Friday, May 8, 2015

Watching The Watchmen

A three-judge federal appeals court panel has found that the USA PATRIOT Act does not in fact authorize widespread metadata surveillance programs and that these programs are illegal, but the panel stopped short of issuing an injunction stopping the surveillance.

In a 97-page ruling, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a provision of the USA Patriot Act known as Section 215 cannot be legitimately interpreted to allow the bulk collection of domestic calling records. 
The ruling was certain to increase the tension that has been building in Congress as the provision of the act that has been cited to justify the bulk data collection program nears expiration. It will expire in June unless lawmakers pass a bill to extend it. 
Thursday’s ruling did not come with any injunction ordering the program to cease, and it is not clear that anything else will happen in the judicial system before Congress has to make a decision about the expiring law. 
It is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the program.

The conventional wisdom is that this puts significant pressure on Congress to reform or stop altogether these metadata surveillance programs.

I'm here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

Congress will do nothing.

The case will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court, and it will find in favor of the US government.

The programs will continue.

President Obama will be blamed, of course, but it's the legislative and judicial branches that will refuse to stop bulk collection of metadata.  Please keep that in mind.


Horace Boothroyd III said...

Please keep that in mind.

Once again, you nailed it perfectly.

Nothing will be done because there is no effective political pressure on the legislative branch, yet the executive branch will take the blame because the President stubbornly refuses to wave his wand of magical executive omnipotence and make everything all better.

And a reason, but not the only reason, there is no effective political pressure in this arena is that those who pretend mostly loudly to care most deeply are in fact more interested in purity hunts within their own ranks to winkle out potential wrongthinkers than they are interested in building broad and effective coalitions to support those politicians who would be willing to take the lead if they could see any kind of support on the horizon. No sense sticking your dick in the blender if nobody has your back.

While in Kossackistan the pies fly thick and fast over the world historical question of Sanderistas: United Voice of All Good Liberals -or- just another gang with a big mouth and a bad attitude. Which is a shame as I like the good Senator, but win or lose or gaping hole from asteroid strike he will get little effective support from Pennywise and his gang of merry clowns as they could not organise the mustard bin at a hot dog stand.

Yastreblyansky said...

I'm not convinced this one is going to go wrong; section 215 is really going to expire on June, and there's that pretty good Sensenbrenner-Leahy bill just sitting there with support from ACLU and Obama both and a majority of votes too, if it could get to the Senate floor. The solution is just too easy for Congress to pass up.

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