The Beatles’ link to the NSA? Ask the judge

The Beatles, shown during their 1964 appearance on 'The Ed Sullivan Show,' were referenced in a federal judge's ruling on the National Security Agency's practice of gathering information from telecommunications providers.
(Anonymous / AP)

The Beatles and the National Security Agency? There may be stranger bedfellows, but it’s difficult at the moment to come up with a good example.

Nevertheless, Federal District Court Judge Richard J. Leon turned to the Fab Four in the course of his ruling in Klayman vs. Obama, a suit brought by a consortium of citizens led by conservative public-interest lawyer Larry Klayman. Leon ruled that the NSA’s collection of information on U.S. citizens through their cellphone providers “surely” infringes on the rights of privacy established under the 4th Amendment and is, therefore, unconstitutional.

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In reaching that decision, Leon castigated the government for “trying to have it both ways” in claiming that the NSA’s communications surveillance program was designed to create a comprehensive database from which to monitor potential terrorist activity “across multiple telecommunications networks.” Yet Leon says the government also argued that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing to bring their suit because of a distinction it drew between information gathered from Verizon Business Networks Services and that which came from Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint.

“To draw an analogy,” Leon wrote in footnote 36 to his ruling, which was flagged by former Times colleague and now the Wall Street Journal’s Supreme Court correspondent, Jess Bravin, “if the NSA’s program operates the way the Government suggests it does, then omitting Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint from the collection would be like omitting John, Paul and George from a historical analysis of the Beatles.

“A Ringo-only database doesn’t make any sense, and I cannot believe the Government would create, maintain and so ardently defend such a system.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah.


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Follow Randy Lewis on Twitter: @RandyLewis2