In the first case of its kind in history, the United States government will attempt to charge a suspected criminal with a crime based on data retrieved through warrantless wiretaps on his cell phone and personal email address.
In the prosecution of Jamshid Muhtorov, emails and digital communications pulled from his various mobile devices will be submitted to the court as evidence, even though absolutely no warrants or documents of due process were obtained prior to recording the information. Charged in January of 2012, the federalis used illegal tactics to discover details about Muhrotov which led them to suspect he may have been involved with the Islamic Jihad Union, a terrorist organization based out of Uzbekistan.
They reveal documents which suggest he had plans to leave the country with “valuable secrets”, joining up with the militant group once he was off of American soil. Although this is not the first time warrantless wiretaps have been used as a prosecution tool by the government for the purpose of locking up those they deem “terrorists”, it is the first time any of them have been told about it during their trial.
The National Security Division has stood up to the criticism in an effort to defend itself, claiming the secrecy and efficacy of these programs go hand in hand, and to compromise one is to weaken the other. In a statement, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Patrick Toomey expressed his appreciation for the move itself, but was quick to criticize the Justice Department’s actions as a whole:
“We welcome the government’s belated recognition that it must give notice to criminal defendants who it has monitored under the most sweeping surveillance law ever passed by Congress,” Mr. Toomey said. “By withholding notice, the government has avoided judicial review of its dragnet warrantless wiretapping program for five years.”
Many suspect the public knowledge of this case is no mistake, as the NSA and its related counterparts scramble to find a way to justify the mass surveillance of nearly all citizens within its borders. It’s likely we’ll be hearing more about these stories, many of which will likely spend their time profiling “high-level terrorists who were expertly thwarted by the good ol’ NSA” to prevent a bomb from going off in yours or your neighbors living room. There is also the expectation that this case will end up in front of the Supreme Court (being the first of the pack comes with benefits), and could have the potential to set a precedent for the past decade of domestic and international wiretapping undertaken by the Land of the “Free”.
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