Judge Rules NSA's "Indiscriminate & Arbitrary" Invasion Of Privacy Likely Unconstitutional

Tyler Durden's picture

A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency program which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States is likely to be unconstitutional. As Politico reports, Judge Richard Leon blasted, "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 it and analyzing it without judicial approval." This is the first significant legal setback for the NSA’s surveillance program since Edward Snowden exposed it.

Via Politico,

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the program appears to run afoul of the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. He also said the Justice Department had failed to demonstrate that collecting the so-called metadata had helped to head off terrorist attacks.




Plaintiffs have a very significant expectation of privacy in an aggregated collection of their telephone metadata covering the last five years, and the NSA’s Bulk Telephony Metadata Program significantly intrudes on that expectation,” wrote Leon, an appointee of President George W. Bush. “I have significant doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism.”




Leon’s ruling is the first significant legal setback for the NSA’s surveillance program since it was disclosed in June in news stories based on leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The metadata program has been approved repeatedly by numerous judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and at least one judge sitting in a criminal case.

The Blog of Legal Times adds:

A federal magistrate judge in Washington today released a 157-page report detailing evidence and testimony in a dispute over the handling of evidence from mass arrests of protesters in downtown Washington in 2002.


U.S. District Magistrate Judge John Facciola did not, however, offer his conclusions on the central issue of whether city or police officials mishandled, concealed or destroyed evidence.


Facciola, who was appointed by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to probe the evidence-related allegations as a special master, wrote that he wasn't clear on the scope of his authority at this point.


"As I am reluctant to speculate as to Judge Sullivan’s intentions, particularly when the sanctions sought are so severe," Facciola wrote.


The underlying litigation involves mass arrests by the Metropolitan Police Department during protests around Pershing Park in 2002. In recent years, the arrest litigation has been put on hold as lawyers for the plaintiffs and the city fought over allegations that officials mishandled evidence and withheld information from the court.


Facciola's report didn't include a time frame for when Sullivan might decide how the case should proceed. "I will instead issue the following findings of fact but defer issuing conclusions of law until Judge Sullivan indicates the nature of the authority he wishes me to exercise," Facciola wrote, "assuming he intends me to have additional responsibilities once he reviews my findings."

Full judge's report:


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hedgeless_horseman's picture



A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency program
which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from
or within the United States is likely to be unconstitutional.

No fucking shit.

Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

TeamDepends's picture

Judge Leon, my advice to you is to avoid Cessnas.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Yup, the same advice that Jack-Jack got from Jackie. But it was a promise/oath he did not keep. RIP.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



The bigger concern is that people are not more pissed.

icanhasbailout's picture

It's OK because they got a waiver for that section of the law.

john39's picture

this is only a ruling on a preliminary injunction, not yet a final judgment. that said, a preliminary injunct is essentially a ruling that the claimant will win a judgment when the case is fully heard.

Ying-Yang's picture

"The court concludes that plaintiffs have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the government's bulk collection and querying of phone record metadata, that they have demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their Fourth Amendment claim and that they will suffer irreparable harm absent…relief,'' Leon wrote.

This is good news until they find kiddie porn on Judge Leon's home PC. (NSA would not do that) /s

Gen. Keith Alexander's picture

I will be happy to retire next year.

When good, hardworking Americans can't do their jobs to protect the people they serve due to mutual mistrust then it is best to hang up the (white) hat.

50 years ago we would have been heroes.

Ying-Yang's picture

Why retire General when you could take a dirt nap.

akak's picture

And I'll even donate the dirt!


("Dirt" here meaning physical soil, of course, not the illegally and unconstitutionally obtained, blackmail-useful personal secrets of individual Americans.)

outamyeffinway's picture

The only problem is that no matter what happens now, trust is destroyed. If the courts order the NSA to quit spying, who will believe that they actually will? They were doing it without approval and will just continue to do so. Even if they quit.

SWRichmond's picture

who will believe that they actually will?

The secret court will tell us they have.

The Juggernaut's picture

@Gen. Keith Alexander:  Your job is to keep Americans Free not safe, you asshole.  The People are safe ONLY in their Freedom/Independence  You mean 50 years ago fooling the People would have been easier and successful.

markmotive's picture

60 Minutes revealed that NSA prevented a plot to destroy US economy.

Is this propaganda? Or journalism?


The Juggernaut's picture

@markmotivePropaganda.  The Federal Reserve destroys the roots of the US economy.

SamAdams's picture

Not to disrespect anyones race/religion/cult, but I'm guessing Richard Leon is not a Jew.  At least not the kind that create our money out of thin-air and then charge us for it.  The kind that practice rascism and genocide, while screaming they are the victims.  The kind that lie to you on a daily basis by controlling and spinning your daily news.  The kind that oversee the most damaging corruption on the planet.  Right, I'm not supposed to believe my lying eyes.  2+2=5.  Got it....

i-dog's picture

Give it a rest ... Snowden is a psyop.

i-dog's picture

The judge is a Jesuit (ie. a crypto-Khazar). This is therefore a setup for something else far worse ... more than likely to privatise the data collection into the hands of an "independent" third party or the telecoms providers themselves - away from the prying eyes of constitutions, congressional committees and FOIA requests.

This is not good news, folks!

Indeed, it reinforces what I've said all along: That Snowden was/is a psyop to achieve a specific objective.

Problem ... Reaction ... Solution.


Free Francis Sawyer!

SamAdams's picture

MoveOn is full of liberal dimwits, but occasionally they get one right....

TheKinski's picture

"The bigger concern is that people are not more pissed."

My wife is not pissed.

My father is not pissed.

My sister is not pissed.

My mother is not pissed.

My mother in law is not pissed.

My father in law is not pissed.

My best friends are not pissed.

I am an island onto myself.

