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US Federal Judge Rules NSA Data Collection Legal

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the time-to-escalate dept.

The Courts 511

New submitter CheezburgerBrown . tips this AP report: "A federal judge on Friday found that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records is legal and a valuable part of the nation's arsenal to counter the threat of terrorism. U.S. District Judge William Pauley said in a written opinion (PDF) that the program 'represents the government's counter-punch' to eliminate al-Qaeda's terror network by connecting fragmented and fleeting communications. In ruling, the judge noted the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and how the phone data-collection system could have helped investigators connect the dots before the attacks occurred. 'The government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world. It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program — a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data,' he said."

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511 comments

And now where does this go? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798059)

So, if this does go to the Supreme Court, it will be interesting to see what if anything shakes out of it.

Re:And now where does this go? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798087)

You heard it here first: Fourth Amendment defeated 5-4.

Re:And now where does this go? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798241)

Terrorism is irrelevant. Whether the programs work or not is irrelevant. All that matters is whether or not it's constitutional, and it's not.

But even if this nonsense does eventually get shut down, there's clearly a problem with our system if it takes decades to get rid of unconstitutional garbage.

Re:And now where does this go? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798519)

From the article: "Every day, people voluntarily surrender personal and seemingly-private information to transnational corporations, which exploit that data for profit," Pauley wrote in . Few think twice about it, even though it is far more intrusive than bulk telephony metadata collection.

So, you know, some people tell everything to Facebook and Google. It's totally cool if just spy on everyone now, right? Because terrorism and stuff. We are just going to keep feeding off of something that happened over a decade ago.

Re:And now where does this go? (4, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 4 months ago | (#45798589)

The implication of that quote is that such information is given out so freely that it's not a Fourth-Amendment-covered "search" to gather it, because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. Note the paragraph directly above:

He also found that the right to be free from search and seizures "is fundamental, but not absolute."

That part has been upheld by the SCOTUS repeatedly.

You have no standing because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798065)

you can't prove how our secret program violates you, or the Constitution.

So unless you work for us and steal documents and leak them, there IS no legal way to challenge this.

Hw much did he get paid to say that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798081)

...or was it in the form of Lifetime Membership With Privileges at Hooters?

Re:Hw much did he get paid to say that? (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 4 months ago | (#45798147)

More likely just plain judge selection. Common enough technique, though usually used by prosecutors. For someone well-connected into the legal system - someone who knows schedules, who will be busy and when - it isn't hard to have some influence over which judge a case will come before. Just got to bias events towards one sympathetic to the government position.

Time to appeal (4, Interesting)

s.petry (762400) | about 4 months ago | (#45798089)

I don't have much confidence that the Supreme Court would rule any differently, especially considering other rulings this supreme court has made. Have to try though, and if not time to start throwing people out of office.

Re:Time to appeal (4, Insightful)

DesertJazz (656328) | about 4 months ago | (#45798115)

If nothing else I would think this would expedite this to the Supreme Court since there are two conflicting district decisions.

Re:Time to appeal (5, Funny)

lgw (121541) | about 4 months ago | (#45798321)

I'm guessing the NSA had some juicy details about this judges private life. Guess we'll find out how many of the SCOTUS Justices have secrets they'd sell their souls to keep private.

It's sad that the people who should most value privacy will rule against it, but that's why pervasive spying is so corrosive - the power just builds and builds.

Re: Time to appeal (1, Funny)

Great Big Bird (1751616) | about 4 months ago | (#45798381)

What a nice conspiracy theory you have there.

Re: Time to appeal (4, Interesting)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 4 months ago | (#45798653)

What a nice conspiracy theory you have there.

Unless you live in a monastary or a convent all your life, you have something to hide, whether it was cheating on a question on an exam, your neighbor hitting on you while your wife was passed out, something. Just read the FBI files on Martin Luther King Jr. And you think there isn't a damned thick dossier on all the Supremes? Hell, *I* have an FBI file simply because I was in the military and they investigated me for security clearance. I'm not rich, famous, or particularly influential, but that 40 year old file is still in the stacks.

