Supreme Court Standoff Next? ACLU Sues Obama Over Constitutionality Of NSA Surveillance

Tyler Durden's picture

If the constitutional scholar was hoping he would quietly avoid a major showdown over the constitutionality of the biggest spying scandal since Nixon (whether legal or not remains to be determined) and which would likely have led to an early POTUS retirement if current president was republican, the ACLU just slammed the door shut on the possibility. Moments ago, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its "dragnet" collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program is illegal and asking a judge to both stop it and order the records purged. And, as the NYT reports, "the lawsuit, filed in New York, could set up an eventual Supreme Court test." Only once that happens it will be too bad that InTrade is no longer available, to take the other side of a trade that believes the SCOTUS will for once do the right thing and preserve the constitution when everyone knows the decision to formally enact a Big Brother state will pass along political party lines and America will officially become the country that for 5 decades, at least superficially, it was waging "cold war" against.

From NYT: 

The program began as part of the Bush administration’s post-9/11 programs of surveillance without warrants, and, it is now known, it has continued since 2006 with the blessing of a national security court, which has ruled in still-secret legal opinions that such bulk surveillance was authorized by a section of the Patriot Act that allows the F.B.I. to obtain “business records” if they are relevant to a counterterrorism investigation.


Congress never openly voted to authorize the N.S.A. to collect logs of hundreds of millions of domestic phone calls, but the administration notes that some lawmakers were briefed on the program. Some members of Congress have backed it as a useful counterterrorism tool, while others have denounced it.


“The administration claims authority to sift through details of our private lives because the Patriot Act says that it can,” Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Sunday. “I disagree. I authored the Patriot Act, and this is an abuse of that law.”


Over the weekend, in hope of preventing a backlash, James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, also disclosed details about privacy protections built into the program. Among them, officials may access the database only if they can meet a legal justification — “reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organization.” To deter abuse, queries are audited under the oversight of judges on a national security court.


Timothy Edgar, who recently left the government after serving as a privacy and civil liberties official on intelligence matters in both the Bush and Obama administrations and who worked on building safeguards into the phone log program, said the notion underlying the limits was that people’s privacy is not invaded by having their records collected and stored in government computers, but only when a human extracts and examines them.


“When you have important reasons why that collection needs to take place on a scale that is much larger than case-by-case or individual obtaining of records, then one of the ways you try to deal with the privacy issue is you think carefully about having a set of safeguards that basically say ‘O.K., yes, this has major privacy implications, but what can we do on the back end to address those?'” he said.


Still, even with such restrictions, privacy advocates say the mere existence of the database will inevitably erode the sense of living in a free society: from now on, whenever Americans pick up a phone, before dialing they now face the consideration of whether they want the record of that call to go into the government’s permanent files.

Living in a what society?

Supporters of the program privately say the database’s existence is about more than convenience and speed. They say it can also help in searching for networks of terrorists who may be taking steps to shield their communications with one another, for instance by using different phone lines; if calls are going to and from a different number at the same address or cellphone towers as the number that is known to be suspicious, for example, having the comprehensive database may be helpful in a way that subpoenas for specific numbers cannot match.


It remains unclear, however, whether there have been any real-world instances in which a terrorist network that tried to evade detection was identified in that way, and so the existence of the database prevented an attack that otherwise would have occurred, or whether that advantage is to date only theoretical. A 1979 ruling over a small-scale collection of calling “metadata,” Smith v. Maryland, held that such records were not protected by the Fourth Amendment since people have revealed such information to phone companies and so have no reasonable expectation of privacy. However, in a 2012 case involving GPS trackers placed by the police on cars, the Supreme Court suggested that the automated collection of people’s public movements may raise Fourth Amendment privacy issues in a way that nonbulk surveillance does not.


A 1979 ruling over a small-scale collection of calling “metadata,” Smith v. Maryland, held that such records were not protected by the Fourth Amendment since people have revealed such information to phone companies and so have no reasonable expectation of privacy. However, in a 2012 case involving GPS trackers placed by the police on cars, the Supreme Court suggested that the automated collection of people’s public movements may raise Fourth Amendment privacy issues in a way that nonbulk surveillance does not.

