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First US Appeals Court Hears Arguments To Shut Down NSA Database

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the good-luck-with-that dept.

The Courts 199

An anonymous reader writes: The second of two lawsuits filed against the U.S. government regarding domestic mass surveillance, ACLU vs. Clapper, was heard on Tuesday by "a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit." The proceeding took an unprecedented two hours (the norm is about 30 minutes), and C-SPAN was allowed to record the whole thing and make the footage available online (video). ACLU's lawyers argued that mass surveillance without warrants violates the 4th Amendment, while lawyers for the federal government argued that provisions within the Patriot Act that legalize mass surveillance without warrants have already been carefully considered and approved by all three branches of government. The judges have yet to issue their ruling.

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It's amazing (5, Insightful)

Aboroth (1841308) | about 4 months ago | (#47814971)

Our entire government seems to think the constitution can be superseded by any other law whatsoever, as if the constitution being the highest law of the land doesn't actually overrule anything that contradicts it. It's as if the constitution is completely meaningless.

Sigh.

Re:It's amazing (5, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | about 4 months ago | (#47815023)

Wow this guy catches on fast.

Re:It's amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815037)

The constitution already have 27 amendments to it and several more pending. Clearly it's not as set in stone as some people think.
 

Re:It's amazing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815053)

Do you have a point? Unless the constitution says this is okay at this very moment, then this is unconstitutional.

Re:It's amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815099)

My point is that the constitution isn't some magic document, it's just a piece of paper that has no power beyond what one enforces.
Unless you are willing to go up against the government and enforce the constitution with violence if necessary the constitution is irrelevant since the government can do as it pleases.
If you are willing to take up arms against the government and have the resources to succeed then the constitution is still irrelevant since you then can enforce whatever rules you seem fit, constitutional or not.

So yes, it might be unconstitutional, but that doesn't mean anything, it's just a word.

Re:It's amazing (1)

qbast (1265706) | about 4 months ago | (#47815209)

TL;DR version: might makes right.

Re:It's amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815603)

No. "might makes right" implies a certain form of ethics, that is not what I meant.

Re:It's amazing (4, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47815851)

So yes, it might be unconstitutional, but that doesn't mean anything, it's just a word.

There are no words to describe how wrong you are here so im not even gonna waste my breath

the constitution specifically states that anything not in the document is NOT permissible by the federal government. The constitution does not give the PEOPLE rights, it LIMITS the governments.

As pointed out there is an amendment process if the federal government feels it needs more power concerning X. Unfortunately the feds have bastardized executive orders and the interstate commerce clause to superceed the constitution. It is wrong simple as that. and more and more americans are waking up to this fact.

Does it? (0)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 4 months ago | (#47816327)

"The constitution specifically states that anything not in the document is NOT permissible by the federal government."

Where does it specifically state that? I think you WANT it to specifically state that, but I don't think it does..... Articles 1-3 set up the congress, president, and supreme court. Article 4 sets up the states. Article 5 allows for amendments. Article 6 is debts and treaties. Article 7 is definitions and signatures. I just skimmed it. It's not that long. It doesn't specifically say that anywhere. Did I miss it?

It DOES say in article 4 "The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States".

So, it looks really like it's the exact opposite of what you're saying. It looks like you're specifically stating something that's not quite true. You WANT it to be true, but it's not. The text is right there for anyone to read.

If I'm wrong, please point out the relevant section.

Re:Does it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816473)

It is most likely an overly broad interpretation of the the tenth amendment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

Re:Does it? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47816859)

overly broad? its a single sentence! I dont understand why SO many people have trouble understanding single sentence amendments in america.

Re:Does it? (4, Informative)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47816497)

really??? can you count to 10? The 10th amendment

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

who modded you up??

Re:Does it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816549)

man I really hope you are not an American (but would not be surprised) as you clearly can quote things, but you flagrantly ignore the single sentence 10th amendment

Re:It's amazing (2)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 4 months ago | (#47816063)

My point is that the constitution isn't some magic document, it's just a piece of paper that has no power beyond what one enforces. Unless you are willing to go up against the government and enforce the constitution with violence if necessary the constitution is irrelevant since the government can do as it pleases. If you are willing to take up arms against the government and have the resources to succeed then the constitution is still irrelevant since you then can enforce whatever rules you seem fit, constitutional or not.

So yes, it might be unconstitutional, but that doesn't mean anything, it's just a word.

Nothing has meaning until we give it meaning. Our entire society is just a bunch of agreements and customs. There is no God that will enforce the Constitution from on high. But the Constitution is understood to express our values as a society. It is an attempt to lay the groundwork for a stable, just and equitable civilization.

So yeah, unconstitutional is just a word. But it has meaning. That's actually inherent to words; they have meaning. It means that something is contrary to our values. But it also has the power of law. So saying that unconstitutional is just a word and has no meaning is to invalidate the concept of law. Of course it only has as much power as we enforce. Congratulations, you just described every law in the world.

