A Common Law Coup d'Etat: How NSA's Creative Interpretations Of Law Subvert Congress And The Rule of Law

Today, the federal District Court for the District of Columbia held that the NSA's bulk telephone metadata collection program under the USA PATRIOT Act violates the 4th Amendment. This is a tremendously important ruling--the first time a public court has had the chance to rule on programs revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Given the program's constitutional infirmities, it is more important than ever that Congress end this misuse of the USA PATRIOT Act. However, Deputy Attorney General James Cole testified earlier this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the NSA might continue its bulk collection of nearly all domestic phone call records, even if Congress does just that.  The USA FREEDOM ACT has bipartisan sponsorship from dozens of lawmakers, all of whom agree that the core purpose of the bill is to end NSA dragnet collection of Americans’ communication data. Yet, Cole said that the reform legislation wouldn’t necessarily inhibit the NSA’s surveillance capabilities because “it’s going to depend on how the court interprets any number of the provisions that are in [the legislation].” Comments like this betray a serious problem inside the Executive Branch. The Administration and the intelligence community believe they can do whatever they want, regardless of the laws Congress passes, so long they can convince one of the judges appointed to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to agree.  This isn’t the rule of law.  This is a coup d’etat. Read more

Add new comment