Can we just cut to the chase and take this straight to a Supreme Court showdown so that just like in the case of Obamacare, it can be voted through along political party lines, and the final schism of an already broken society, where one half no longer demands any right can be put in the books.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Zer0head's picture

Meet Tracy, Warren Buffett's 28 year old "financial assistant" and since starting with Warren some four years ago she now is Chair of a number of Berkshire companies


Ms. Britt helps with financial research, accompanies Mr. Buffett to meetings and occasionally drives him around town. The billionaire gradually tacked on additional responsibilities. Ms. Britt is one of the executives the 82-year-old Mr. Buffett is grooming...

true brain's picture

I have a sickening feeling that the supreme court will back Obummer.

It's over America

Ignatius's picture

"Over? Was it over when the Germans attacked Pearl Harbor?"

MagicHandPuppet's picture

They should definitely impeach this traitor.

I wonder if the "people" will learn how long this has actually been put in place.  After all, we know that it's been going on long before the (above ground) revealing of the new data center in Utah... A decade at least! Maybe two!

Ahmeexnal's picture

Most likely scenario, a major nuclear false flag operation will be launched in order to galvanize the sheeple's support for their "fearless leader" in yet another war.
This whole thing will be buried and anyone who dares to bring the subject up again will be sent to a human-incinerator equiped FEMA camp.

jbvtme's picture

comes down to an expectation of privacy.  house? yes. trunk of car?  yes.  unattached storage shed? no.  back yard? no  front seat of car?  no.  land line?  yes. us mail?  yes.     facebook? cellphones?  i'm guessing no.  especially with this group of black robed sociopaths

Chupacabra-322's picture

Sociopaths?  That's putting it mildly.  Meglomanics is more like it.  See below:


The source of the problem is the commonwealth (London Crown/Interbanking System).

The commonwealth, including Cypress, controls every offshore banking country.

All money and property is being funneled to the Isle of Mann, in a giant computer called the CUBE (Think Saturn (Satan)), and the Queen of England is called the Lord Of Man for a reason.


 She is the head freemason, or ‘the see’ which is what the Eye represents. England has been meddling with America’s finances since the revolution since they couldn’t beat us with weapons.

The Crown (the Queen now, but soon to be Prince William) is the top of the pyramid, and the Queen heads the committee of 300, who controls the CFR, who implements the Basel system.

Let’s not forget we have fought two wars with England. Not the people of England, but against the Crown. With the aid of the banks who operated under maritime law, which the Queen controls, have sucked up deed, resources, and financial control the the manipulated LIBOR (London Interbank System), which controls the $800 trillion derivatives market.

It’s in essence, a corporate takeover, to bring the US into the commonwealth, and shred the constitution. The commonwealth already has 1/3 of earth population under, and is the new British Empire (NWO). Masons all pledge allegiance to the Crown, which is why George Washington was considered the worst military commander in history, because he secretly worked for the Crown through the House of Burgesses.



SafelyGraze's picture

art III section 3

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

doesn't define "war", although the war declared on enemy combatants who are citizens of the us maybe is sort of declaring war on the states themselves

if both congress and the executive have, via ndaa, declared war on the united states, who will prosecute them?

macholatte's picture




.... no reasonable expectation of privacy.


and there you have it

espirit's picture

Stepping back from the recent spate of misconduct by numerous branches of .Gov and taking a hard look at the macro picture, the takedown of prominent (and endorsed) leading figures appears to have really pissed someone (or many) off.

I think if we go back to persons of interest that were removed from positions due to improprieties or imprudence, thus actions resulting from intercepts of their public or private communications, a pattern may emerge that suggests there is indeed a power struggle at the highest levels, which puts the N.S.A. in the middle of the debacle.

The real question then becomes "who's protected", thus having their personal dirt redacted, or whether this information still exists on the servers at an enhanced security level.  Who then may ultimately access this info at a later date and use it to politicize decision making processes, or incriminate those that may sway popular opinion?

This rabbit hole goes deep. 

FL_Conservative's picture

It's a strange feeling to be on the same side of an issue as the ACLU.  Most certainly an apocolypse is coming.

Real Estate Geek's picture

Does anyone else see an unfinished pyramid in the Prism logo, or is it just me?