Re:It's amazing (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 4 months ago | (#47815201)

Name the amendments that *restrict* people's freedoms rather than serve to limit government over-reach.

Re:It's amazing (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 4 months ago | (#47815219)

I'll have a go: the Eighteenth [wikipedia.org] .

i get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815273)

you are drinking beer while using the net they can spy on you but to know this they need a camera up my dick

Re:It's amazing (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 4 months ago | (#47815483)

Name one that hasn't been repealed.

Re:It's amazing (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47815861)

how about you try and pick one that the government didnt realize it was wrong on already??

Re:It's amazing (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 4 months ago | (#47815215)

It was never meant to be set in stone. It was meant to be honored, however.

Re:It's amazing (3)

Githaron (2462596) | about 4 months ago | (#47816205)

The constitution was never meant to be imutable; it was meant to be supreme. Because it is supposed to be supreme, the rules for modifying are much greater than the rules for creating/modifying lesser laws. The problem is that many of the government's parts do not want to treat it as supreme because it is so hard to modify. They would rather do what they think they can get away with constitutional or not.

Re:It's amazing (2, Insightful)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 4 months ago | (#47815043)

Imagine having to come up with an immutable law that will still have to be applicable after another two hundred years of scientific and technological progress and you too may understand why constitutions need to be amended from time to time.

Which is of course not to say that the argument from the government's lawyers isn't absurd and indicative of injustice.

Re:It's amazing (5, Insightful)

Feces's Edge (3801473) | about 4 months ago | (#47815055)

Imagine having to come up with an immutable law that will still have to be applicable after another two hundred years of scientific and technological progress and you too may understand why constitutions need to be amended from time to time.

But they're not trying to amend it at all; they're just ignoring it. And if they did try to amend it, everyone should oppose them simply because mass surveillance is wrong.

Re:It's amazing (5, Insightful)

brxndxn (461473) | about 4 months ago | (#47816465)

This.. Amending the Constitution means they are abiding by it and admitting it is authoritative. Without amending it, it means they are attempting to subvert it.

The fact that the federal, state, and local governments are going out of their way to create all sorts of circumstances where the Bill of Rights are ignored shows that there is a widespread attempt at completely removing the Constitutional framework. Peoples' rights are only violated when those rights are needed most.

Re:It's amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816689)

That's right, and it's one of the reasons the constitution is not 1000 pages or more. It is short and to the point. Those are easy to understand and very easy to comply with.

Everybody has a right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizure. it does not say anything about being secret or not. An unreasonable search and seizure can take place against you with your knowledge, or without your knowledge; it's still unreasonable.

Re:It's amazing (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 4 months ago | (#47815109)

> Imagine having to come up with an immutable law that will still have to be applicable after another two hundred years

A law stating principles can do that and more.
Matthew 22:36-40

Re:It's amazing (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 4 months ago | (#47815127)

And she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.
Ezekiel 23:20

Re:It's amazing (1)

mrbester (200927) | about 4 months ago | (#47815199)

Yeah, but her sister was worse.

Re:It's amazing (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815213)

And her pussy smelled of unbaked bread and cheese.

Re:It's amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816687)

Pray tell: what's mutable about it?

Re:It's amazing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815405)

A law stating principles can do that and more.
Matthew 22:36-40

We don't give a fuck about what your stupid book says, because it's written by humans.

Now, go beat your wife with a stick no larger than your thumb and keep slaves like it says elsewhere in your stupid fucking bible.

Fuck your god.

Re:It's amazing (3, Interesting)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#47815211)

and you too may understand why constitutions need to be amended from time to time.

Luckily, our Constitution has a provision for amending it. Article V, in fact.

When the government decides to go through that process, what they're doing will become Constitutional.

Alas, just passing a law doesn't meet the requirements of Article V.

Re:It's amazing (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 4 months ago | (#47816057)

Alas, just passing a law doesn't meet the requirements of Article V.

Actually, passing a law does and can, and that can happen with no objection from The People, because The People are the ones who made the law.

For instance, some federally subsidized housing prohibits firearms on the premises as a condition of occupancy. Some prisoners in federal jails are not allowed to vote.

Re:It's amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816111)

Actually, passing a law does and can

No, it can't.

For instance, some federally subsidized housing prohibits firearms on the premises as a condition of occupancy. Some prisoners in federal jails are not allowed to vote.

That the government ignores the constitution does not mean that mere laws qualify as an amendment to the highest law of the land.

Re:It's amazing (3, Funny)

spacepimp (664856) | about 4 months ago | (#47815317)

In no way is secret ruling, by a secret court, about secret interpretations of temporary Acts an amendment to the Constitution.

