“I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”
– U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, in ruling Monday that the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ telephone phone records is likely unconstitutional. In a blistering ruling, Leon took the NSA to task for a program that had apparently not stopped any terrorist attacks. “I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism,” Leon said. “The almost-Orwellian technology that enables the government to store and analyze the phone metadata of every telephone user in the United States is unlike anything that could have been conceived of.” The ruling was hailed by Edward Snowden, the fugitive former defense contractor whose leaks over the summer disclosed the program’s details. “Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many,” Snowden said in a statement. Monday’s ruling will be stayed in expectation of a government appeal, which is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court. The surveillance program is expected to be a topic of discussion this morning as top tech leaders meet with President Obama.
At top, the NSA campus in Fort Meade, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)