And although I am an introvert by nature, it is one lonely fucking island.

HardAssets's picture

Kinski - there are a Lot of islands out there with you. People who aren't only pissed that this violation of the US Constitution goes on . . . . but that those we know personally, don't know about it or don't seem to care.

Youre not alone brother.

(My own brothers don't want to hear about it. Theyre not only willfully ignorant - theyre aggressively ignorant.)

Trampy's picture

And although I am an introvert by nature, it is one lonely fucking island.


If you or any other intelligent life here get tired of that loneliness, shoot me an email using the PGP key in my Bio.

twh99's picture

That is what bothers me most about this whole situation.  The minute their practices are exposed to the light, after years of doing it, it is found to be unconstituional.


The judges on the FISA court who approved this should be brought to the public square and exposed.

WhiteNight123129's picture

BITCHEZ BUY SILVER MINES! 1. Check the price of Tobacco and M1 since 1950

http://grabilla.com/03c10-3bf071b9-37a6-40c8-afb6-13a131b9aa78.png 2.

Processed Tobacco has the most stable demand no substitution, no cycle. It is clockwork to measure other commodities. Right now Silver is affordable in Tobacco Terms, actually it is cheaper than in 1950.


In tobacco terms, Silver is neither in a bubble neither expensive. Granted it is not as cheap than in beginning of 1999-2003, but it quite cheaper than between 1950-1965 pre-bretton Woods trouble. BUY SILVER MINERS!!!!

giggler321's picture

So what was when it was 8$/oz just before you lot shouted about how good a deal it was and now is?

WhiteNight123129's picture

Back in 2005, Silver was priced at 8 in USD, but at 2.50 in tobacco or 2.5 tonnes of tobacco for 100 ounces of Silver.

Today you need 3 tonnes of Tobacco for 100 ounces of Silver, so Silver is slightly more expensive but nothing dramatic. Of course in dollar it doubled, but it is silly to measure commodities in dollars to figure if they are cheap or expensive. Measuring it in dollars says nothing.


Well it is cheaper today at 19 USD than at 8 USD back in 1988. If you measure in processed tobacco, Silver does not move much except during the 1970s inflation panic.

In five years, if Tobacco triples and Silver only doubles, silver will be cheaper than today.

In other words measuring Silver in Dollars in pointless to know if it is cheap or not on a fundamental basis. Of course the volatility is a distraction.

The true metric of prices is Tobacco. I tracks M1 like a clock, it is not speculated with on futures market just an unbiased reliable measure of price inflation.





El Vaquero's picture

I'll donate the piss.

Zero Point's picture

I'll bring my dancing shoes.

El Vaquero's picture

I'll let you go first for sanitary reasons. 

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

akak said:

And I'll even donate the dirt!

("Dirt" here meaning physical soil, of course, not the illegally and unconstitutionally obtained, blackmail-useful personal secrets of individual Americans.)

Although I wouldn't waste any good soil on the likes of Starfleet Commode-odor Keith Alexander, I would be glad to divert all nightsoil production to the cause.

Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

'Likely' to be unconstitutional?!  Yeah, as in Obama is likely a dipshit.  As in Mrs. Obama is likely never satisfied.  As in some congressmen are likely driven more by self-interest than in the good of the country.   As in the Earth is likely not flat.  As in one may likely visit ZH free-of-charge. 

As in ......

DaveyJones's picture

"I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection..."

but your honor, we can -Eric Holder 


SunRise's picture

Sir:  What do you believe is the source of this mistrust?

SunRise's picture

From Wikipedia: Andy Greenberg of Forbes said that NSA officials, including Alexander, in the years 2012 and 2013 "publicly denied–often with carefully hedged words–participating in the kind of snooping on Americans that has since become nearly undeniable."[16] In September 2013, Alexander was asked by Senator Mark Udall if it is the goal of the NSA to "collect the phone records of all Americans", to which Alexander replied:

"Yes, I believe it is in the nation's best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox that we could search."

—Keith B. Alexander, September 2013[20]
SWRichmond's picture

People in DC sure do like those lockboxes.

CH1's picture

The best sucker word they can find.

nmewn's picture

We should put them in one.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


We should put them in one.

If it's a Vichy DC style 'lockbox', what would prevent them from walking out one of the multiple open doors?

nmewn's picture

A few good men with very bad attitudes.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

My suggestion would then be that those few good men probably have better ways to spend their time and should just cut to the chase, break out the guillotines, and leave the heads of the guilty on pikes as a warning.

Dr. Destructo's picture

I would be happy to see the Gen. Alexander in front of a firing squad or behind bars bunked with a very promiscuous body builder that has a thing for generals.

So he thinks the best way to protect the U.S. is to treat all it's citizens as potential terrorists and criminals, and throw away our constitutional rights? Fascism has never sounded so benevolent. Does he remember his oath? To defend the constitution of the United States and so on? Or was that just an oath to defend the physical document itself?

He would be a traitor 50 years from now, and he IS a traitor today, but the only difference is that he is a state-sanctioned traitor.

May true justice catch up with the traitor

tarsubil's picture

I'm pretty sure the coffee you drank this morning had pee and hepatitis in it.

steelhead23's picture

It flat stuns me that there are even 3 (at this moment) ZH readers who agree with Gen. Keith Alexander.  My God, he is Goebbels reincarnate.  Yeah, I get it that it ain't really Alexander and its a joke, but this ain't funny.

knukles's picture

If I knew constitutional law I'd fix it myself

TheLoveArtist's picture

You only need to know the Constitution.  All the other law crap is a bunch of morons coming up with laws that try to get around what the Constitution clearly states.


HH              People won't be pissed until the teevee tells them they're pissed. Don't hold your breath for that one.

MachoMan's picture

or the SNAP cards fail...