Re:It's amazing (0)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47815867)

the only people trying to get amendments passed (done via constitutional convention) as the libertarian leaning tea party members. Everyone else seems content being unconstitutional

Re:It's amazing (4, Informative)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 4 months ago | (#47816499)

Look up Wolf-PAC. I'm a member, and I'm sad to say that most of us are left leaning. There's a fair bit of libertarians in there with us. I'm not a Tea Partier. So, you're wrong again.

Ahem. I'm not just a member, I'm a volunteer coordinator for my state. I've met with my reps.

Lefties love this country too. I'd say we love it more. We're always the ones complaining when it does bad things. I see the EFF and the ACLU fighting the government's overreach in the courts. I see Lefties in the streets, for specific causes. I don't see a lot of Tea Party folks doing much of anything really. Sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but I really don't see them. Who is against the stupid wars we fight? Who complains when we topple democratically elected leaders? Where's the Right's Noam Chomsky? Who was against slavery? Who actually fights in the courts against government overreach? Lefties....

Who rants about guns when there hasn't been a serious push to take away guns at all? Righties. Tea Partiers.

So don't give me any shit about the Tea Party Libertarians being the only ones fighting. Lefties have a long and far better history of fighting against government overreach than anyone else.

Unless you want to call The Government Actually Helping People as overreach. Then, yes, Righties fight against government overreach all the time. damn social security! Damn welfare! Damn the VA. Damn government health insurance! Damn interstate highways! Damn FDR and paying people to build infrastructure we're still using today and that benefited the nation greatly!

Re:It's amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816869)

Who rants about guns when there hasn't been a serious push to take away guns at all?

Everyone, including "lefties," should be angry about unconstitutional gun laws (of which there are many), just like they should be angry about any violation of the constitution. What a lot of people who want gun control miss is that they should at least try to amend the constitution to get what they want, not just ignore it. Felons shouldn't be forbidden from having guns, and neither should the "mentally ill." At least, not until the constitution is amended to say that that's okay.

Re:It's amazing (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47816871)

To be fair, I was referring to politicians, there are only a few libertarian leaning members of congress pushing for a constitutional convention. You are totally correct though, libertarians are not left or right so much as they are north. I know a little about WOLF PAC, and i like the concept.

Re:It's amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816889)

who was against slavery??? sorry but that was in fact the republicans, but thats not really the fight we are trying to have here, just had to point out the issue with that one

Re:It's amazing (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 4 months ago | (#47816099)

Yes and fortuitously the Constitution defines a process by which it may be amended. Mind you that process was intentionally designed to require many parties with diverse interests to agree, so as to ensure the need is real and it isn't abused.

Re:It's amazing (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 4 months ago | (#47815187)

Which is why any discussion or legislation of it is pointless.

All of these agencies have been doing what they want, with complete disregard for the Constitution. As a result, they have paid . . . absolutely no price. How would enacting legislation that says "no, really, you totally have to be bound by the Constitution like fucking everyone else" change anything? They've always disregarded it, so why would they change? If anything were to happen, it would simply be to drive them to further clandestine levels to cover up the shit they're doing.

Besides, it's all over anyway, come the next 9/11. All America needs is a second significant terrorist attack on its soil and the population will fold like a deck chair. Once was scary. We caved into a lot as it was. One more time, it'll be a pattern and we'll always just be waiting for the next attack to come. To avoid that, we'll let you install video cameras in our home and inject us with transponders, for all we care.

Our destination is sadly inevitable. It's only a question of how quickly we arrive there.

come the next 9/11 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815245)

So all it would take to end this discussion would be a "next 9/11"? How about rigging one up?

Oh, wait...

Re:come the next 9/11 (1)

buckfeta2014 (3700011) | about 4 months ago | (#47815395)

Keep talking like that and they'll send the black vans...

Re:It's amazing (3, Insightful)

bigpat (158134) | about 4 months ago | (#47816245)

it would simply be to drive them to further clandestine levels to cover up the shit they're doing.

Actually, that is the point. Making them afraid to violate the constitution is victory. Having a law doesn't mean that everyone will actually follow the law, that is naive. Respect for the rule of law means shame for those violating it. The fact that we have Generals, Congressmen and Presidents standing up and saying that the government should have the power to seize any records they want without warrant is itself remarkably dire for Freedom and Liberty.

When Nixon's dirty tricks brigade stole business records from the Democratic Party offices he had shame enough to cover it up and Congress was about to impeach him. Today the president and thousands of people in the Executive branch and contractors have the power to seize all those types of records and more at the touch of a button, but they aren't cowering in dark places but rather when we find out about it they are waving the flag and calling it Apple Pie Patriotism to take what isn't theirs. Shame is exactly what they need.

Re:It's amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816573)

You are onto something. Last week I got into a minor spat with a co-worker who told me 9/11 changed everything and I should be happy I am taking my shoes off to save another 3000 souls.