Re:Time to appeal (4, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about 4 months ago | (#45798423)

Well, SCOTUS is already rigged. No need to have conspiracy theories here. There are lists of their horrible rulings so I'm not going to rehash them here.

New York, New York (3, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#45798609)

I'm guessing the NSA had some juicy details about this judges private life.

I doubt it's that complex - just look at which circuit this guy is in charge of: New York, New York.

You know, that police city-state on the East Coast, the one where people are regularly shot by cops just for standing in the wrong place, assaulted with chemical weapons for speaking out against the corrupt government, stopped and searched without any regard to the 4th Amendment, arrested for expressing their 2nd Amendment right, and oh yea, tried to ban big fucking sodas.

Taking all that into account, I'd be surprised if the judge didn't decide in favor of the elite ruling class.

Re:Time to appeal (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 4 months ago | (#45798621)

I'm guessing the NSA had some juicy details about this judges private life. ...which is exactly what Snowden warned us about.

The NSA will not be stopped by the courts. They routinely violate the constitution, they obey no legal limits to their activities. The only thing that will stop them is pulling the plug altogether. Contact your congressmen and senators, and tell them to abolish this criminal organization.

-jcr

Re:Time to appeal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798537)

... time to start throwing people out of office.

Or throwing things at people in office. Heavy things, preferably.

Re:Time to appeal (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 4 months ago | (#45798675)

Depends, often times it is more effective to throw very small light things....very quickly.

Afterall E = 1/2 mv^2 - better to double the velocity than the mass :)

Dear NSA, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798113)

The cat is out of the bag. Everyone knows what you do and what you're capable of. Do you REALLY think that terrorists are going to use technology at all??? Fools, all of you.

Re:Dear NSA, (4, Insightful)

some old guy (674482) | about 4 months ago | (#45798141)

What makes you think the real mission of the NSA is to track terrorists?

Re:Dear NSA, (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#45798419)

What makes you think the real mission of the NSA is to track terrorists?

Was that aimed at the GP, the NSA, or the judge that said the data collection was legal because it helped track terrorists?

Expected (5, Interesting)

nehumanuscrede (624750) | about 4 months ago | (#45798125)

This will bounce back and forth until it reaches the Supreme Court. I'm sure they are already dreading it.

Were I in possession of the Snowden documents, I would simply wait and see how this plays out. If it simply goes back to "business as usual" for the NSA by being declared completely legal by our bought-and-paid-for judicial system, I would simply pull another juicy document or two out of the pile and add it to the growing pool of public knowledge. Wash, rinse and repeat until the government finally does the right thing ( or you run out of documents I suppose )

Either way, it's a win for privacy. ( We get a little bit of it back, or learn how much of it we've lost )

Shushotora (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798299)

Define 'The Right Thing' this is a lose-lose case for all involved.

Re:Expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798305)

If it simply goes back to "business as usual" for the NSA by being declared completely legal by our bought-and-paid-for judicial system

This is a difficult question. Two District Judges have issued essentially conflicting opinions, and nobody knows how the Supreme Court will rule..

Can we dispense with the usual childish Slashdot argument by sarcastic insinuations of sweeping corruption not backed by any evidence?

Re:Expected (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798415)

Can we dispense with the usual childish Slashdot argument by sarcastic insinuations of sweeping corruption not backed by any evidence?

The fact that this program ever existed proves that there is sweeping corruption in our government. The fact that this judge ruled in this way proves that at least some judges are corrupt, which is just foul icing on this disgusting cake.

Re: Expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798507)

How does it prove anything. You can only interpret the data. Unfortunately the data is inconclusive on whether there is or is not corruption. Also lets separate legal and ethical. And what is Private. The Constitution has not been expanded to define private in sense of the Telephone and the internet. They didnt exist 200+ years ago and not even a pipe dream.

Re:Expected (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 4 months ago | (#45798637)

sarcastic insinuations of sweeping corruption not backed by any evidence?

Are you serious? How much evidence are you prepared to ignore?