Real Estate Geek's picture

Well I definitely see it there!  But I was referring to what's in the refractions in the Prism logo's prism.


Doubleguns's picture

If Occupy, Tea party, ACLU and the rest of the patriot groups can agree on this....... think of the possiblities. Could we not end the dominaiton by the republicrats, demicians and those who have bought them. Ron Paul would be proud especially since his son called for the lawsuit 2 days ago. ACLU is a bit late but much welcomed. 

James_Cole's picture

ACLU a bit late? They've been on this since the patriot act inception.


The government has just officially confirmed what we've long suspected: there are secret Justice Department opinions about the Patriot Act's Section 215, which allows the government to get secret orders from a special surveillance court (the FISA Court) requiring Internet service providers and other companies to turn over "any tangible things." Just exactly what the government thinks that phrase means remains to be seen, but there are indications that their take on it is very broad.


de3de8's picture

FL_C : my thoughts exactly!

FlyingPurpleSheepleEater's picture

False flag lawsuit?  If they do it just right, they can get a judgement against them that will doom any future suits by any real plaintiffs with legitimate concerns about the 4th amendment trampling by this administration.  But what do I know?  I can't even work the phone on my desk.

DeadFred's picture

NSA spies on Americans to dig up dirt on them and they forget to dig up dirt on the congress critters and SCOTUS? Not very likely don't you think? If they are up to no good rest assured they own enough justices to get a favorable ruling.

James_Cole's picture

and which would likely have led to an early POTUS retirement if current president was republican

FFS why does this need to be made into a partisan issue, not enough clicks these days Tyler?

If there was ever an issue with real bipartisan support in Washington it's totalitarianism. 

cougar_w's picture

There are many Tylers. Apparently they can each say whatever they want.

One of these days only one will be left, and we'll see then what that means.

James_Cole's picture

Yeah, it just pisses me off when legitimate issues are so easily spun off into partisan nonsense - a win-win for media companies and politicians though. 

kaiserhoff's picture

Just so, Cougar,

and as the comedian Red Green so wonderfully put it,

you get what you pay for.

MarsInScorpio's picture



How about because it's the truth, and it shows that the corruption is endemic?


Reality check for you: If this were a GOP president, the Democrat Senate would be hanging him or her out to dry by now. The vote for conviction would be a foregone conclusion.


And with people like the Democrat mole Boehner in the House, they’d get their articles passed to indict.


But instead it is a Black Democrat president.


That means the first thing we will hear if they try to impeach him is that it's racist. Every Black Racist in America, starting with Holder, Jackson, Wright, Farrakhan, and the Rev. Al will be cranking up the money machine that they've used for decades to accuse everyone - Black or White - who supports putting Obama in prison, is only doing it for racist motivations.


It really is a sick irony that the Black Racists are allowed to get away with calling others racist . . .


And in case you've missed the quotes in the story, there are plenty of supporters for what is happening. The most sickening is Boehner, who is now officially an Obama apologist on this issue. What in the Hell is he doing in the GOP leadership - or even the party for that matter?


I'd love to know what the fascist pigs have on him anyway. Gay? Drugs? Cheating on his wife? Porn? Taxes? Payoffs? A 16-year old intern that he cuddles with?


(The age of consent is 16 in DC; gee, what a coincidence - Congress made the Age of Consent exactly the same as the age which you must be to be page in the House or Senate. That's how Barney Frank stayed out of jail when he took his page lover to bed . . . and to Germany where the page professed his love for Barney. If that had been a GOP congress member, all Hell would have broken loose. But it wasn't so the gay lobby applauded Barney and the page for being "out of the closet." In forty three other states, he would have been in prison for 20 years, and a registered sex offender for life.)


So no, there is not a bi-partisan consensus against this.


Never forget that Germans died for Hitler all the way until the Russians took Berlin, house by house.


I have no trouble seeing the Obamabots and his corporatist supporters holding out until their blood runs without mercy in the streets.


