Foolish Judge Ignores Advice of Senators, Says NSA Metadata Collection Is Illegal

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 16 2013 3:03 PM

Foolish Judge Ignores Advice of Senators, Says NSA Metadata Collection Is Illegal

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Who needs judges when you've got Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss?

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Conservative legal activist Larry Klayman sued to stop the NSA from collecting his metadata, and in district court he's sort of just won the case. Judge Richard Leon, who rules against the program while staying his own injuction (national security reasons, and all that), explains:

I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval.
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Yes, but for months now, members of the House and Senate intel committees have been saying otherwise. Just for starters, soon to be updated:

This is nothing particularly new. This has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) authority and every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this.

- Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, June 6.

These programs, that are authorized by the court by the way, only focused on non-United States persons overseas, that gets lost in this debate, are pieces of the puzzle. And you have to have all of the pieces of the puzzle to try to put it together.

- Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, June 9.

These programs are legal, transparent and contain the appropriate checks and balances among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government.

- New York Rep. Peter King, Aug. 9.

The NSA call-records program is legal and subject to extensive congressional and judicial oversight. 

- California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Oct. 20.

With all the criticism leveled at these programs, it is important that we first not forget that these men and women are doing what we have told them to do, within the confines of the laws we’ve passed, and doing so to keep us safe.

- Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, Oct. 30.

Thanks to Emma Roller for collecting a bunch of these.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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