I can think of very little good news that has come out since a certain political party moved into the White House in January 2009, but something positive might actually be brewing right now.
CNN recently reported that a federal judge in Washington, D.C., declared that the U.S. government’s collection of domestic phone records is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon says that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of metadata, which includes the phone records of Americans that were recorded without any suspicion of wrongdoing, violates privacy rights.
Every ounce of me wants to scream out, “Duh!” but I’ll refrain.
I loved this judge’s statement, which hits the nail on the head. “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”
Not surprisingly, Judge Leon was appointed by former President George W. Bush, not by current President Barack Obama.
Leon added that 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.”
Of course, the government will appeal the ruling, so it will probably be up to Congress to pass legislation that will force the NSA to focus on terrorists and spies, not innocent Americans. But will the support be there for Congress to accomplish this?
Most Americans – and an increasing number of their politicians – are opposed to the indiscriminate recording of phone calls and emails, but the president is all for it. Who do you think will win this legal battle?