IT will prolly take one more bigger attack and "think of the children" crowd will pounce on it like a hobo on a sammich.

Re:It's amazing (1)

deathguppie (768263) | about 4 months ago | (#47816915)

To avoid that, we'll let you install video cameras in our home and inject us with transponders

On the up side, at least we won't have to deal with those awful ankle bracelet transponders. It's good to see modern technology used wisely in the enslavement and control of future citizens. Why I remember way, back when in the 80's when governments had to compile huge warehouses full of paper documents in order to keep current dossiers on all it's people. You kids and your technology.. heh..

Re:It's amazing (4, Interesting)

StormReaver (59959) | about 4 months ago | (#47815291)

It's as if the constitution is completely meaningless.

You beat me to the point. The parts of the so-called "Patriot" Act that authorize warrantless surveillance in violation of the 4th amendment are invalid and illegal. It doesn't matter what parts of our government say otherwise; any law that violates the Constitution is not valid law.

That being said, our governments's actions are backed by a large body of people armed with the most powerful weapons in the world. Unless we're willing to fight and die for the Constitution (which 99.999% of us aren't willing to do), we are truly screwed. That is because the only other option we have is to drop party politics and actually vote in our best interests (which 99.999% of us are too stupid to do) to restore a government which actually exists within its own legal limits.

Re:It's amazing (0)

buckfeta2014 (3700011) | about 4 months ago | (#47815387)

AMERICA, FUCK YEAH.

Re:It's amazing (1, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | about 4 months ago | (#47815441)

Our entire government seems to think the constitution can be superseded by any other law whatsoever

That's just what I was thinking. It seesm they're arguing "Now that we have the patriot act on the books and it allows this, the constitution doesn't count.'"

Wait, what?

Re:It's amazing (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47815521)

Well, they're saying that since it's "only" metadata, it's not the same as getting all the data, and since the metadata is already used for billing, it can't be secret, right?

The second half of the equation seems to be "since we passed this law, it must be legal because we said so".

I figure if eventually a court doesn't say "sorry guys, but you really can't do that just because you say so", then America has pretty much jumped the shark and the Constitution no longer applies.

And then things will get really interesting.

I'm sure no lawyer, but it's always been incomprehensible how this could NOT violate the 4th amendment, because it amounts to general warrants and collecting everything just in case you need it.

And when law enforcement started doing parallel reconstruction, you could see how all of their claims of "don't worry, citizen, we will only use this for terrorism" were completely false.

9/11 triggered (or simply sped up) a decline into a totalitarian state where the law is whatever the government says it is, and the Constitution is meaningless.

Re:It's amazing (1)

IMightB (533307) | about 4 months ago | (#47815849)

It's only metadata was the original line.... It's since come out that it's NOT just "metadata". Besides, it's not like the Constitution says "BTW metadata is OK lol"

Re:It's amazing (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 4 months ago | (#47815523)

Our entire government seems to think the constitution can be superseded by any other law whatsoever, as if the constitution being the highest law of the land doesn't actually overrule anything that contradicts it. It's as if the constitution is completely meaningless. Sigh.

Stop throwing the constitution in our faces, it's just a goddamned piece of paper.

Re:It's amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815789)

Somehow it should be a contract between humans, which is written on a piece of paper. It is a contract to overcome the natural law.

If you understand that fully then you also understand, that you have to fight for it, but without guns.

Now there are some great ideas that are part of most of such contracts, one is called: Presumption of innocence.

When someone talks about a constitution he probably talks about that philosophical concepts and not about the piece of paper.

Re:It's amazing (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47815889)

we will stop throwing it in your face when you fucking understand that it is the law of the land and NOTHING superceeds it, no matter how much you totalitarians want it to

Re:It's amazing (3, Informative)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47815843)

I watched the entire hearing last night, and Its hard to tell which side the judge panel was on, however they did seem to be more interested in the ACLU side over the governments. Obviously we have to wait and see but these judges did NOT seem dumb in the slightest

Re:It's amazing (4, Insightful)

bigpat (158134) | about 4 months ago | (#47816157)

Our entire government seems to think the constitution can be superseded by any other law whatsoever, as if the constitution being the highest law of the land doesn't actually overrule anything that contradicts it. It's as if the constitution is completely meaningless.

What fewer people seem to realize is that the Constitution is there to keep us safer than we would be otherwise with a government which could use force against the people without restraint. A lawless society isn't a society where there aren't laws, it is a society where there is no respect for the rule of law.

The mass confiscation of business records in the United States is a once in a generation threat to Liberty.

Re:It's amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816635)

That is exactly what the problem is. Those in power are not actually following the rule of law, and it's because they have been allowed to get away with it for so long, that it has become business as usual.

The District Attorney, Attorney General, and prosicutors have faile to go after these officials, and so THEY are the biggest issue.

