Thursday, July 9, 2015

The NSA Gets Taken to the Woodshed

A federal appeals court recently ruled that a
National Security Agency (NSA) program that
collects telephone records on millions of Americans
is illegal. The Second U.S. Court of Appeals issued
a 97-page ruling to this effect, and rightfully so.

Although the judges on the appellate court didn't
address the constitutional ramifications of the NSA
program re: privacy rights, they did find the PATRIOT
act language used to justify such mass data collecting
was not meant for doing that.

"The statutes to which the government points have never
been interpreted to authorize anything approaching the
breadth of the sweeping surveillance at issue here ...
The sheer volume of information sought is staggering."
opined the judges. And they are spot on! The controversial
program gathers metadata; the number called, the time and
duration of the call, but not the content of the conversation
(your skeptical Peasant is not at all sure of the veracity of
this last point!) --- the idea being to look for possible
contacts among terror suspects. But with the millions of
calls so monitored, the NSA has been getting information
on many calls not made nor received by such suspects,
nor having anything remotely to do with terrorism.
And with the harassment of Tea Party groups and other
conservative organizations by the IRS, who's to say that
other governmental agencies have not joined in the
unconstitutional persecution of political activists,
individuals or groups, who dare to exercise their
First Amendment rights to speak out in dissent of the
current administration and/or any other part of the
country's government? Or that of Christians and their
churches who disagree with Obama over gay marriage
or abortion? Or any other citizens, individually or in
groups who have views which the Obama regime does
not approve of?

The judges undercut the main legal basis the government
has long cited for its records collection en masse. Lawyers
for the government have claimed that they are allowed to
collect extensive records because --- while such data aren't
necessarily connected to any terror suspects --- they all are
"inherently relevant to terrorism probes" and that "law
enforcement may need to search said records to find
connections between suspects". This, my grand readers, is
how totalitarianism takes root. Fabricate a reason to spy on
the citizenry in order to get "evidence" of treasonous or
seditious activity, then persecute, prosecute, and punish
the so-called offenders. It seems to your curious Peasant
that the Obamunists in government are more than a little

The court's ruling was in response to an American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit, in which it agreed that the
data collection should be ended because it violates privacy
rights. A lower court judge ruled in favor of the NSA and
its program, stating that it is in fact constitutional, and the
ACLU promptly appealed, leading to the May 7 decision.
This is one of the very few times that your faithful Peasant
is in agreement with the ACLU, and I want to commend them
for the actions that they have taken in opposing the NSA's
broad-scoped snooping activities. They can do something
good and helpful on occasion after all.

The phone data roundup program began in 2001, at the start of
the George W. Bush administration. Five years later Bush
placed it under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court, which approved and re-approved it in
secret meetings. That figures! And the saddest thing of it is that
this began under a Republican president. All the more reason
to end this terrible assault on out privacy, and to hold both
parties' feet to the fire to make them never to do this to us

This episode illustrates the disrespect, the disdain, and the contempt
that both the Democrats and the Republicans have for we, the
citizens of our country. Also, the PATRIOT act should be scrapped,
and new national security legislation should be created that would
preserve our protections under the Fourth Amendment while
providing steps for the protection of our country.


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