Friday, December 27, 2013

Whew! That Was a Close One!

A judge says whatever the NSA is doing is just peachy, constitutionally speaking:

A federal judge in New York has ruled that the National Security Agency's mass collection of phone data is constitutional, rejecting a challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley's decision came just 11 days after a district judge in Washington ruled the opposite – that the agency's "almost Orwellian" surveillance program is likely unconstitutional. The ruling raises the likelihood that the issue will be settled by the Supreme Court.
In his 54-page decision, Pauley said there is no evidence that the government has used any of the data collected for purposes other than "investigating and disrupting" terror attacks.
None of this matters at all, in any practical sense.  If a whole army of federal judges -- and I'm sure there are enough of them to constitute at least a modest army -- were to declare the NSA constitutionally impermissible and order its activities to cease and desist, does anyone imagine that they'd go out of business?  Didn't think so.  Probably the only thing that would happen is that all of the judges' extramarital romances, porn-surfing habits, and other such peccadilloes would "leak."  In any case, it would be made abundantly clear that judges actually command no more divisions than does the Pope (thanks, Josef Stalin).

It's worth noticing, though, for purposes of sour amusement.  Ah, our Glorious Constitution!  Amendment 4 suggests that, absent probable cause "supported by oath or affirmation," and warrants "particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized," we're all secure against searches and seizures.  I say it suggests this because it certainly appears to be no more than a suggestion at best, and really, more like a bad joke.  In practice, it might as well say that nothing shall be searched or seized unless someone receiving a government paycheck feels like searching or seizing it, in which case, it's theirs.

And the judges!  One says the NSA crap is "almost Orwellian" and "likely unconstitutional."  Hmmmmm.  Can we conclude that it would become certainly unconstitutional if and only if it becomes fully Orwellian?  Doubleplus ungood, man.  Then there's the other judge.  Since the government is doing things for purposes he likes, obviously what they're doing is constitutional.  "Constitutional" means "having a purpose that a judge approves of."

Finally, don't forget: it doesn't matter what any judge thinks or writes.  The government has the guns.  It's going to do whatever it wants.

Get used to it.

But that's just the problem.  We are used to it.  And getting more used to it by the day.

1 comment:

Mimi said...

Perfect truth, served up by a Midwestern truth-teller who can handle the truth.
But doesn't like it and neither do I.
Happy New Year, Jim.