According to a court order labeled “TOP SECRET,” federal judge Roger Vinson ordered Verizon to turn over the phone records of millions of its U.S. customers to the National Security Agency (NSA).
The order, issued in April by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and leaked on the Internet by the Guardian (U.K.), compels Verizon to provide these records on an “ongoing daily basis” to hand over to the domestic spy agency “an electronic copy” of “all call detail records created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”
This information includes the phone numbers involved, the electronic identity of the device, the calling card numbers (if any) used in making the calls, and the time and duration of the call.
In other words, if you are a Verizon customer, your detailed phone records secretly have been handed over — and will continue to be handed over — to NSA agents.
This wholesale dragnet of personal electronic communication data proves beyond dispute that the Obama administration is keeping millions of Americans under constant surveillance regardless of whether the targets are suspected of committing crimes.
In other words, millions of innocent Americans have had their call records shared with a federal spy agency in open and hostile defiance of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
What is reasonable? While in the law, “the term reasonable is a generic and relative one and applies to that which is appropriate for a particular situation,” consider the following explanation of the use of the term in the constitutional context. St. George Tucker, a Founding Generation jurist, wrote:
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