Since PRISM was revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013, all eyes have been on the NSA. There have been many who have defended the government agency’s invasive spying practices, assuring that they are in place for the good of the American people. Then there have been those who have vehemently opposed the actions taken by the NSA, claiming that the bulk surveillance of citizens without due process is a violation of constitutional rights set down in the fourth amendment.
The Aftermath of Snowden
When Edward Snowden leaked huge swathes of NSA classified documents, there was a lot of scrambling to assess the damage. With Snowden fleeing the country from fear of unfair trial, attempts were made to smear his name – accusations of working with Russia and, more recently, accusations that his leaks were cracked to reveal government operatives’ locations, putting them in danger. But by that point, the gig was up. The NSA’s actions had been brought to the attention of the American public, who reacted in a variety of ways.
What has Happened Since?
Most recently, after a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in May, the US Court of Appeals concurred that the NSA had misinterpreted a section of law (entitled Section 215) to allow themselves the freedom to collect domestic phone records en masse. Congress was locked on the decision, but then brought themselves to draft the USA Freedom Act, which would allow the NSA six months to cease its spying, but continue to collect data during that time. Despite contest from several civil liberties groups citing the Court decision, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled that the NSA could indeed continue its surveillance for at least another five months.
What Does This Mean?
In essence, this demonstrates a variety of problematic entities that exist to protect such things as the NSA’s spying programs, which, in spite of due process including the courts and Civil Liberty groups, can effectively supersede interpretations of the law which might harm their programs. This type of backroom litigation makes it very difficult to trust entities such as the NSA, which in the eyes of some have begun to make a farce of the American legal system.
Special thanks to David Cohn, one of the highly respected criminal lawyers Toronto Ontario.