An Orwellian Nightmare

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In Tuesday’s WaPo:

‘A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency’s daily collection of virtually all Americans’ phone records is almost certainly unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon found that a lawsuit by Larry Klayman, a conservative legal activist, has“demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success” on the basis of Fourth Amendment privacy protections against unreasonable searches.

Leon granted the request for an injunction that blocks the collection of phone data for Klayman and a co-plaintiff and orders the government to destroy any of their records that have been gathered. But the judge stayed action on his ruling pending a government appeal, recognizing in his 68-page opinion the “significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues.”

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” said Leon, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”’

For those of us who supported the efforts, while not necessarily the means, of Edward Snowden for revealing the unconstitutional activities of our government through the NSA, there is a sense of vindication for our support of his whistleblowing. This doesn’t mean that we agreed that he did that whistleblowing in the People’s Republic and then, ran off to Russia for asylum. He should have done it, instead, in the United States to a Congressional committee.

“I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts,” said Snowden, who has received that temporary asylum in Russia, where he is seeking to avoid U.S. prosecution under the Espionage Act for leaking NSA documents. “Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”

I have a problem with the judge’s stay of his own ruling, to allow the government to mount an appeal. Instead, the ruling should be in force until the appeal is brought, otherwise the government will drag its keister to bring its claims of necessity to the Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, the NSA can continue to carry on with its wonton metadata mining. And the Obama administration is using the argument that it is doing its job by keeping us safe from terrorism.

Actually, it isn’t doing its job, because this action isn’t keeping us free. That is the government’s job. By violating the Fourth Amendment the way it has, it is slowly stripping us of our freedoms, which is as important as our security.

And to me, the FISA court must be closed down, because all it does is rubber stamp the administration’s requests and evidence, without listening to opposing views. Kinda like the Nazi courts under the Nuremberg laws of the 1930′s.

Some may think that last sentence is extreme, but remember that courts are charged with the balancing act of keeping us free and protecting our rights, while enforcing the laws the government makes. A tip in either direction would result in anarchy.

Finally, remember this: the government exists with the consent of the governed, not that the governed exists with the consent of the government.

George Orwell wrote a novel. We are living the reality.

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