-jcr

Re:Expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798491)

im pretty sure that this is the tactic the reporters are going with, i doubt the reporters are done with his files and im sure there is plenty more information that they have to sort through and organize for mass consumption..

meanwhile three letter government agencies will not be able to get ahead of all of the reporting until they learn to tell the truth.. so keep spreading falsehoods, because it just gives more for the reporters to bite into.

as someone who has grown up with the internet (i got on during the bbs days when i was a preteen) i would like to share some advice with the three letter government agencies. give it up. this is the internet age, and while you may be able to read everything we type and see everything we do, you of all groups of people should know that nothing gets truly erased from the internet (or your own servers apparently) and that the truth always bubbles to the surface.

the only way to hide what your doing is to not document any of it.. so take a choice, full truth, or stop documenting.. either way we win. we will either see what they have been up to or their organization will spiral so far out of control that the bureaucrats will have to deal with it (that is once the budget starts hampering the goals of the economic 1%)

so in summary, for the TLDR peeps. i envision the future war we will see will be between the intelligence 1% and the economic 1% the rest of us will be stuck in the middle dodging bullets.

Re:Expected (0)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 4 months ago | (#45798647)

by being declared completely legal by our bought-and-paid-for judicial system

Please provide evidence that any federal judge has received payment or favors in exchange for desired rulings. Thanks.

True Terrorism (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798139)

It's sad to see that theses acts of terrorism have succeeded and freedom as it was once known is being slowly dismantled.

If I lived in the USA I would be outraged.

Re:True Terrorism (4, Informative)

gmuslera (3436) | about 4 months ago | (#45798611)

You should be even more outraged if you live outside USA. This is about if US citizens have any kind of right, but what is not even considered is that foreigners have human rights at all for them, outside borders is free hunting area.

Re:True Terrorism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798625)

A lot of people in the USA are outraged. Still not a lot we can do about it. There are a lot of people I run in to that don't really know what's going on.

"Snowden? Yeah, I think I know that name. Wasn't he a spy or something?"

  Or even even better, sometimes I just get a blank look.

Valuable how? (4, Insightful)

Chalnoth (1334923) | about 4 months ago | (#45798143)

Even if we disregard the obviously nasty privacy implications, in what way is a completely and utterly ineffective program "valuable"? I mean, come on. This extremely expensive program has stopped precisely zero attacks (source [nbcnews.com]). I seriously hope the ACLU's lawyers are up to the task of arguing the idiocy of this program.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798325)

The thing is because nothing happened, we can never tell if it worked and stopped a terrorist attack or didn't. We can only say nothing happened on X day.

Re: (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#45798569)

The thing is because nothing happened, we can never tell if it worked and stopped a terrorist attack or didn't. We can only say nothing happened on X day.

In general this is true -- but in this case, it shouldn't be. This is a passive system that "works" when it connects dots and flags suspects. The fact that it has not done so for any potential or real terrorist threat shows that we can tell it didn't work -- considering there WERE plenty of potential and real terrorist threats that it DIDN'T flag up.

Of course, the system isn't designed to flag threats in the first place -- it's designed as a forensics tool, to clean up after a threat has been realized. Anything else it does is just a "bonus". Thus, if 9/11 happened again, it wouldn't prevent it -- it would just be a very quick method of rounding up many of the (still alive) people who were involved and getting insight into how big the thing was in the first place.

Re: (5, Interesting)

Chalnoth (1334923) | about 4 months ago | (#45798573)

Take a look at the article. It isn't just that nothing happened, but they didn't even have any positive detections. And it only takes a little bit of knowledge of neural networks and statistics to understand that this kind of program is doomed from the very start: the signal these data collection systems are looking for is exceedingly tiny. There are at most dozens of actual terrorists seriously working on plans to attack somewhere in the US at any given moment, compared to a population of over 300 million. In order for the system to actually detect those terrorists, then, it needs to have a detection accuracy that is better than the ratio of the non-terrorists to the total population. Otherwise, most of the "detections" will actually be false detections that do nothing but mislead law enforcement and infringe on the rights of innocent citizens. If we assume 50 terrorists, that means the system would need a precision better than 99.99998%.