In other news.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47814979)

In other news... The provisions within the Patriot Act were carefully considered before approval and not just a power grab as we suspected.

Re:In other news.... (3, Informative)

disposable60 (735022) | about 4 months ago | (#47815393)

It was a gigantic pile of legislation - so big it looked like it had to have been ready to go on 9/10 - and was passed and signed in alarmingly little time, almost without debate or dissent. At least that's the way it seemed at the time.

Re:In other news.... (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47815555)

and was passed and signed in alarmingly little time, almost without debate or dissent

And, worse, anybody who did dissent was accused of sympathizing with terrorists.

And debate was reduced to "ZOMG, but, teh terrorists ... why do you hate America?", and hasn't really gotten much better since.

"So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause." -- Padme Amidala

Re:In other news.... (0)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47815891)

exactly like the ACA, - anytime there is a rush to a vote, remember people, its bad for us simple americans

Re:In other news.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815953)

I'm no fan of the ACA, but don't conflate mandatory health insurance with unlimited spying of everyone. They are not remotely comparable.

Re:In other news.... (0)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47816131)

im not talking about "mandatory health insurance" im talking about the ACA
Bad bills get rushed through, either pro or anti universal HC is not important to my point i just chose it as its more recent news.

Again, all i am asking is for bills to be read, both by congress (read aloud in session so EVERYONE is clear on the ENTIRE bill) and made public for us simple folk to read BEFORE a vote is taken

Re:In other news.... (4, Interesting)

turp182 (1020263) | about 4 months ago | (#47816027)

You appear to be correct, there was likely a draft and it was on the books about 6 weeks after 9/11.

9/11/2001 was the hijackings. The USA PATRIOT Act was introduced on October 23rd, 2001, passed the House on the 24th, passed the Senate on the 25th, and was signed by George W. Bush on the 26th. So about 6 weeks from the event.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

The bill was 131 pages, creating or amending some 100 laws/sections.

Text (and original bill PDF): https://www.govtrack.us/congre... [govtrack.us]

Someone had to have a draft prepared ahead of 9/11. I would bet it was probably drawn up from the neo-con PNAC report "Rebuilding America's Defenses", which was released in September 2000. The document even referred to "a new Pearl Harbor": Section V of Rebuilding America's Defenses, entitled "Creating Tomorrow's Dominant Force", includes the sentence: "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor". PNAC was a pretty scary and very powerful group (Bush appointed about 20 people from the group to positions in his administration).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

Re: In other news.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816135)

i seem to remember something about those that trade liberty for security...

Re:In other news.... (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 4 months ago | (#47816469)

It was a gigantic pile of legislation - so big it looked like it had to have been ready to go on 9/10 - and was passed and signed in alarmingly little time, almost without debate or dissent. At least that's the way it seemed at the time.

That's the way it seems now, too.

Re:In other news.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816823)

It passed the first body of Congress (the House, IIRC) *BEFORE* the final text of the bill was actually available to be *read* by said body of Congress. It passed the other body a few hours later. Not nearly long enough for *anyone* to have read and understood the hundreds of pages of the bill.

disingenious (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 4 months ago | (#47814983)

lawyers for the federal government argued that provisions within the Patriot Act that legalize mass surveillance without warrants have already been carefully considered and approved by all three branches of government

Two of which are irrelevant for deciding constitutionally.

And if a higher court has already agreed that what they are using the Patriot Act to justify is constitutional, they need merely cite the case. Otherwise they're just trying to blow smoke up the judges' asses. Or arguing that Appeals Courts' opinions don't matter.

(I wouldn't think either was a good strategy for an argument in an Appeals Court, but maybe they think Appeals Courts' judges are stupid.)

Re: disingenious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815005)

If you had to argue for the legality of it, could you think of a better argument? (There are no good arguments for mass surveillance.)

Re: disingenious (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815241)

There are many good arguments for mass surveillance, I can think up many on the spot:
It could help solve unsolved crimes.
It could help catch criminals, repast, kidnappers, etc...
It could help keep people honest, even large businesses.

The problem is not that there are no good arrangements for mass surveillance, it's how scary the arrangements against it are.
My problem is that the government is run by people, just ordinary people. Granted many of them have proven their ability, but even the best person has been shown to change when given unquestionable power without accountability. So, when I imagine mass surveillance I have it envision it being handled by the worst person possible. Possibly someone who has a vendetta against me. I wouldn't want someone like that being in charge of that kind of power, ergo no one should have that kind of power.

While I agree with mass surveillance, I can't trust anyone enough to hand over those keys. Thus it should not exist.

The Patriot Act was passed on he cusp of one of the worst tragedies in American history, as are many gun control laws. These are times when peoples emotions get to them more than their logic. If any law, bill, act, etc.. needs that kind of event to push itself forward, and you need such a thing to defend your actions, then your actions are not really defensible.

