On September 2, 2020, an appeals court ruled that a mass surveillance program, which former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden exposed seven years ago, is unconstitutional.
In the U.S. court of appeals for the ninth circuit’s ruling, it declared that the mass surveillance of America’s phone calls violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Snowden sought asylum in Russia following the leaks he made in 2013 and is still within the U.S. government’s crosshairs, as he faces espionage charges. On Twitter, Snowden declared that the ruling vindicated his move to go public about the NSA’s mass spying program.
“I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA’s activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them,” Snowden Tweeted.
Seven years ago, as the news declared I was being charged as a criminal for speaking the truth, I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA's activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them.
And yet that day has arrived. https://t.co/FRdG2zUA4U
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 2, 2020
The most notable of Snowden’s findings was the evidence pointing to the NSA secretly compiling a large database of U.S. phone calls, which the Guardian published in 2013.
Before those leaks went out, intelligence officials attempted to re-assure the public that the NSA never intentionally collected Americans’ personal information. Once Snowden exposed the surveillance program, intelligence big wigs argued that the spying played a significant role in combatting domestic extremism. They alluded to the case of four San Diego residents who were providing aid to Islamic radicals in Somalia.
Intelligence officials argued that the four individuals in question – Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, Mohamed Mohamud and Issa Doreh – received convictions in 2013 due to the NSA’s telephone surveillance program. However, the ninth circuit ruled that those claims were “inconsistent with the contents of the classified record.”
Civil liberties advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which was very active in bringing the case to appeal, praised the court’s ruling on the NSA’s spy program.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for our privacy rights,” the ACLU declared in a statement. In their view, the ruling “makes plain that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records violated the constitution”.
Trump should listen to these America First officials and pardon Snowden.