It's almost impossible for any learning model to have a precision that high. Learning models in general have this problem with what are called long-tail errors. If you want to know what these errors are, check out Google's or Apple's speech recognition software on a smartphone (you can also access Google's speech recognition on the web on any PC with a microphone). Most of the time, it's pretty good. But sometimes the mis-detections are so far off it's ludicrous. Why in the world would you ever trust a system that needs obscenely high precision to an algorithm that has such nasty errors?

To be fair, it is possible to reduce the needed precision by filtering out people in the population who are unlikely to be terrorists (e.g. children, the elderly, women), but it's just not possible to reduce it enough to make sifting through large pools of information worthwhile.

Re:Valuable how? (5, Insightful)

Puls4r (724907) | about 4 months ago | (#45798671)

You're falling into the chasm of rational arguments they are trying to shepard you into. Keep in mind the initial argument. We are protected from having them collect this data. You have already started arguing how the data is valuable. That's exactly what they want you to do, because now if they can prove it's valuable (even in some false manner), they've 'won' that portion of the argument. Always return to the initial argument. You CAN NOT SPY ON AMERICAN CITIZENS LIKE THIS. Regardless of how 'valuable' it might be. It'd be even more valuable to put a chip in each and every one of us to monitor every last thing we do. Then there would never be crime that goes unsolved. Force all foreigners coming in to get the same chip. After all, wouldn't stopping all crime be extremely valuable? This judge was gotten to in some way. Because he ignored the laws and simply started justifying the actions. Don't fall into the trap of changing the basis of the argument. It's illegal. Leave my information alone unless I give it to you.

Useful vs Legal? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798149)

How does if something is useful or not have any bearing on if it's legal or not?

Re: Useful vs Legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798453)

It sure would be useful for my state of intoxication this weekend if I were to knock off that liquor store around the corner.

Exactly how is this scenario any different?

Re:Useful vs Legal? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798591)

The constitution says no un-reasonable searches.
    An argument for reasonableness is that usefulness outweighs intrusiveness.

The thing is that now that this program is widely known, the bad guys will just adjust their tactics.
    The guys who did 9/11 could likely have avoided being caught by this system.
      The recent judge's ruling seems to ignore adjustments to tactics.

Another reasonableness question is does this system cause an unhealthy imbalance of power between the govt and the people.
  Especially considering that the main safeguard is our trust that the NSA will always only do good things.
    These are good folks, but that sure is a lot of tempting, concentrated power.

The pen-register decision had safeguards built in due to the effort required to gather the data.
    This made the search a reasonable trade between usefullness and intrusion.
      Advances in technology have removed these safeguards in the current program.

The founding fathers understood human nature and concentrated power and wrote checks and balances into the Constitution to address this.
Seems like a reasonable reading of the constitution should dictate either less power and/or more safeguards in this situation.

Re:Useful vs Legal? (2)

RelaxedTension (914174) | about 4 months ago | (#45798619)

Agreed, the usefulness should not have any bearing on it's legality. Cameras in every home would be useful in stopping domestic violence, arguably more effective than the current NSA collection is for it's stated purpose, but it is still not only illegal but completely undesirable.

No Surprise Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798151)

Well, I am not shocked. The whole gov is a boys-club and they all pretty much do what they want. The only real debate is over who's palm gets greased and by how much. Ug. Total shame.

Never expect players on the same team... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798153)

If anyone ever expects players on the same team to rule against each other, they're either very naive or very stupid. One does not bite the hand that either feeds them or that can blackmail them.

expediency (1)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about 4 months ago | (#45798159)

Another judge drops their britches to expediency over the Constitution and the Founders. In a continuing assault on rights, one wonders how long before Americans start appeals to the ultimate Appeals Court of Messrs Colt, Smith and Wesson. Living in a big brother dictatorship is not going to be fun.

Re: expediency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798253)

"The Founders" passed and signed the Alien and Sedition Acts. And that only took until the second presidency.

