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U.S. Supreme Court shuts down one EFF warrantless spying case against NSA

After six years of traveling through the courts of America, the warrantless spying case filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) against the National Security Agency (NSA), which attempted to hold telecommunications companies liable for allowing government evesdropping on U.S. residents, was terminated by the U.S. Supreme Court today! I was affected personally by the situation when I was assigned to inventory any equipment of Sun Microsystems that might be located in “that (SBC->AT&T) room on Folsom Street” and received the royal runaround. The Supreme Court declined to review a lower court ruling on the case, which closes the door on further appeals. The Supreme Court decision did not address the merits of the case.

So much for my faith in the Judicial Branch…. 😉 According to CNET News:

Hepting v. AT&T was a class-action suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and EFF in 2006. It claimed that AT&T was letting the government wiretap resident’s phone calls and spy on emails without necessary warrants or notifications.

“We’re disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision not to review Hepting v. AT&T since it lets the telecommunications companies off the hook for betraying their customers’ trust and handing their communications and communications records to the NSA without a warrant,” EFF’s Legal Director Cindy Cohn said in an email statement.

The New York Times announced in late 2005 that the President of the United States (George W. Bush) had authorized the NSA to conduct wiretaps, allegedly involving the conversations and Internet communications of Americans, without a court order. Ultimately, the news led to proposed changes to a 1978 law known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

FISA required investigators to obtain a warrant from a secret court before conducting wiretapping on international communications when at least one end is located in the United States. The NSA’s terrorist surveillance program, confirmed by President George W. Bush after the New York Times report, did not receive the FISA court’s approval prior to its start. However, in 2008 Congress passed a retroactive immunity law for telecom companies that cooperated with the government during that time called the FISA Amendment Act.

Meanwhile, EFF is working on a similar case that targets federal agencies and government officials who were involved in warrantless wiretapping.

“We continue to try to stop the spying in our suit against the NSA itself, called Jewel v. NSA, which is set for a hearing in mid-December,” Cohn said in the statement. “The government still claims that this massive program of surveillance of Americans is a state secret, but after eleven years and multiple Congressional reports, public admissions and media coverage, the only place that this program hasn’t been seriously considered is in the courts — to determine whether it’s legal or constitutional. We look forward to rectifying that.”

-Bill at

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