The Independent newspaper reports that the warrantless NSA surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden are facing a constitutional challenge in court for the first time:
Lawyers for Mohamed Mohamud have argued that surveillance evidence used to convict the Somali-American man, found guilty of plotting to bomb a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, was gathered in a manner that was unconstitutional. The lawyers laid out their arguments on Wednesday before a panel of judges of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, close to the plaza where Mohamud tried detonating a fake bomb that was part of an undercover operation…
Stephen Sady, Mohamud’s lawyer, urged the court to grant his client a new trial on the grounds that the evidence used against Mohamud should never have been permitted in the courtroom. Mr Sady told the judges that using surveillance information on foreigners, which does not require a warrant, to spy on any Americans they communicate with was “an incredible diminution of the privacy rights of all Americansâ¦ That is a step that should never be taken.”
Last year saw
a record number of wiretaps authorized by state and federal judges — 4,148, more than twice as many as the 1,773 that took place in 2005 — and not a single request was rejected. (More than 95% were for cellphones, and 81% for narcotics investigations.) But The Independent notes that U.S. law enforcement officials have admitted they also “incidentally” collect information about Americans without a warrant, and then sometimes later use that information in criminal investigations.
In Mohamud’s case, which dates back to 2010, “There’s no doubt he tried to explode a car bomb in America,” writes Slashdot reader Bruce66423, arguing that this case “elegantly demonstrates the issue of how far legal rights should overwhelm common sense.”
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