Re: expediency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798349)

most of the founders thought it was OK to buy and sell human beings like farm animals
most of the founders thought it was OK that only property owners should vote in a time when most people didn't own any property

Re: expediency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798567)

Exactly. Many of them had interesting socio-political ideas but they do not deserve the deification as is done by many right-wingers.

Translation: (5, Funny)

snarfies (115214) | about 4 months ago | (#45798165)

NSA has dirt on Judge William Pauley.

Re:Translation: (1)

danlip (737336) | about 4 months ago | (#45798215)

NSA has dirt on all judges, unless there is one that is so clean that no dirt exists. Why do you think they do what they do?

Re:Translation: (4, Insightful)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 4 months ago | (#45798219)

Was my first thought as well. When there's /this/ much data collected, surely they've dug up something juicy on just enough judges/politicians to let them continue to do what they want to do.

Re:Translation: (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 4 months ago | (#45798655)

They probably do, but it's also just as likely that Pauley is a willing participant in the dismantling of our civil liberties.

-jcr

Re:Translation: (0)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 4 months ago | (#45798665)

Or maybe he just has different idea about privacy than you and I do. Not everything involves a shadowy conspiracy.

Can't vote a supreme court judge out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798195)

so why is anyone surprised by this verdict? I personally will be voting out as many as I can who support this.

Sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798199)

Pure speculations used to establish justice. The ends justify the means. Violating the human rights of billions. Nice morals. Rotten from the inside.

And what's the relation of that with Petrobras? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798213)

What bothers me the most is that people seem to care only about American civil rights. What about the rights of the human beings in the rest of the world?
And what about the legality of having the NSA being used to spy on companies from Brazil? I mean, the Germans did WWII, so that's why you spy on them (sarcasm), but the Brazilians???

The American people have to stop the NSA not just for themselves, disrespecting everybody else's laws and freedom is not the way to go.

Seems to be going on about ends justifying means. (5, Interesting)

rbrander (73222) | about 4 months ago | (#45798251)

TFA didn't appear to go into the matter of law - does the program violate the 4th or not, and why. The decision must have done so. It's little short of bizarre that a judge went on about matters not of law - how the program is valuable or a "counter punch" for 9/11 or whatever. Surely such talk is all about an end justifying a means. I'm not allowed to break the law just because I've got a valuable end in mind; the government, the same, one would think. If the end justified the means, then, heck , allow cops to search every house at will for evidence of child-molestation.

The NYT article [nytimes.com] says specifically that he ruled that the 4th does not apply to information given to 3rd parties. TFA notes that he went on about how we give info to 3rd parties all the time so that they can profit from them. What the heck voluntarily and openly giving over information to vendors in return for free services or whatever has to do with the government taking information non-voluntarily and without notification, he doesn't seem to have explained.

So one comes back to the "end justifies the means" parts of his comments. There seems to be capture of the 3rd-branch "regulator" here: he believes the program is saving lives, or something, whereas the judge two weeks ago noted that he was cleared for all possible secrets, yet was shown no cases where they'd averted a crime that would otherwise have occurred. So much for the "54" terrorist plots averted.

Re:Seems to be going on about ends justifying mean (5, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 4 months ago | (#45798451)

The problem is the third party doctrine which holds that voluntary disclosing information to 3rd parties removes any expectation of privacy.

That works more or less pre-digital age. However the idea that disclosing all of this information now is voluntary is ridiculous. You would have to live like Thoreau did in his shack on Walden Pond to avoid this.

There needs to be legislation or even better an amendment to fix this.

bit3h (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798265)

Move forward, If You answered FreeBSD at about 80 7his mistake or

What a Stream of Horseshit (3)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 4 months ago | (#45798285)

[assuming the summary is accurate] each of the main points can be easily shown to be factually incorrect and logically incoherent. We've done this a thousand times here, so it's not useful to do it again.

What people should realize here is that the "Justice" system is in place to, primarily, protect the power structure. If you're still accepting that "justice is blind" and "rule of Law" fairy tale they taught in government schools, it's time to wake up and smell the tyranny.

