- Editor’s note: While this is from September 26, 2022, this story has gathered much attention about the sorry state of our surveillance state.
US courts must stop shielding government surveillance programs from accountability
The NSA’s surveillance of Americans’ internet use raises serious constitutional concerns, but the government claims a lawsuit against the program would compromise ‘state secrets’
From The Guardian:
Imagine the government has searched your home without a warrant or probable cause, rifling through your files, your bedroom dresser, your diary. You sue, arguing that the public record shows it violated your fourth amendment rights. The government claims that it has a defense, but that its defense is secret. The court dismisses the case.
That’s precisely what the federal government has increasingly said it can do in cases related to national security – under the so-called “state secret privilege”. It can violate constitutional rights, and then defeat any effort at accountability by claiming that its defense is secret – without even showing its evidence to a court behind closed doors.
The latest installment in this troubling trend involves the National Security Agency’s monitoring of Americans’ international internet communications.
Under a post-9/11 surveillance program known as “Upstream”, the NSA is systematically searching Americans’ internet communications as they enter and leave the United States. The agency sifts through these streams of data looking for “identifiers” associated with its many thousands of foreign targets – identifiers like email addresses and phone numbers. The NSA does all of this without warrants, without any individual judicial approval, and without showing that any of the people it is surveilling – including countless Americans – have done anything wrong.
This surveillance raises serious constitutional concerns, but no court has ever considered a legal challenge to it because the government has claimed that allowing a suit against Upstream surveillance to go forward would implicate “state secrets”.
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