On June 29, a secret court ruled that a federal court and Congress were wrong to end the NSA’s bulk collection of phone metadata; therefore, the mass surveillance can carry on as before — for now.
National Journal reports: “The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [FISC] approved a government request to renew the dragnet collection of U.S. phone metadata for an additional five months—a timeframe allowed under the Freedom Act, a newly enacted surveillance reform law that calls for an eventual end to the mass spying program exposed by Edward Snowden two years ago.”
Although its use has been perfected by the current occupant of the Oval Office, the so-called FISA Court (officially the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) began to be used as a tool for rubber-stamping unwarranted surveillance in the Bush administration.
The FISA Amendments Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush on July 10, 2008 after being overwhelmingly passed 293 to 129 in the House and 69-28 in the Senate. Just a couple of days prior to FISA being enacted, then-Representative Ron Paul led a coalition of Internet activists united to create the political action committee Accountability Now. The sole purpose of the PAC was to conduct a money bomb in order to raise money to purchase ad buys to alert voters to the names of those congressmen (Republican and Democratic) who voted in favor of the act.
The FISC is more powerful and autonomous than even Ron Paul likely imagined.
In his opinion, FISC judge Michael W. Mosman ruled, “Second Circuit rulings are not binding on the F.I.S.C. and this court respectfully disagrees with that court’s analysis, especially in view of the intervening enactment of the U.S.A. Freedom Act.”
That’s right. The court, established specifically to judge the merits of applications by the government to spy on citizens, gave a green light to the NSA to keep spying on Americans, ignoring completely the will of the people, their representatives in Congress, and the plain language of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.