Just watch - when it gets there SCOTUS will put a very mild restraint on the NSA to placate the masses and give cover to the politicos and leave the majority of the programs in place. Note that making such a prediction does not depend on interpretation of The Law - The Law will be be bent to achieve the per-ordained outcome.

When that happens, you'll have to decide if you're going to do anything substantive about it. Now's the time to think about what that might (or might not) be.

Re:What a Stream of Horseshit (1)

pablo_max (626328) | about 4 months ago | (#45798549)

Hey, justice is blind!

Why do think they have a scale? The side who puts the most money on the scale wins! The judge could not care less what the person looks like, or even it is "person".

Re:What a Stream of Horseshit (1)

stoploss (2842505) | about 4 months ago | (#45798661)

Hey, justice is blind!

Why do think they have a scale? The side who puts the most money on the scale wins! The judge could not care less what the person looks like, or even it is "person".

FYI: contrary to popular belief, rants tacitly alluding to the Citizens United ruling are *not* relevant when discussing all possible judicial decisions.

This particular case is a perfect example of a scenario where it is irrelevant.

Breaking News! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798293)

Government finds government innocent. Film at eleven.

So by his ruling... (4, Insightful)

labiator (193328) | about 4 months ago | (#45798297)

Authorities should just send speeding tickets to all drivers, since we all do it?

Re:So by his ruling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798597)

Maryland already does that.

In Maryland, you are presumed to be speeding if you are not in the right lane, and being in a lane other than the right lane means they can send you an "administrative violation" with a fine that you must pay. An "administrative violation" doesn't give you any points and doesn't go on your record, and doesn't make your insurance go up, but it still costs you $150 if their camera traps happen to catch you out of the right lane.

Re:So by his ruling... (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 4 months ago | (#45798679)

No. His ruling says that everyone can be subject to radar speed detection, because everyone is a potential speeder. So exactly how the police handle speeding now.

The good old... (4, Interesting)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 4 months ago | (#45798323)

The good old ends justify the means justification for violating the 4th amendment.

Re:The good old... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798649)

Final proof that your stupid constitution doesn't mean shit.

Judge rules against the Constitution, film at 11 (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 months ago | (#45798341)

Do you know how many times USA judges passed anti-Constitutional rulings? It's impossible to count, it's overwhelming. The system is completely corrupt, judges are not representing the Republic, they are not protecting the Constitution, which is their job. They are representing and protecting the power that is in place, that's all it is and it is part of the real problem - destruction of good self governance, destruction of the rule of law, installation of the rule of men.

Rule of law is not just a phrase, it has a meaning, it's supposed to provide an expected set out outcomes to the questions regardless of who poses the questions, regardless of who stands to benefit, regardless of who is in power. Rule of law is what makes a growing economy possible by providing a framework that is understood and hopefully is very stable and it is supposed to prevent any group of people to get control over any other group of people. It's supposed to protect the individual from the collective, from the mob, from the government. Instead what passes for the rule of law today is whatever is politically expedient and convenient for the establishment and those in power.

Anyone all that surprised? (1)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 4 months ago | (#45798351)

After the previous "Likely unconstitutional" ruling, it was only a matter of time before any momentum counter to the "everybody's a terrorist and that gives us an excuse to do whatever we want" point of view was stopped in its tracks. I'm not surprised this happened and I am even less surprised that his NSA-fellating ruling sounds like it was written for him.

unavailable information (0)

globaljustin (574257) | about 4 months ago | (#45798359)

This ruling was exactly what we all should have expected and it is obviously what *had* to happen...

Why?

Answer this question: Is there any data that you want to be **completely unavailable** to law enforcement with **proper warrant**?

Our military and law enforcement absolutely must be able to use all means to catch the bad guys.

The problem is *how* the data is collected and used....which is controlled by regulations.

The answer is **transparency** of the process, not allowing criminals a walled garden that law enforcement cannot have access to.

Re:unavailable information (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 4 months ago | (#45798553)

Excuse me, but FUCK YOU.

