Alito Goes to Bat for the NSA

The Executive Branch just got more freedom to spy on us after the Supreme Court threw out a challenge Tuesday to the FISA amendments.

Under those amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the government can spy on our phone calls, e-mails, messages and Skyping whenever we’re overseas or talking to someone overseas.

The government doesn’t need to get a warrant to do this, and it doesn’t ever need to tell us that it’s been targeting us.

It’s an obvious affront to the Fourth Amendment, but not according to Samuel Alito and the four other conservative justices on the Court.

They ruled, in a classic Catch-22, that since the lawyers and journalists who were suing the government couldn’t prove that they were being spied on, they didn’t have standing to bring their case.

Of course, they couldn’t prove it because the government, by law now, doesn’t have to reveal who it’s spying on.

As a result, it’s going to be all but impossible to ever challenge this law in court.

"It's a disturbing decision,” said ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, who argued the case before the justices on October 29. “The FISA Amendments Act is a sweeping surveillance statute with far-reaching implications for Americans' privacy. This ruling insulates the statute from meaningful judicial review and leaves Americans' privacy rights to the mercy of the political branches."

So now the CIA and the NSA and the President can merrily spy on us without fear that a court is going to tell them to stop.

And since Congress has refused to stop them, we, as so-called American citizens, have seen our rights shredded once again.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "The Supreme Court’s Push to Lift Campaign Limits."

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