The PJ Tatler

Judge Rules in Favor of Government on Surveillance Suit

Yesterday, a federal judge ruled in favor of the government in a lawsuit claiming the National Security Agency is conducting an illegal dragnet of internet and telephone records as they search out terrorists.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland said the plaintiffs in the case — AT&T customers — had not shown that all AT&T customers’ Internet communications were currently the subject of a “dragnet seizure and search program, controlled by or at the direction of the Government,” and they therefore did not have standing to file a lawsuit under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against warrantless searches and seizures.

According to the judge, the plaintiffs misunderstood “key parts of the data collection process.” He went to state that even if the plaintiffs had standing to bring suit, a Fourth Amendment claim would have to be dismissed in favor of government secrecy and national security.

“The Court is frustrated by the prospect of deciding the current motions without full public disclosure of the Court’s analysis and reasoning…,” White wrote in his ruling. “The Court is persuaded that its decision is correct both legally and factually and furthermore is required by the interests of national security.”

Nate Cardozo of the Electronic Freedom Foundation who brought the suit was disappointed.

“What we want is a court to rule on the merits of the NSA’s program,” he said. “Is what they are doing legal? Is it constitutional? The court didn’t do that. It didn’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no.'”

The EFF plans to continue fighting the case.