Fight heats up as program winds down
general, said in an emergency request. “That is so because the technical steps required in order to prevent the further collection of and to segregate the metadata associated with particular persons’ calls would take the NSA months to complete.”
The fierce fight comes even though the NSA program has only a few more weeks left anyway.
Congress earlier this year passed the USA Freedom Act, setting a Nov. 29 deadline for the government to end its bulk collection under the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
That makes the administration’s stance all the more striking: It is feverishly battling to keep afloat for just three weeks a program that President Obama himself has said is not necessary and that the NSA is already working to wind down.
Judge Leon, meanwhile, said that even with that end-of-month deadline looming, he felt compelled to defend Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights from government overreach.
“It makes no difference that this violation now has a foreseeable end,” he wrote in the 43-page opinion, adding that he wouldn’t allow the government to run out the clock or shroud itself in secrecy to try to justify an infringement of Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights. “This Court simply cannot, and will not, allow the Government to trump the Constitution merely because it suits the exigencies of the moment.”
In his ruling he ordered the agency to stop collecting records of lawyer Jeffrey James Little and his California law firm, J.J. Little and Associates, and to segregate their existing records from the rest of the massive database the NSA has built up over the years of Americans’ phone call metadata.
The ruling was the latest twist in a case brought by Larry Klayman, a conservative lawyer who is trying to halt the phonesnooping program and seeking $20 million in damages from the government.
Judge Leon first ruled in December 2013 that the NSA program was likely unconstitutional, but he stayed his own