The National Security Agency was forced to de-classify a document, the contents of which make it easy to see why the snoops wanted it kept secret.
In an 85-page ruling handed down by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (commonly known as the FISA court) judge John D. Bates, the NSA was called out “for repeatedly misleading the court that oversees its surveillance on domestic soil, including a program that is collecting tens of thousands of domestic e-mails and other Internet communications of Americans each year,” the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Bates found that the NSA routinely misled the court as to the scope of its domestic surveillance activities.
“The court is troubled that the government’s revelations regarding N.S.A.’s acquisition of Internet transactions mark the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program,” former FISA court chief judge Bates wrote in his ruling.
Most of the secret NSA programs recently brought to light by the Edward Snowden leaks are mentioned by Bates as being evidence of the NSA’s blatant disregard for the Constitution and for legal limits on its surveillance authority.
“Contrary to the government’s repeated assurances, N.S.A. had been routinely running queries of the metadata using querying terms that did not meet the standard for querying,” Judge Bates recounted. He cited a 2009 ruling that concluded that the requirement had been “so frequently and systematically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall ... regime has never functioned effectively.”
In a statement, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a familiar foe of government abrogation of the Fourth Amendment, said it was about time Bates’ ruling was released by the government.
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