DC Court of Appeals refuses to rule on NSA spying; may be forced to

nsa logo - ILLEGALThe US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dealt a blow to a lawsuit challenging the NSA’s use of warrantless surveillance, claiming the plaintiff did not prove standing. The Washington Post reports, the court “ruled that public-interest lawyer Larry Klayman, the founder of Freedom Watch, has not proved that his own phone records were collected by the NSA — and so has not met a condition of bringing the lawsuit.” The ruling sent the case back to a lower court for further deliberation on the issue, and did not address the constitutionality or legality of the program.

Despite information made public by whistleblower Edward Snowden of the existence of spying programs, the DC Appeals Court ruling seems to take a page from the US Supreme Court ruling in the case of Clapper v Amnesty International from 2013. Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his opinion, the plaintiffs’ argument that they have the standing to challenge the program was based on a “highly
speculative fear.” He also wrote they “have no actual knowledge of the Government’s … targeting practices,” and “can only speculate as to how the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will exercise their discretion in determining which communications to target.”

In this case, Freedom Watch v CIA, Circuit Court Judge Stephen F. Williams wrote that Klayman “lack[s] direct evidence” that records pertaining to his calls “have actually been collected.” The Post adds, the court “observed that [Klayman’s] effort to prove standing was complicated by the possibility that the government could withhold information that would bolster his allegations.” Circuit Court Judge Janice Rogers Brown said, “Plaintiffs’ claims may well founder in that event. But such is the nature of the government’s privileged control over certain classes of information.”

In a separate court action in the DC federal court, RT reports, “five whistleblowers are suing the Justice Department, National Security Agency, FBI and their former directors for violating their constitutional and civil rights after they complained about government waste and fraud through proper channels.”

The five whistleblowers were subjected to “illegal searches and seizures, raids on their homes and places of business, false imprisonment, and cancellation of their security clearances after they complained about government waste and fraud at the NSA.” Techdirt reports, “the lawsuit points to the short-lived internet surveillance program THINTHREAD, which was ignored and abandoned in favor of something more expensive, but less protective of Americans’ communications.”

These cases go to show that the courts and other government agencies don’t really care about your rights. They care about protecting their power. Is it any wonder that Edward Snowden fled the country after blowing the whistle on the NSA? Why would he knowingly subject himself to numerous “civil liberties violations and other abuses,” not to mention a trial in which he’s not able to actually defend himself?

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