The ends do not always justify the means. If something is illegal for government to do, it is illegal for government to do, even if they really really pretty please with a cherry on top want to, and even if the outcome might be positive sometimes. It's still illegal.

Re:unavailable information (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798571)

Our military and law enforcement absolutely must be able to use all means to catch the bad guys.

No. Freedom is more important. People who use these means are the bad guys.

Re:unavailable information (5, Insightful)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 4 months ago | (#45798615)

Answer this question: Is there any data that you want to be **completely unavailable** to law enforcement with **proper warrant**?

There will be a lot more of it now. This is not a zero sum game. If people know their shit is being abused they will not use it or develop alternate solutions which can only be cracked with a $5 wrench. By overstepping you actually create a feedback loop whereby your capability is eroded. Warrants are useless if the capability to execute does not exist.

Our military and law enforcement absolutely must be able to use all means to catch the bad guys.

Just a second there you can't just lump Military and Civilian systems together. NSA is supposed to be military. They are not supposed to be in the LEA business.

Remember who is actually being killed by whom in this country. I'll give you a hint >12k are not being killed by terrorists in the US every year.

The problem is *how* the data is collected and used....which is controlled by regulations.

The problem is the NSA has warrantless access to all of it. How they get it is irrelevant the fact they have it is what matters.

The answer is **transparency** of the process, not allowing criminals a walled garden that law enforcement cannot have access to.

The government has already lost its legitimacy in this regard. I hope it tries to recover some of it..that would mean at minimum stopping secret (interpretation of) law, secret courts and secretly collecting data on everyone without cause.

Re:unavailable information (3, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | about 4 months ago | (#45798659)

I agree we should have expected it, not because it *had* to happen, but because US judges are just as corrupt and self-interested as US politicians. They won't ever do anything to rule against the system, no matter how screwed up the system's behaviour has become, because its the same system thats giving them their power, status and wealth.

>> Our military and law enforcement absolutely must be able to use all means to catch the bad guys.

Sorry but thats crazy talk. You've totally bought into the brainwashing. Yours is exactly the same excuse all dictatorships, terrorists and psychopaths use. Once we start acting like them, even just in order to beat them, we have already lost because we have become no different from them.

Those pesky dots (4, Insightful)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 4 months ago | (#45798367)

"In ruling, the judge noted the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and how the phone data-collection system could have helped investigators connect the dots before the attacks occurred."

Oh please. It has been said time and time again that the dots were in front of their faces but they didn't take notice. Same with the Boston marathon bombings. More tugging at the heart strings of America.

" 'represents the government's counter-punch' to eliminate al-Qaeda's terror network by connecting fragmented and fleeting communications." ....Said the CIA man in the judges chamber during judge Pauley's coaching before returning to the bench to read his ruling. It couldn't sound any more insincere and staged. Now I sound like a conspiracy theorist.

Seriously. After all of these shenanigans have been exposed, who can trust anything the government says? They will keep on happily pissing on our rights while the courts fall in line with them telling the people "look how good this is for you! You should be happy and embrace it!" Fuck you William Pauley for selling us up the river you sackless pussy. (had to rant for a sec.)

Re:Those pesky dots (1)

danlip (737336) | about 4 months ago | (#45798447)

The expression is "sold down the river". "Sold up the river" would be relatively good (given that you are a slave anyway). Conditions further south were worse for slaves.

Wow! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798371)

The United States doesn't even pretend to be a democracy anymore. So very sad, I was once proud to be an American.

Useful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798375)

Just kill every human on the entire planet. It might be unconstitutional but it sure is useful at stopping terrorism

Wave the Flag... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798377)

This shouldn't be a surprise. Look up polls and see how many people approve of the TSA. Sure, there are plenty of loud complainers online, but the overwhelmingly percentage of the population accept the TSA as necessary or actually doing something to prevent terror attacks. When programs like this come under scrutiny, all the backers have to do is wave the "Preventing Terrorism" flag and everyone clams up. It's the same way politicians and crime people wave the "You're allowing child pornography!" flag every time they want to impose a restriction. It works wonders. Play into people's fears and they'll accept almost anything.

