The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the National Security Agency program which stored and analyzed the metadata from Americans’ phone calls was illegal. This was one of the many secret government programs exposed by Edward Snowden. The court ruled that these bulk collection programs violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the only legislation that would allow such a program to be legal.
These programs were started shortly after 9/11 in an attempt to track terrorists. The case which brought this ruling charged four Somali imigrants with terror group fundraising. The role the programs played in the conviction of the four Somali’s was so minor that it was not worth overturning their case. The judge scolded the government for claiming the program actually helped catch terrorists:
To the extent the public statements of government officials created a contrary impression, that impression is inconsistent with the contents of the classified record…
Edward Snowden was right. The government was operating numerous illegal data collection programs. He’s not a criminal but a whistleblower, and the espionage charges against him should be dropped.