Re: disingenious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815391)

There are many good arguments for mass surveillance, I can think up many on the spot:
It could help solve unsolved crimes.
It could help catch criminals, repast, kidnappers, etc...
It could help keep people honest, even large businesses.

Not a single one of those are good arguments for mass surveillance. A good argument does not ignore the constitutional and moral questions of violating people's fundamental liberties.

Re: disingenious (2)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47815901)

that was actually his point. While yes, his ideas of "good reasons" are in fact good reasons

HOWEVER, when you weigh the negatives against the good, its far far and away bad over all. In fact, we already have a quote on this very topic that goes hand in hand

Id rather let 100 guilty men walk, then lock up one innocent man

Replace lock up with infringe on their rights.

Re: disingenious (1)

SpankiMonki (3493987) | about 4 months ago | (#47815697)

It could help catch ... repast

I've always supported the apprehension of meals, especially those from the middle east.

Re: disingenious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816001)

There are many good arguments for mass surveillance, I can think up many on the spot:

I agree, every politician in the US should be under constant surveillance from the time they take office till ten years out of office. Think of all the crimes we could solve if LAW ENFORCEMENT, CORPORATIONS and the ULTRA RICH were under constant surveillance too. That's the trouble with this country, those that are under surveillance shouldn't be and those that aren't should.

Re:disingenious (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 4 months ago | (#47815581)

lawyers for the federal government argued that provisions within the Patriot Act that legalize mass surveillance without warrants have already been carefully considered and approved by all three branches of government

Two of which are irrelevant for deciding constitutionally.

And if a higher court has already agreed that what they are using the Patriot Act to justify is constitutional, they need merely cite the case. Otherwise they're just trying to blow smoke up the judges' asses. Or arguing that Appeals Courts' opinions don't matter.

(I wouldn't think either was a good strategy for an argument in an Appeals Court, but maybe they think Appeals Courts' judges are stupid.)

It would surprise me if they ruled against the government in this matter. This turd is going to get handed on all the way up to the supreme court. Major players and two presidents from both the Republican and Democratic party have stood behind this mass surveillance, one by setting up the operation and the other by doing nothing to dismantle it but rather making the same liberal use of the mass surveillance data as his predecessor. Ruling against the government in this matter is a career ending move for anybody involved in the decision unless they are have reached the peak of the promotion ladder and are unfireable like the supreme court judges are. What is interesting is will the supreme court choose to hear this case, or bail out the government by refusing to hear it? Apparently they hear no more than 100 cases a year. It all boils down to whether or not the judges (2nd Circuit or Supreme Court) have the balls to flip a bird at the White House and the entire Republican and Democratic establishments or not.

Re:disingenious (2)

SpankiMonki (3493987) | about 4 months ago | (#47815729)

Ruling against the government in this matter is a career ending move for anybody involved in the decision unless they are have reached the peak of the promotion ladder and are unfireable like the supreme court judges are.

The judges in this matter are in fact appointed for life.

Re:disingenious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816031)

The judges in this matter are in fact appointed for life.

True, but don't forget that the Obama Regime has claimed the power to kill US citizens on a whim without any kind of judicial oversite.

Re:disingenious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816501)

I think you are confusing statutory law with common law. Under common law jurisdiction a ruling will be based on precidence, on past rullings, but under statutory law, it is based strickly on written law.

Under statutory law, SOME provisions of the patriot act may be constitutional in SOME ways they are applied. But in this case it is a lower law in direct conflict with higher law; the highest law in the land in fact.

If there is a diret conflict, the higher law prevails. If it were possible for a lower law to trump the constitution, then the Constitution would serve no purpose and would be invalid. The very document that grants power to the court, and if it's invalid, thn that is not a court, and he is not a judge.

sure ok, shutting down will work..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815027)

Shutdown, rename, reboot, continue.

Goddamn this shit is fucking important (2)

korbulon (2792438) | about 4 months ago | (#47815049)

The ruling will provide a key insight into the judicial landscape on mass surveillance. So far both the legislative and executive branches have been in a race to suck each other off with massive expansions of surveillance programs: in spite of all the "gridlock" in Washington, their seems to be little argument regarding this particular issue. And the judicial branch has for the most part remained sidelines, refusing to weigh in. But if ever the phrase "silence implies consent" rang true, it's here.

Based on this ruling we should be able to surmise if this whole system of checks and balances kinda sorta works, or is basically a farce. My guess is that they'll come up with some bullshit about such programs being vital for national security and that it's not a constitutional issue, and the farce will be complete.

Migrating the system to another company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815065)

So no longer NSA spies... someone else does...

Translation (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815073)

provisions within the Patriot Act that legalize mass surveillance without warrants have already been carefully considered and approved by all three branches of government

"The rubber stamps already rubber-stamped it. Know your place, citizen."

