In the wake of two court decisions holding that the program is illegal and unconstitutional, it is time for Congress to act.
President Obama’s program to spy on all Americans has been declared illegal by a federal court of appeals. This is a very interesting development considering that Congress is weeks away from having to deal with expiring provisions of the so-called “PATRIOT Act.”
The Hill reports, “the decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday represents the second major court victory for opponents of the NSA, after a lower court decision called the program nearly unconstitutional six months ago.” The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals declared that the National Security Agency spying program “exceeds the scope” of the law.
In a unanimous decision, Judge Gerard Lynch wrote that an interpretation of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act gives the government the same tools to “fight terrorists” as they have to fight “money laundering and drug dealing.”
The court held that “the techniques traditionally used to combat such ordinary crimes have not included the collection, via grand jury subpoena, of a vast trove of records of metadata concerning the financial transactions or telephone calls of ordinary Americans to be held in reserve in a data bank, to be searched if and when at some hypothetical future time the records might become relevant to a criminal investigation.” Basically, the Court held that Section 215 should be read like any other statute. There is no implicit legal authorization for the collection of all American’s phone records.