James_Cole's picture

Right Mars, I totally forgot how effectively the Dems impeached Bush when he first passed the "patriot" act and then even more effectively impeached him the second time (reauthorization) during which he declared himself above congressional oversight (a move a dictator in a third world country would've been mocked mercilously for by freedom lovin' Americans):

"The executive branch shall construe the provisions of H.R. 3199 that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch, such as sections 106A and 119, in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties"

IdiocracyIsAlreadyHere's picture

Yeah it is amazing that those on the "Red Team" forget how much the whole "you either for us or against us" for the entire reign of Shrub & Co.  and accused anyone on the perceived "left" and libertarians of treason for not cheering for the war du jour loudly enough.  This should convince anyone with a functioning brain of the absudity of the current partisan divide - opposition only when "our guys" are not in charge.  

And the Sensenbrenner quote brings the absurdity to a whole new level.  Right, asshole, you were one of the authors of this hideous piece of shit called the Patriot Act and "it was not what we intended".  Read:  it was only intended to be used by people like him.  Wow.  Just Wow.

francis_sawyer's picture

"The billionaire gradually tacked on additional responsibilities..."


Well ~ The Quickster isn't really all that hot... But I'd take the Quickster over this one...

ShrNfr's picture

I have not bothered to watch CNBC in a long time. Did she get her teeth fixed?

francis_sawyer's picture

I haven't watched in so long that I don't even know if she's still on the show or not... Last time I watched, Erin Burnett was still there...

angel_of_joy's picture

Yeah, but I bet she has some hidden skills that only Warren knows about...

B2u's picture

Germans?  I thougt it was the Russians.

SunRise's picture

Russians?  I thought it was the Indians!

Citxmech's picture

At that point, it will just have begun.

tip e. canoe's picture

I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President..." - snowden

better start drinking the Pepto Bismol

Doubleguns's picture

Yep, what are the future releases going to cover. The Presidents very own emails talking about the IRS scandel, bengazi etc..... one can only imagine what snowden has compiled.  I am sure there is much to have an upset stomach over. 

piceridu's picture

I'm afraid that putrid taste in the back of your throat is the lunch special: Captured Supreme Shilled Sausage

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

@true brain: "I have a sickening feeling that..."

... history may repeat itself or rhyme.  Given all the noise & churn going on.  Isn't O a huge fan of Lincoln?

Of course, if you're a believer in Revelation... the Beast will be wounded but will survive with a mark on his head so that all marvel, and take on amazing power.  Inasmuch as some (Rahm Emmanuel) say "Never let a crisis go to waste", I say unto thee:

"For ruthless rulers, there are few things more useful than (a) Organized Religion and (b) Self-Fulling 'Prophecies' (forecasts)".

MarsInScorpio's picture



Actually, Obama was quoted as saying that he will be remembered in history as more important than Lincoln.


Milestones's picture

Well of course. All things being equal I will be the end of history; thats where it ends.        Milestones

booboo's picture

I would say the libtards at the ACLU are going to throw up a case full of holes on purpose. Now its decided and the law of the land. See how easy that was?

Widowmaker's picture

Vomit United etched that play in stone.

You should be asking why have courts at all when the rule of law is a secret or dead (the other secret).

icanhasbailout's picture

Of course the Supreme Court will back the regime. I'm pretty sure they weren't immune from having all their communications intercepted and logged, and I'd wager those communications are of particular interest to one party in this case.


Didn't Snowden say that he could spy on federal judges at will?

kralizec's picture

#7 "Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere... I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President..."

TheReplacement's picture

I have a sickening feeling the ACLU (long known as a communist front organ used to break down America's moral code) will lawyer this up to the Supremes and then basically throw the game so the Supremes must find for the Government thereby justifying the whole thing.

The other thing that stands out to me is that it is actually possibly that this sort of data trapping may really be necessary.  Why?  Is it so hard to believe that our telcom and internet data systems have been so comprimised by the Chinese (and whoever else) that we can no longer rely on their archived data/logs to be accurate?

What I mean is:  Suppose a Chinese spy at Los Alamos downloads top secret nuke data from the lab, emails it to his handler back in China, and calls to confirm it was recieved.  On the backend Chinese hackers delete the email transaction from the email servers and then also from the telecom's phone records.  Later when the NSA goes to request those records there is nothing to see.  By capturing data before investigative requests, almost live data captures, they are preventing external influences from corrupting the data.

Either way, it is sad commentary on the state of our security affairs.