In time, "privacy" will probably have to be licensed, bonded, and applied for.
Using government resources to spy on civilians became recognized as more than just a hateful practice once the Republican presidential scandal over "Watergate" had unraveled. It became a defining element of the reason doing so became a punishable offense.
The Foreign Surveillance Act made law that American civilians would never be the target of surveillance... if their speech or ideas were recorded inadvertently, in connection with surveillance of a legitimate target... any and all intelligence that identifies the American citizen would be removed and destroyed immediately upon detection. Exceptions could only be granted by direct authorization from the Attorney general of the United States. This was the legacy of the Executive Order of then President Jimmy Carter.
Enter 9/11 - making it unwise to restrict that intelligence gathering potential? Not exactly.
The laws were weakened by Executive Order even before the first Iraq-US confrontation in Kuwait. After 9/11 the former restrictions effectively became encouragements to seek the terror bogeyman wherever it might be imagined, inferred, or implied.
“This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs’ ongoing attempts to hold the executive branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization,” a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote.
The Defendants exonerated from liability here were not people, but organizations... FBI, NSA, The Department of Treasury... etc.
The case concerned a lower court decision in which two American attorneys — who were working with the now-defunct al-Haramain Islamic Foundation — were awarded more than $20,000 each in damages and their lawyers $2.5 million in legal fees after a tortured legal battle where they proved they were spied on without warrants.
“This case was the only chance to litigate and hold anybody accountable for the warrantless wiretapping program,” he said in a telephone interview. “As illegal as it was, it evaded accountability.”
They may appeal.
The San Francisco-based appeals court ruled that when Congress wrote the law regulating eavesdropping on Americans and spies, it never waived sovereign immunity in the section prohibiting targeting Americans without warrants. That means Congress did not allow for aggrieved Americans to sue the government, even if their constitutional rights were violated by the United States breaching its own wiretapping laws.
No redress.... thank you Congress... "our" supposed representatives in government.
We discovered that the warrentless wiretapping was happening in 2005... how? Because some documents were mailed to the attorneys involved in this suit... they proved that the NSA was intercepting their calls... and with the help of AT&T no less.....
The document was later declared a state secret, removed from the long-running lawsuit and has never been made public.
The sordid history of the eavesdropping, the retroactive immunity Congress granted the telecommunications companies, and the complete absence of accountability paint an ugly picture of the American way of life.... but since those in office and their friends aren't subject to it.... I bet they would prefer if we just went about our lives and not expect 'privacy'... nor have the collective voice and will to demand it.
EDIT TO ADD: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
(visit the link for the full news article)
edit on 8-8-2012 by Maxmars because: (no reason given)