WASHINGTON D.C. For Immediate Release. By Cody Salfen. More information has come to light with regard to the National Security Agency’s controversial cell phone data collection program. In a secret court opinion, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court recently affirmed the legality of the NSA’s data collection program’s practices and procedures. In the secret court’s ruling, the court will allow the NSA to continue to obtain most, if not all, mobile phone data records from cellular providers in the United States under a provision of the Patriot Act.
Although confidential, the court’s opinion was released last week in accordance with the secret court judge’s statement that the judgment should be made public because it pertains to the public’s interest. In light of the constitutional requirements that the government have a warrant in order to obtain certain information, the controversial National Security Agency cell phone data collection program sails under the veil of a provision of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act provision that allows the NSA to collect almost everyone’s cell phone records (in a collaborative effort with the Federal Bureau of Investigation), the government is allowed to collect “business records” relevant to an “authorized investigation.” The recent “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court” decision ruled that the NSA’s unilateral interpretation of the Patriot Act provision so as to include almost every individual’s cell phone data records in the United States complies with the United States Constitution under the Patriot Act. Read the full text of the article below (from the Wall Street Journal).
WASHINGTON—No telecommunications company has ever challenged the government’s orders to turn over records in the National Security Agency’s phone-data-collection program, according to a secret court’s opinion that was signed last month and released Tuesday.
The unusual move to release the opinion upholding the program, which stores the phone records of most Americans, came from the secret national-security court that oversees the program, suggesting an independent streak on the part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Judge Claire Eagan’s call to disclose the opinion, signed Aug. 29, appeared to be a first for the court, which has been criticized at times as too deferential to the executive branch.
The opinion should be made public “because of the public interest in this matter,” she wrote.
The phone program was developed under a provision of the Patriot Act that allows the NSA, through the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to collect business records “relevant to an authorized investigation.” The NSA determined that nearly all U.S. phone-call records were “relevant” to terrorism investigations because it needed all the calls in order to determine with whom suspects were communicating.
The records, called “metadata,” include phone numbers people dialed and where they were calling from. The content of the calls isn’t obtained under this program.
In June, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked one of the secret court orders demanding records form Verizon Communications Inc. Former officials say similar orders have been issued to AT&T Inc. and Sprint Corp. A spokesmnn for AT&T didn’t respond to a request for comment Tuesday, and Sprint and Verizon declined to comment.
Judge Eagan has served as a federal trial judge in Oklahoma since 2001 after being nominated by President George W. Bush. She is a newcomer to the surveillance court, joining it when Chief Justice John Roberts appointed her in February.
A spokesman for the surveillance court, Sheldon Snook, declined to comment.
A Justice Department official confirmed the validity of the judge’s statement that no telecom company has challenged the legality of an order for records.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Tuesday that the opinion underscored that the program is indeed legal. “The opinion affirms that the bulk telephony metadata collection is both lawful and constitutional,” he said in a statement. “The release of this opinion is consistent with the president’s call for more transparency on these valuable intelligence programs.”
But civil libertarians said the opinion showed the court is too deferential to the government. “The opinion only confirms the folly of entrusting Americans’ privacy rights to a court that meets in secret and hears argument only from the government,” said American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer.
The order finds that the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure don’t apply to business records, such as phone-call logs. According to a 1979 Supreme Court decision in Smith v. Maryland, which has set a precedent for more than 30 years, there is no expectation of privacy with regard to phone records.
The order also explains the legal reasoning that finds virtually all American phone records to be relevant to the NSA’s hunt for terrorists. It says these data meet “the standard for relevant” because “it is necessary to obtain the bulk collection of a telephone company’s metadata to determine those connections between known and unknown international terrorist operatives.”
By Cody Salfen. Cody Salfen is a California licensed private investigator and currently owns an operates Cody S Investigations (www.CodySInvestigations.com) – A California Private Investigation and Private Detective Agency.
Cody S Investigations provides mobile phone forensic investigation services for attorneys, law firms, businesses and individuals throughout California. This includes cell phone forensic investigations, cell phone data forensic investigations for criminal defense cases, mobile data forensic expert witness services, and more.
Visit the official Cody S Investigations website at www.CodySInvestigations.com or www.CodyPI.com. Alternatively, to speak with a member of the Cody S Investigations private investigation staff, you can call the Cody S Investigations San Francisco private detective staff at 415.932.9278 or 408.313.0109. Cody S Investigations provides a wide array of private investigation services in San Francisco, the surrounding areas, and investigative services throughout the State of California. Cody Salfen is a member of the California Association of Licensed Investigators, the Professional Investigators Association of California, the California Defense Investigators Association, the National Council of Investigation and Security Services, and the World Association of Detectives. In addition, Cody founded and operates Cody S & Associates, Inc. (www.CSI-Legal-Services.com) a security training, firearms training, security consulting, and CA Dept. of Justice and FBI approved Live Scan Fingerprinting Services.
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