Wed Jul 31, 2013, 02:42 PM
KoKo (80,818 posts)
"Edward Snowden Has Done the Senate Judiciary Committee's Work for Them" (Atlantic)
Edward Snowden Has Done the Senate Judiciary Committee's Work for Them
Despite the laudatory title of the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on NSA surveillance Wednesday morning ("Strengthening Privacy Rights and National Security: Oversight of FISA Surveillance Programs"), the last 24 hours have made one thing clear. A blizzard of new details and official documents released by the government stem not from the much-ballyhooed oversight of the three branches of government, but out of necessity, following the leaks from Edward Snowden.
As the committee gets set to meet, at least three substantial new sets of information have been made public thanks to what journalism professor Jay Rosen calls the "Snowden Effect."
According to The Washington Post, the Obama administration has declassified and will shortly release the full court order that compels Verizon to share metadata from its customers calls. The existence of that program was confirmed in June after Snowden released a "secondary" order approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court. What the government will provide today is, apparently, the full order.
The rationale for doing so is unquestionably the scrutiny that the collection of that metadata — information about the numbers involved in a call and its duration — has been under since the Snowden leak. Last week, the House narrowly defeated a measure that would have defunded the program. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, chief sponsor of the Patriot Act under which the data is collected, has suggested that the law's interpretation has been skewed to allow the bulk data collection.
The Justice Department also revealed in a court filing that it must inform suspects when the NSA's surveillance tools have been used to build the criminal cases against them, according to The Wall Street Journal. By doing so, the government opens itself up to new legal challenges to the programs.
For years, privacy advocates and private citizens have filed lawsuits seeking to challenge NSA surveillance. Many of those cases failed to gain traction because courts ruled the plaintiffs had no ability to prove they had been subjected to such surveillance.
Now at least one group of individuals might have standing to challenge such a law—any defendants accused of terrorism who can produce confirmation that the accusations were based in part on mass NSA data-gathering.
When the Supreme Court last year decided not to halt the NSA's surveillance, the primary rationale for doing so was that the plaintiffs in the suit couldn't demonstrate standing — that is, that they'd been affected by the surveillance. In the wake of the Snowden revelations, that decision received additional scrutiny, including statements from Solicitor General Donald Verrilli that the government informed suspects when that surveillance had been used in their prosecutions. In other words, Verrilli implied that there were more people who understood they had standing to challenge the surveillance than actually existed. Now, that will actually happen.
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"Edward Snowden Has Done the Senate Judiciary Committee's Work for Them" (Atlantic) (Original post)