by the government exceeds what Congress has allowed, a federal appeals court said Thursday as it asked Congress to step in and decide how best to protect the population from the invasive spying.
Trouble is, time and again, politicians have voted in favor of the NSA programs. Scaremongering wins votes and combined with powerful military industrial complex lobbying its hard for elected officials to say no.
There’s also the fact that the NSA has a dossier on all our elected officials, as well as their family, friends and business associates.
In short, the agency has plenty of leverage over lawmakers to ensure its wings aren’t clipped.
The three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan permitted the National Security Agency program to continue temporarily as it exists, and all but pleaded for Congress to better define where the boundaries exist.
“In light of the asserted national security interests at stake, we deem it prudent to pause to allow an opportunity for debate in Congress that may (or may not) profoundly alter the legal landscape,” the opinion written by Circuit Judge Gerald Lynch said.
“If Congress decides to authorize the collection of the data desired by the government under conditions identical to those now in place, the program will continue in the future under that authorization,” the ruling said. “If Congress decides to institute a substantially modified program, the constitutional issues will certainly differ considerably from those currently raised.”
The appeals judges said the issues raised in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union illustrated the complexity of balancing privacy interests with the nation’s security.
During arguments heard in December, the judges said the case would likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2013, secret NSA documents were leaked to journalists by contractor Edward Snowden, revealing that the agency was collecting phone records and digital communications of every American even though the vast majority were not suspected of crimes.