End the Lie
The Obama administration recently released a white paper which summarizes the supposed legal justification for the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. Contained therein are some thoroughly nonsensical and leave the door open for massive invasions of privacy.
|Image credit: WeMeantDemocracy/Flickr)|
The Department of Justice white paper deals with the “Associational Tracking Program,” operated under section 215 of the Patriot Act, codified in the U.S. Code as 50 USC § 1861.
“There is no direct authorization for the Associational Tracking Program in section Patriot Act section 215,” writes Cindy Cohn, legal director and general counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The statute includes no authorization of the NSA’s mass collection and analysis of the Americans who are neither suspects nor targeted individuals.
Furthermore, the statute does not authorize such collection on a continuous basis or the practice of requiring records that have yet to be produced, as the court order did in requiring future records from Verizon.
“The plain meaning of the statute fails to reach their breathtaking and unprecedented activities and it isn’t even ambiguous about it,” Cohn writes.
The Obama administration’s legal argument then becomes quite troubling.
On page 16 of the white paper, the Justice Department argues that they can order prospective information because “nothing in the text of the statute suggests that FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] orders may relate only to records previously created.”