Responsible for helping cover up the CIA’s torture program, the same judge dismissed a lawsuit on Friday filed by the ACLU, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Wikipedia, and other organizations accusing the NSA of conducting mass surveillance. Although it is now common knowledge that the NSA can retroactively access phone records, text messages, emails, internet activity, GPS locations, and metadata, the judge dismissed the suit because the NSA refuses to admit that they are incessantly violating our constitutional rights.
“The NSA’s mass surveillance violates our clients’ constitutional rights to privacy, freedom of speech, and freedom of association, and it poses a grave threat to a free internet and a free society,” asserted Ashley Gorski, a staff attorney with the ACLU national security project. “The private communications of innocent people don’t belong in government hands.”
According to the lawsuit, the NSA secretly violated the First and Fourth Amendments by creating a program called Upstream, which intercepts both foreign and domestic telephone and internet traffic along major internet cables. Although whistleblower Edward Snowden publicly disclosed the existence of the program in 2013 and the government has acknowledged its existence, Judge Thomas Selby “T.S.” Ellis III dismissed the suit because he admittedly did not have enough information to confirm their allegations.
“The decision turns a blind eye to the fact that the government is tapping into the Internet’s backbone to spy on millions of Americans,” ACLU lawyer Patrick Toomey said in a statement. “The dismissal of the lawsuit’s claims as ‘speculative’ is at odds with an overwhelming public record of warrantless surveillance.”
By playing the national security card, the NSA proved once again that it is currently immune to public scrutiny and accountability. If the ruling stands, the ACLU believes it will be impossible to challenge the NSA in civil court. Although Judge T.S. Ellis III said the suit relied on “the subjective fear of surveillance,” the ACLU plans to file an appeal.
Ellis proved his loyalty to the State when he dismissed a suit in 2006 against the CIA for torturing an innocent man. In a case of mistaken identity, German citizen Khalid El-Masri was abducted by the Macedonian police and handed over to the CIA. After months of beatings and forced rectal suppositories, El-Masri was released without charges.
Instead of dismissing the case on merit, Ellis dismissed the suit on the grounds that a trial would risk national security. Caught torturing innocent people and spying on U.S. citizens, the CIA and NSA have caused more damage to national security than any lawsuit ever could. Willing to sacrifice justice in the name of state-sponsored torture and mass surveillance programs, Ellis represents a judicial system that no longer participates in the political pastime of checks and balances.
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