NSA has used the 1976 Baltimore robbery case to justify today's global government surveillance. Do this small-time 1976 robbery case really provide legal base for NSA spying?
The National Security Agency has used a small robbery case as its justification for spying. The 1976 Baltimore case actually laid the legal grounds for today's global government surveillance. NSA has defended the agency’s spying policy against the rants of the critics. According to General Keith Alexander, the collection of metadata is the only method of gaining access to the terrorists.
The director of the NSA has said that there is no better methodology of getting the terrorists among us than to track the telephone calls of Americans. Though it was an invasion of privacy yet it was a necessary step too. And NSA is using a 1976 robbery case as its justification for the collection of "metadata". How can the 1976 Baltimore purse-snatching case be relevant to NSA spying.
Actually in 1976, the Supreme Court allowed the government to collect the phone records of purse-snatcher Michael Lee Smith for the provision of robbery evidences. And after the 9/11 attacks, NSA is using this case as legal reference for collecting telephone records of Americans and foreigners to protect the U.S. from terrorists. Hence the 1976 Baltimore robbery case is being used by US government for global surveillance.
According to the NSA General, metadata collection was the least bothersome way of gathering the necessary data about people. He also spoke of how it was a crucial step in defending the United States against its enemies. Though it was a feeble attempt at justifying what was essentially against the law of the land, General Keith Alexander was adamant. He said that if anyone could come up with a better idea he or she ought to suggest it. Unfortunately, there were none.
However, the federal judge and even the prosecutor of the 1976 Baltimore robbery case are not favoring NSA for using such small-time old case for global government surveillance. "To say that a small-time robbery on the street is a precedent for what was then unforeseen and massive electronic surveillance is simply a stretch, to put it mildly," says former Maryland Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs, who defended the government's use of phone records to arrest and convict Smith. "For present purposes, you have to say that the trapping of information from one suspect is different, for God's sake, than trapping the data of every American who uses a telephone or the Internet. There's a distinction of volume, of context. But that's what the Supreme Court is going to have to decide."