Let’s Be Clear, say Legal Experts, NSA Surveillance Dragnets Are ’Criminal’
2013-07-02 0:00

By Jon Queally | CommonDreams

Despite a vast selection of elected US officials from both parties and an outsized portion of the US media who have accepted the assurances from the Obama administration and the National Security Agency that the domestic spying programs revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden are someone "legal" under US statute, two legal scholars penned a sharply worded New York Times op-ed on Friday demanding better attention must be paid to the reality of what the disclosures truly show and that the programs be described as what they are: "criminal."

Jennifer Stisa Granick, director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, and law professor Christopher Jon Sprigman from the University of Virginia contend in their article, The Criminal NSA, that those supportive of government claims are simply "wrong" and that what we know about the programs is that they betray both "the letter and the spirit of federal law" designed to protect US citizens from government snooping of their private communications.

"No statute explicitly authorizes mass surveillance," they write.

"Through a series of legal contortions, the Obama administration has argued that Congress, since 9/11, intended to implicitly authorize mass surveillance. But this strategy mostly consists of wordplay, fear-mongering and a highly selective reading of the law. Americans deserve better from the White House — and from President Obama, who has seemingly forgotten the constitutional law he once taught."

Looking specifically at the two most damning revelations reported on by the Guardian newspaper so far—the vast collection of cell phone "metadata" from nearly all US citizens and the Prism program, which allows for vast collection of internet communication data from some of the online platforms most used by Americans—the two legal experts say that in both cases the NSA has employed "shockingly flimsy" legal arguments to defend their practices.

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Read the full article at: commondreams.org



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