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DoJ Asks Surveillance Court To Ignore Federal Court’s Ruling On Illegal NSA Spying

Following the expiration of the Patriot Act provisions that were used to justify the NSA's bulk data collection, the Department of Justice submitted a request to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, asking the Court to reinstate the NSA's collection for the next six months, and to ignore the ruling from the Federal Appeal's Court, which stated that NSA spying is illegal.

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Hours after President Obama signed the USA Freedom Act, which would continue the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program, while transferring its bulk data collection to private phone companies, the Department of Justice filed a request asking a FISA court to continue the NSA’s collection for six months.

The request, which was filed with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on June 2, asked the Court to “approve the Government’s application for the bulk production of call detail records for a 180 day transition period,” claiming that this request is appropriate, despite the fact that on May 7, a federal appeals court ruled that NSA spying is illegal.

In the request, which was written by Justice Department national security chief John Carlin, the USA Freedom Act’s six-month “orderly transition” clause is referenced, but Carlin does not address whether the clause still applies now that the program was supposed to have shut down completely at midnight on May 31.

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The NSA’s mass surveillance program, which was allowed under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, became illegal at 12:01 a.m. on June 1, when the section expired. GOP Presidential candidate and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) led the campaign to block a direct extension of Section 215, and took to the floor of the Senate for 10 hours and 30 minutes to speak out against NSA spying.

The Guardian noted that Carlin also suggests that the Obama Administration “may not necessarily comply with any potential court order demanding that the collection stop,” and might “seek to challenge the injunction.”

“In the event an injunction of some sort were to issue by the district court,the Government would need to assess, in light of the nature and scope of whatever injunction the district court issued, its ability to carry out authority granted under an order issued by this Court,” Carlin wrote.

A report from the Washington Post in Jan. 2014  found that after analyzing 225 terrorism cases inside the United States, the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records “has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.” 

In the request, Carlin claimed that although the DoJ has considered the Federal court’s ruling on NSA spying in its evaluation of the government’s application, “Second Circuit rulings do not constitute controlling precedent for this Court,” and they are requesting that the NSA’s bulk data collection program continue, even though the majority of the data collected “ultimately will not be terrorist-related.”

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