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US Supreme Court refuses to let Americans challenge FISA eavesdropping law
Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO) sent a letter to the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community asking, “how many people inside the United States have had their communications collected or reviewed under the authorities granted by section 702” of the FISA Amendment Act (FAA). The NSA responded by rejecting the lawmakers’ request, and said a “review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of US persons.”
“All that Senator Udall and I are asking for is a ballpark estimate of how many Americans have been monitored under this law, and it is disappointing that the Inspectors General cannot provide it,” Sen. Wyden told Wired’s Danger Room at the time.
“If no one will even estimate how many Americans have had their communications collected under this law then it is all the more important that Congress act to close the ‘back door searches’ loophole, to keep the government from searching for Americans’ phone calls and emails without a warrant.”
In the court’s majority opinion, five justices even added that the government’s ability to wiretap Americans doesn’t begin and end with FISA, either.
"The Government has numerous other methods of conducting surveillance, none of which is challenged here,” they ruled. “Because respondents do not face a threat of certainly impending interception” under FISA, “the costs that they have incurred to avoid surveillance are simply the product of their fear of surveillance,” the court told the plaintiffs.