Custom Search

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Court Agrees To Release 2011 Ruling Calling NSA's Spying Unconstitutional And Illegal, Over DOJ's Objections

By Susan Duclos

The DOJ has been fighting the release, under a Freedom of Information Act (FIA), ruling that came down in 2011,which found that some of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs under the FISA Amendments Act, were unconstitutional.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) has ruled against the Department of Justice and ruled it has no objection to the release of that opinion.

A 2011 FISC court ruling had concluded that some of the NSA’s surveillance programs had violated sections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, a law aimed at protecting American citizens from surveillance programs targeted at foreigners.

The nation’s most secretive court, as it has been called in the media, said that the 86-page classified opinion can be made public if a district court orders it.

On Friday, the Department of Justice, or DoJ, had argued that the court’s opinion must remain secret and its release of the opinion would contradict the FISC's own rules on disclosure of classified documents, according to NBC News.

However, the court’s chief judge, Reggie Walton, rejected the DoJ’s arguments and said that the document, which is in the possession of the department, could be released under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, NBC News reported.

"It is fundamentally the Executive Branch's responsibility to safeguard sensitive national security information," Judge Walton wrote in the order, according to the Huffington Post. "As a general matter, it would be redundant for this Court to impose on the Executive Branch additional restrictions."

The ruling is significant as the NSA’s PRISM program, which has sparked public outrage over Internet users’ privacy rights, is based on the same sections that the FISC found was circumvented by the security agency.

San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, had filed a lawsuit last year seeking a release of the FISC court's 2011 opinion.

This will fuel critics of the expansion of foreign surveillance to include domestic spying under the Obama administration, specifically the recently revealed Prism program, where the NSA gathers massive amounts of meta-data from some of the largest tech companies such as  Yahoo, Google, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook

The release of this ruling could also offer those which have filed a class action lawsuit against Obama, Verizon, NSA  and the DOJ, more evidence of their claims that their constitutional rights have been violated.

The ruling will not be released yet, the FISC ruling simply rejected the DOJ's claim that they should disallow a lower court to release the documents demanded in the FOIA request.

Full Wake up America NSA scandal coverage found here.