Section 702 surveillance set to prosper no matter which party controls Washington

A federal appeals court ruled last week that the government did not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of Mohamed Mohamud, a Somali-American student arrested by the FBI in 2010, when it spied on him under authorities granted under Section 702 of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act. The decision is a setback to a much needed rollback of Section 702 powers, which appear to be used, as this case suggests, for the kind of operations that could be characterized as entrapment, rather than anything that might actually prevent real terrorist attacks.

The case of United States v. Mohamud presented the best opportunity for critics of FISA to challenge it on constitutional grounds, since the government admitted some of the evidence it had collected against Mohamud was collected under a provision of the law permitting the federal government to collect all kinds of communications between U.S. citizens and foreign individuals the government has targeted for terror-related investigations.

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