Within the same week, a federal court has found that the government’s broad collection of telephony data on all telephone calls is unconstitutional days before the White House task force on NSA reform issued a report called “Liberty and Security in a Changing World” that called for terminating the telephone program.
The Commission, led by Richard Clarke, concluded:
In our view, the current storage by the government of bulk meta-data creates potential risks to public trust, personal privacy, and civil liberty.
In Klayman v Obama, a D.C. federal court explained
This case is yet the latest chapter in the Judiciary’s continuing challenge to balance the national security interests of the United States with the individual liberties of our citizens. The Government, in its understandable zeal to protect our homeland, has crafted a counterterrorism program with respect to telephone metadata that strikes the balance based in large part on a thirty-four year old Supreme Court precedent, the relevance of which has been eclipsed by technological advances and a cell phone-centric lifestyle heretofore inconceivable. In the months ahead, other Article III courts, no doubt, will wrestle to find the proper balance consistent with our constitutional system. But in the meantime, for all the above reasons, I will grant Larry Klayman’s and Charles Strange’s request for an injunction and enter an order that (1) bars the Government from collecting, as part of the NSA’s Bulk Telephony Metadata Program, any telephony metadata associated with their personal Verizon accounts and (2) requires the Government to destroy any such metadata in its possession that was collected through the bulk collection program.
Part of the reason for the ruling was that
The government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped in imminent attack, or otherwise aided the government in achieving any objective that was time sensitive in nature. In fact, none of the three “recent episodes” cited by the government that supposedly “illustrate the role that telephony metadata analysis can play” in preventing and protecting against terrorist attacks “involve any apparent urgency.
The executive summary and recommendations of the commission (along with appendices that provide a useful summary of the issue) and the court’s opinion are below.