Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hell of a footnote...

Okay, we have two conflicting lower-court rulings on the legality of what the NSA does, which means that the Supremes will have to weigh in. I'm not optimistic about any decision rendered by this Supreme Court -- after all, these are the people who gave us the outlandish Citizen's United decision. Then again...who knows? The Republican appointees on the court might want to stick a finger in Obama's eye, while the Democrat appointees might actually give a rat's ass about privacy.

In the meantime, lawyer William Cohn has discovered an interesting footnote in the decision rendered by Judge Leon on December 16. (That, as you may recall, was the ruling that went against the NSA.)
In Klayman v. Obama, federal judge Richard Leon debunks the biggest lie of all – that the NSA spy program effectively combats terror attacks. Buried deep in his ruling is a powerful nugget of truth which exposes that when the government says “trust us” we shouldn’t. Footnote 65, found at the bottom of page 62 of the 68-page ruling has received inadequate attention in the press. It reads:
The Government could have presented additional, potentially classified evidence in camera, but it chose not to do so. Although the Government has publicly asserted that the NSA’s surveillance programs have thwarted fifty-four terrorist attacks, no proof of that has been put before me.
The footnote then provides citations to propublica.org and The Washington Post, and statements by Senators Patrick Leahy and Ron Wyden to support Judge Leon’s skepticism. An in camera review is a secure proceeding whereby the judge reviews allegedly sensitive information in private. If there were evidence of the actual effectiveness of the spy program the government would have no reason not to present it to a judge in camera.

In other words, the Government lies, and we are foolish to accept self-serving claims made by those in power without proof.
Even though Clapper and other leaders of the intelligence community have clearly lied to us, the judge who issued the more recent ruling -- Judge William Pauley -- seems to think that the NSA's tactics have done wonderful things in the war on terrors:
U.S. District Judge William Pauley said in a written opinion that the program lets the government connect fragmented and fleeting communications and "represents the government's counter-punch" to the al Qaeda's terror network's use of technology to operate decentralized and plot international terrorist attacks remotely.

"This blunt tool only works because it collects everything," Pauley said. "The collection is broad, but the scope of counterterrorism investigations is unprecedented."
How do we reconcile Pauley's statement with Judge Leon's Footnote 65?
Comments:
The presence of absence is not proof of the absence of presense.

There is no contradiction. The fact that the government declined to offer evidence of potentially classified information in camera does not prove that such evidence does not exist.
 
How do we reconcile Pauley's ruling (which is verbatim from NSA talking points)?

Well, NSA's phone dragnet must have vacuumed up some really good dirt on Judge Pauley. Wonder what it is.
 
stickler -- I say it's a pretty good indication. What's the alternative? Do we accept everything the DNI says without proof?
 
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