“There are exigent circumstances here,” Klayman said. “We can’t allow this situation to continue. The NSA’s continuing to spy on everybody.”
Turner said U.S. intelligence agencies would be willing to modify the phone records surveillance program to provide additional privacy and civil liberties protections as long as it was still operationally beneficial. He said the Obama administration was carefully evaluating the advisory panel’s recent recommendations.
Judges sitting on the secretive spy court have repeatedly approved the program for 90-day periods. They also have repeatedly upheld the constitutionality of the program — a judicial bulwark that held strong until Leon’s surprise decision last month.
Leon said the NSA’s program was “almost Orwellian,” a reference to writer George Orwell’s futuristic novel “1984,” and that there was little evidence the operation had prevented terrorist attacks. He ruled against the government but agreed to postpone shutting down the program until the government could appeal.
In a separate case involving the same NSA phone records program, a district judge in New York last month upheld the government’s data collection as lawful. The American Civil Liberties Union, which lost that case, said this week it will appeal to a federal appeals court in New York.
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