CO Case Challenging Warantless NSA Surveillance Could Lead to High Court


A Colorado resident charged with terrorism-related offenses challenged the constitutionality of a 2008 law allowing the National Security Agency to conduct a sweeping program of surveillance without warrants on U.S. soil, the New York Times reports. The challenge — the first of its kind — could lead to a Supreme Court test of the program. A federal judge in Illinois ordered the government to show a defense lawyer classified materials related to the national security surveillance of his client. No defense lawyer has apparently ever been allowed to see such materials since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was enacted in 1978.

Together, the two actions are significant developments in efforts to obtain more judicial review of the legality of surveillance conducted on domestic soil for national security purposes amid fallout from leaks about NSA wiretapping by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. In the Colorado case, lawyers for Jamshid Muhtorov, filed a brief asking a federal judge to bar prosecutors from introducing evidence derived from warrantless surveillance by the NSA. They argued that the program violates the Fourth Amendment. Muhtorov, a permanent resident in the U.S. legally, is accused of planning to travel abroad to join an Islamist terrorist group in his native Uzbekistan.

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