The December ruling that the NSA telephone surveillance program was unconstitutional looks to be in serious jeopardy, as the US Appellate Court challenge to the ruling has drawn a three-judge panel that seems extremely hostile to the idea of limiting federal surveillance powers.
Opening oral arguments saw attorney Larry Klayman warning that “if King George had the same powers as the NSA, our founding fathers would have never gotten to Philadelphia,” and cautioning that leaving the NSA unchecked risked a full-scale revolt.
The randomly selected judges, three of the most conservative out there, didn’t seem sympathetic and one:, Judge Stephen Williams, likened the surveillance of all Americans’ telephone calls to the drunk driving checkpoints, which have been established by the courts as acceptable.
Judge David Sentelle also seemed very hostile to the anti-NSA arguments, insisting that the widespread use of surveillance didn’t make it worse, and that “a million times nothing is still nothing.”
The Justice Department is not only defending the surveillance, but rejecting the idea that challenges to unreasonable search are even theoretically possible, insisting there’s no searching going on at all because the data is coming from phone companies, not individuals.