NSA program can continue, but Congress has already outlawed the program, effective in November.
DC’s Appeals Court overturned a lower court’s injunction against the National Security Agency’s policy of collecting domestic telephone records, enabling the spy agency to continue its controversial program for the time being.
The three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals in Washington, voted 2-1 on undoing the ruling of the federal district judge who issued the injunction in December 2013. Prior to the ruling, the NSA had been collecting information on billions of calls made and received by Americans since the Attacks on September 11. Congress passed a law in June ending the practice, but delayed implementation of the law until November while the Obama Administration tries to create a newer, less controversial, system of collecting records on potential terrorist activities.
The three judges wrote different opinions in their overturning the ruling issued by Judge Richard Leon in Washington, but did not kill the lawsuit, though the judges expressed doubt on the case’s success.
This case, brought upon by Larry Klayman, is one of a number of cases surrounding the highly-controversial surveillance program. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, while not ruling the program unconstitutional, did say the program was not legal under the PATRIOT Act provisions.
Judge Janice Rogers Brown, in deciding this case, said the plaintiffs did meet the threshold required to allow the case to continue for now, a decision supported by her colleague Judge Stephen Williams. Judge David Sentelle said the plaintiffs fell short of that threshold. Lawyers have stated they anticipate the Supreme Court to be the final arbiter of the surveillance program, though Congress’ actions could curtail that from happening anytime soon.
Klayman, in response to the decision Friday, complained about the length of time it took the judges to rule on the appeal filed in January 2014.
“I’m confident we’ll prevail in the end,” Klayman told Politico. “What’s happening in the interim is an outrage. If they were going to come up with this kind of approach they could have done it nearly two years ago. They sat on this thing for two years while the rights of Americans continued to be violated. This is simply a dodge.”
The decision from the court was based on the loose connection Klayman had with the program as a customer of Verizon Wireless, not the corporate entity Verizon Business Network Services. The latter subsidiary was the program pegged by the exiled Edward Snowden as releasing records to the NSA through a government-ordered program.