Re:Translation (1)

buckfeta2014 (3700011) | about 4 months ago | (#47815399)

mod parent up

NSA and the Desolation of Smaug (4, Insightful)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 4 months ago | (#47815105)

~repost~ [slashdot.org]

And over time the men of Dale had become complacent on privacy, liberty and freedom of association, and yet they prospered. No longer content with the wealth of accumulation, they valued innovation and the free exchange of information. To this end they did help to build the greatest communications network that had ever been. Through it all their wealth flowed like a river --- real wealth --- not the dusty treasure hordes of kings locked in windowless rooms.

The fortune and fate of Dale is bound with that of the dwarves, for it is they who had built it. "Long ago in my grandfather Thror's time our family was driven out of the far North, and came back with all their wealth and their tools to this Mountain on the map." They were especially skilled in working gold, copper and silver into thin filaments which they strung far across the land. Where ever dwarves settled dial tone was sure to follow. But their skill was even greater with jewels and crystals, from which they built magical devices of geranium and silicon to carry voices and information in the aether. Altogether those were good days for us, and the poorest of us had money to spend and to lend, and leisure to make beautiful things just for the. fun of it, not to speak of the most marvelous and magical toys [...] and the toy-market of Dale was the wonder of the North."

But of all the wonders of that age the most precious was perhaps the least visible, hidden deep under the Mountain itself. "Discovered by my far ancestor, Thrain the Old, now they mined and they tunneled and they made huger halls and greater workshops." The Mountain they had built is actually many mountains and there is one in your own city. I refer to the telecommunications exchange points of Tier 1 and Tier 2 networks such as MAE-EAST and MAE-WEST, where rivers of voice and data converge into brilliant points of light, then spread out again.

The dwarves had not valued privacy per se, they had just built it for maximum throughput with minimum delay. Their vision was broad and down-to-earth and the data it carried was of practical use for the greatest number. "We use our own devices and just enough magic to make them go. Devices such as the palantir are of no interest to us, the Elves of Valinor can keep their silly patents. The palantir does work for distance communication but it is incredibly expensive and uses a lot of bandwidth. It is also dangerous. If you wish to talk to family and friend, or close a simple deal, why would you wish to link minds, wrestle in thought or lock souls with the other party? The dwarves deliver only voices and runes and stay clear of elvish mind-fuck. Besides, the palantir uses a proprietary network and has no user-servicable parts. Like the Blackberry."

But the dwarves' cleverness though inspired by wisdom was also their folly. While great wealth flowed through their network they were driven to perfect it, and that meant concentrating the flows of many through but a few interconnect points.

"Undoubtedly that was what brought the dragon. Dragons burrow themselves into networks to steal information you know, wherever they can find it; and they guard their plunder as long as they live (which is practically forever, unless they are outed by Congressional hearing), and --- if you would believe them --- they do it for only noble purposes and never enjoy a brass ring of it. Indeed they hardly know a good bit of information from a bad, though they usually have a good notion of the current market value; so despite noble aims of vigilant protection, their omnificent awareness inevitably leads to dull and stupid ends that rend the fabric of society. Insider trading, scheming false flag operations and a 'selective failure' to divulge clear warning of terrorism if it would serve their own ends, a dragon is easily turned to the dark side by its very nature." As the dwarves tell it we would be better off without these dragons altogether, and if you do not agree then perhaps you had better give it some more thought.

Smaug has infiltrated the dwarves' great network in many secret stages worldwide, such as the USUK [fas.org] [fas.org] and Room 641A [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] and countless other interconnection points within your own country listening to your own citizens too. The dwarves' dark fiber has been lit to carry these intercepted riches to his many lairs. You might learn of them if you could convince Congress to ask Smaug directly.

But Smaug has but one weakness, and that is the rule of law that has been established by the Constitution. There is no question that Smaug has violated us, and if left unchecked he will betray us in the end. A mighty witch-king will arise and the dragons will tell your secrets to them, and none will be safe in the end. And do not blame the dwarves, their folly is also your own.

Will the mighty bow of Bard sing in our own time? There is but one black arrow left.

Your move.

Re:NSA and the Desolation of Smaug (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#47815233)

geranium

They used FLOWERS???

Or did you mean germanium?

Re:NSA and the Desolation of Smaug (1)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 4 months ago | (#47815339)

They used FLOWERS???
Or did you mean germanium?

OOPS yeah thanks. Only Elvish tech uses certain flowers and essential oils because the scents stir their shared cultural memory, traverse the elf blood brain barrier easily and allow them to perceive history as one glorious song. Selective cultivation over eons has allowed elves to tailor flower DNA to store their herd memory in complex organic molecules. Either that or the tales were written into flowers all along and the elves adopted that story as their own, who can say.

