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NSA surveillance challenged in US district court and on the streets in SF
Bay Area civil liberties activists rallied outside the Phil Burton Federal Building and US Courthouse in San Francisco on September 27 to support the leading legal challenge to warrantless NSA surveillance, Jewel vs. NSA. In the hearing, the judge ordered the government to unseal additional documents concerning warrantless NSA spying programs by December 20, 2013.
Bay Area activists rallied outside the federal building at 450 Golden Gate in San Francisco on September 27 to support the leading legal challenge to warrantless NSA surveillance. Jewel v. NSA, and other related cases filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have been moving since the days of the Bush administration towards having government spying ruled unconstitutional. Now, a clear path to that goal might finally be taking shape. Art Persyko, an organizer of the rally with the San Francisco 99% Coalition Civil Liberties Committee said: "Ever since 911, we've had this fear-based deterioration of our civil liberties and that's why the SF 99% Coalition is focusing on this. I think that should be of concern not just to activists but to everybody. Because... as with Cointelpro, they monitor people, they undermine people, they kill people, and you think it's the other guy, and they come for you."
Federal District Judge Jeffrey White has ordered the government to unseal documents concerning the NSA spying programs by December 20, 2013. In the wake of numerous documents being unclassified through both official and unofficial sources, the court is requiring that the government unseal any declassified material, like exhibits, declarations, and other submissions that the government had previously submitted under seal. The plaintiffs will have the benefit of this corrected record, including previously classified materials, to demonstrate legal standing to bring their suit.
Members of the San Francisco 99% Coalition, Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, Restore the Fourth, Occupy SF and other organizations were on hand to witness the hearing in addition to protesting outside the courthouse. "The president has acknowledged that NSA spying should be a topic of vigorous public debate within the context of our traditional respect for the rule of law," said local attorney and 99% Coalition member Joe Nicholson. "The courthouse is the perfect place to do that, so it's important that the public know this case is going on, that the parties understand that the world is watching. And it's important that we all support organizations like the EFF that bring these actions on our behalf."
The court also set a briefing schedule on three procedural issues that it wants resolved before turning to the critical question—whether the spying program is legal and constitutional. Resolution of these threshold issues, at least at the district court level, should happen by next spring. For more detail, see a blog post by Alice Townes of Restore the Fourth SF: http://restorethefourthsf.com/jewel-v-nsa-case-management-hearing/.