(Washington, DC) – US District Court Judge Richard Leon has declared that the bulk phone record collection activities of the National Security Agency (NSA) are likely in violation of the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable search. The very first of its kind, the 68-page legal opinion is highly critical of the constitutionality, and even the effectiveness, of the NSA’s bulk data collection program.
This ruling significantly bolsters the claim of whistleblower status by federal contractor Edward Snowden, who disclosed NSA mass surveillance programs after he perceived these programs to be in violation of the Constitution’s fourth amendment and was, consequently, charged with two counts of espionage in a criminal complaint in mid-June.
“There can be no doubt Edward Snowden is a whistleblower,” commented Government Accountability Project (GAP) Executive Director Beatrice Edwards. “Despite highly disingenuous claims to the contrary, whistleblowers in the intelligence community have no protections whatsoever. There are no safe internal channels for someone like Mr. Snowden who seeks to disclose illegality.”
Judge Leon’s highly critical opinion goes even further by concluding the government didn’t cite a single instance in which the program actually stopped an imminent terrorist attack. “I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism.”
In a statement provided to reporter Glenn Greenwald, Snowden reacted to this latest ruling:
I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.
The Government Accountability Project champions government and corporate accountability and transparency by defending whistleblowers and advancing occupational free speech. Since its founding in 1977, GAP has helped in the effective exercise of conscience of over 5,000 whistleblowers.
Contact: Douglas Kim, GAP External Relations Officer
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Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.