Other hominids lack these specific receptors so it can come across as a dull throbbing headache, low rushing sound or whispering voices. If you hear voices in elevators and hallways it is likely that elvish tech is used in the building. Elvetech should always be used with adequate ventilation.

Re:NSA and the Desolation of Smaug (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#47815371)

Either that or the tales were written into flowers all along and the elves adopted that story as their own, who can say.

At least we don't have to worry about oracular slugs....

I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816125)

How about a My Little Ponies or Spongebob Squarepants metaphor for the new generation?

This lawsuit's great and all... (1, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | about 4 months ago | (#47815119)

But if anyone believes this database is gonna actually be shut down, erased, etc, I have some beach-front property to sell you. Best case scenario is is gets ruled illegal and then moved deeper underground, and we can all pretend that it's really not operating anymore.

Next steps... (3, Insightful)

bigpat (158134) | about 4 months ago | (#47816749)

Once it is clear again that it is illegal and unconstitutional for the government to order people to hand over all their records without a warrant, then companies will again have the right to refuse records requests and privacy agreements become valid contracts again. That at least allows people to again choose companies with better privacy policies which have contractual weight to privacy violations. Right now the government just jots down a few sentences on a piece of paper, hands it to the company and the company is required to give them whatever the government wants without a warrant and the company can't tell you about it, and you can't sue them for violating any privacy provisions of their contract with you even when you find out about it later. Sure some companies will roll over... based on past behavior you can probably expect Verizon and Comcast to just continue the practice under an agreement instead of an order. But there could be some VOIP phone providers that don't play ball with the NSA and will have privacy agreements that say so. Same with other businesses, there will again be some freedom to pick and choose companies based on privacy concerns.

No Place to Hide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815345)

Edward Snowden sacrificed his personal freedom in order to bring the depth of the surveillance by the NSA to light. I have been reading "No Place to Hide" by Glenn Greenwald who was the Guardian reporter that Snowden turned over top secret documents in order to expose the vast extent of the NSA program. The book describes the events leading up to the articles that were published and the events afterwards. A nice historical read and a topic that will shape our [internet] world for years to come. Even if you believe the state of surveillance should exist in order to protect us from terrorists, it is in your best interest to understand the extent and extreme capabilities that have been developed as well as to imagine what these capabilities will eventually grow into as computers and AI improve if left unchecked.

Why? (1)

fullback (968784) | about 4 months ago | (#47815701)

I have this image of Leonard Cohen standing in the corner of the courtroom singing "Everybody Knows" during the hearing...

First US Appeals Court (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 4 months ago | (#47815751)

"the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit."

So is itt the first court or the second court?

In soviet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815917)

...NSA shuts down appeal court first, then YOU!

Congress may pass NO law... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47815999)

I think that sums it up nicely.

Any attempt by Congress to write / pass a law that violates the Constitution (or it's amendments) is treason, which is punishable by death.

I hope the government gets nailed ... (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 4 months ago | (#47816065)

... then they will learn that they can collect massive amounts of data, but they have to keep their mouths shut and control who has access.

Illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816271)

The Patriot Act is a lower law in direct conflict with a higher law. Lower laws do not trump higher laws. Rights prevail.

WHEN the NSA decides to violate rights, every citizen is well within their rights to obstruct it by any means if no warrant is involved.

The arguments on both sides were good (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47816365)

with the judges participating.
It was an interesting 2 hours of argument.

There appear to be two main, independent issues.

1) Is the current interpretation of the law what Congress intended?
          G: They reupped it twice after being told to go read the secret report telling how it was being used.
          P: Not that many folks actually knew what was happening. If they did not explicitly say yes, then the default is no.
          J: If we rule against this use, then the Congress can then explicitly say if this is what they meant.
                            This will require a public vote with the issues widely known to the public.
                            The judges doing this immediately should be tempered with the needs of keeping out the bad guys.

2) Is the bulk collection a reasonable search under the 4th amendment?
          G: Yes, it follows from Smith which is the 3rd party pen register precedent with no expectation of privacy.
          P: No, this is an extreme extension of Smith. We expect our privacy and we want it back. (My words)
          J: If this is a reasonable collection, there doesn't appear to be any end to what can be collected under this 3rd party logic.

The govt said that if nothing is done, the act is up for another reup in 2015.

Everybody agreed that there were other means possible with the phone companies holding the data.
This might not be as expedient but sounded like it would probably work.
It would lower the concern of no audit trail for a rouge, internal govt search of the data set.

It will be interesting to see how the judges rule.
It seems to me that if there is another way, it is unnecessary to put this much secret power in one place.
Which would make it an unreasonable search.

My sense was that the govt representative was resigned to this possible outcome.
It would be interesting to see if others watching the tape get the same sense.

If this is how things work out, it seems a use of the old negotiating technique of
ask for something really nuts so you can get something less nuts.

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