ABOVE THE LAW: US Gov’t Says Domestic Spying Cannot be Challenged in Court
How far will we stray from the Founding Fathers’ path?
Written in the genetic code of this great nation is a powerful aversion to oversized and overzealous government. From the very start, (more accurately: From the tea party before the very start), we have seen ourselves as the champions of liberty and the harbingers of liberty.
But, after 240 years of political and litigious galvanization, the crooks and the creeps of Washington DC have burrowed deep once again, and are now going so far as to claim that some of their egregious overreaches are now beyond oversight by the judicial system.
Abusive government behavior has again been found to be too sensitive to national security to face legal challenges in the court system. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a lower court’s dismissal of the Wikimedia Foundation’s lawsuit against a National Security Agency surveillance program revealed a decade ago by Edward Snowden. With “state secrets privilege” barring litigation, that leaves upcoming congressional debates over renewal of the law authorizing the program as the only recourse for civil liberties advocates.
“The U.S. Supreme Court today denied the Wikimedia Foundation’s petition for review of its legal challenge to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) ‘Upstream’ surveillance program,” Wikimedia announced February 21. “Under this program, the NSA systematically searches the contents of internet traffic entering and leaving the United States, including Americans’ private emails, messages, and web communications. The Supreme Court’s denial leaves in place a divided ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which dismissed Wikimedia’s case based on the government’s assertion of the ‘state secrets privilege.'”
The ruling was not well received.
“This decision is a blow to the rule of law,” commented Alex Abdo, of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which worked with Wikimedia and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “The government has now succeeded in insulating from public judicial review one of the most sweeping surveillance programs ever enacted. If the courts are unwilling to hear Wikimedia’s challenge, then Congress must step in to protect Americans’ privacy by reining in the NSA’s mass surveillance of the internet.”
The concept that any program within our government would be so protected is a preposterously arrogant suggestion by the federal apparatus, and provides our nation with yet another glaring example of how far we’ve strayed from the Founding Fathers’ path.
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