August 21, 2013

Wyden Statement on Declassification of FISA Court Ruling on 4th Amendment Violations

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued the following statement regarding the declassification of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruling stating that the NSA’s collection procedures had violated the 4th Amendment to the Constitution and the spirit of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
“While the declassification of the FISA court’s ruling on the constitutionality of Section 702 collection procedures is an important addition to the public discussion being held on government surveillance authorities, its declassification is long overdue.  And while the NSA eventually made changes to its minimization procedures in response to this ruling, the very collection it describes was a serious violation of the 4th Amendment and demonstrates even more clearly the need to close the back-door searches loophole that allows for the communications of Americans to be searched without a warrant if they are swept up under procedures that were intended to target foreigners.
Moreover, the ruling states that the NSA has knowingly acquired tens of thousands of wholly domestic communications under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, even though this law was specifically written to prohibit the warrantless acquisition of wholly domestic communications.  The FISA Court has noted that this collection violates the spirit of the law, but the government has failed to address this concern in the two years since this ruling was issued.  This ruling makes it clear that FISA Section 702, as written, is insufficient to adequately protect the civil liberties and privacy rights of law-abiding Americans and should be reformed.”

In a 2011 response to Wyden, the ODNI agreed to declassify statements regarding FISC rulings that found that the 4th amendment and the spirit of the law had been violated.