Other Civil Liberties Abuses Used to Justify NSA Data Collections

Sobriety checkpoints and mandatory drug tests, et cetera


Sobriety checkpoints and mandatory drug testing of student athletes and railroad workers are among the legal precedents justifying the U.S. government's now-defunct and court-approved secret e-mail metadata dragnet surveillance program, according to documents the authorities released late Monday.

The thousands of pages of records the President Barack Obama administration unveiled include the nation's first opinion from a secret tribunal authorizing the government to obtain data from the "to" "from" "cc" and "bcc" fields of all e-mail "to thwart terrorist attacks."

"This concern clearly involves national security interests beyond the normal need for law enforcement and is at least as compelling as other governmental interests that have been held to justify searches in the absence of individualized suspicion," Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, then the presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, wrote in an opinion believed dated in 2004.