No comparison, idiot judge trying to justify (4, Insightful)

Quila (201335) | about 4 months ago | (#45798389)

"Every day, people voluntarily surrender personal and seemingly-private information to transnational corporations, which exploit that data for profit,"

That data is given voluntarily. People may be pretty glib in giving the information, but it is still their choice. Maybe I do want Facebook knowing everything, but don't want my government to. Still, my choice. I never opted-in at the NSA web site.

Judge William Pauley (3)

PortHaven (242123) | about 4 months ago | (#45798391)

Is a threat to the Constitution. And should be removed from his post.

Re:Judge William Pauley (2)

pablo_max (626328) | about 4 months ago | (#45798501)

No, he is a threat to our very way of life and our prosperity. He should be executed for high treason.

Re:Judge William Pauley (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798601)

No, he is a threat to our very way of life and our prosperity. He should be executed for high treason.

"High treason" is overkill. In this country, we have a firm definition of that term. Go look it up.

In unrelated news (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 4 months ago | (#45798395)

Judge William Pauley is nominated to the Federal Appeals bench, while Judge Richard Leon is passed over once again.

Re:In unrelated news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798493)

And a GOP filibuster for it is no longer a possibility to prevent it.
Thanks Harry Reid.

Wikipedia page for William Pauley modified... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798433)

I just noticed that the wikipedia page for William H. Pauley was modified today:

The phrase that struck me was:
"William H. Pauley III (born 1952) is a United States federal judge and an un-American scumbag who allowed the NSA to continue it unconstitutional practices."

Discuss...

Magic rocks (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 4 months ago | (#45798443)

Are you scared of tigers?

Take your pants down while a cast a spell to protect you from tigers.

Next time, take off your underwear also, this way the spell can effect you better.

This time, for the spell to work, I have to touch you down there.

...

Pretty soon, your fucked either way, but at least it's not ERMAGHERD TIGERS.

Do they have a choice? (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | about 4 months ago | (#45798465)

Given how deep they're in it, do they have any other viable option? As I understand it, any ruling that would acknowledge that sweeping bugging is wrong would legitimise (pun intended) popular rebellion against the NSA. But by legitimising bugging and with so many people who have been made to believe "what is legal is acceptable" then the govenment is off the hook.

How bizarre (2)

pablo_max (626328) | about 4 months ago | (#45798483)

Are you telling me that the US government has decided that that US government is indeed allowed to do anything it wants with regards to total surveillance on every living person in the world without any actual cause? I didn't see that one coming at all.
Seriously, if anyone, even for one second thought that checks and balances existed with it comes to the government grabbing power for it self, you are out of your F'ing mind.
Historically, there is only one way to curb the power of an out of control ruling class. That, however, is something most people won't have the stomach for until things get far worse.

And in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798487)

Judge William Pauley has been considered for nomination to the Supreme Court.

Fucking Activist Judges (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45798521)

This judge's opinion reeks of corruption of personal feelings. Judge's are supposed to interpret what the law says to determine if a particular activity or Law fits within the narrow confines of constitutional authority.

This judge is a proponent of "anything is okay as long as it's for the War on Terror(TM)" and didn't seem to read one word of existing case law and simply ruled from the perspective of their personal agenda.

I can stop terrorism right now... (2)

tekrat (242117) | about 4 months ago | (#45798681)

Nuke the crap out of the middle east.

I mean, hey, the end justifies the means, right? And it would be cheaper and more expedient than spying on the whole world waiting for a bit of data to connect to another bit of data that proves (and stops) nothing.

And really, we wouldn't be violating the rights of anyone any more than we are now. Right now we selectively target people we 'think' are terrorists and drone strike them. Whether they are or not is irrelevant and they can't have their day in court because we blew them up (and anyone else around them). So, what's the difference between that and just simply killing every muslim?

And hey, let's start with Saudi Arabia if you're going to quote 9/11. Plus we get free oil if you don't mind it slightly radioactive.

So how is my idea any different? In fact, my idea is better because you aren't affecting Americans, right? And only Americans "count" in this world.

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