Dude, I explained it right in the part at the beginning you conveniently deleted from quoting. I'll write it again so you can't miss it:
Originally Posted by OldWorldOrder
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. If a law is contrary to the Constitution (or, more accurately, the current interpretation of the Constitution), that law is "unconstitutional," which makes it illegal in a very strict sense. And since we are using the words legal and illegal here as codifications of right and wrong, the fact that something is cursorily legal does not mean it actually is legal, nor right (in the moral sense) for that matter.
And to make matters worse, the USSC has ruled directly contrary to prohibitions in the Constitution many times in the past. So even the Supreme Court, who is tasked with the (contemporary) interpretation of right and wrong, are sometimes blatantly and objectively wrong!
In essence, if an action is proscribed by a higher authority, it doesn't really matter if a subordinate authority allows such an action. For example, if a law is passed stating "You may not pray in this country, under any circumstances", there is no interpretation under the First Amendment that makes such a law legally binding. In fact, if an authoritative body orders your arrest for praying in the forbidden location, that body would be acting illegally! But here's the real kicker, which is what I thought was going to be the real sticking point in the argument: even if the Supreme Court makes a (contemporaneous) interpretation that allows for your detention anyway, the Court would be objectively and unarguably wrong. If the Supreme Court were to review a law simply doing away with Article V and granted itself sole power to amend the Constitution, that would be in direct violation of the Constitution and as such would be illegal.
As I've explained, many times now, it really doesn't matter in so far as the level of "legal" you are stuck with in this argument. The Constitution did not imbue the federal government with such power, so by one standard, no, it is very much not legal. But the Constitution did allow such wiggle room as to grow and expand over time, not only through the amendment process but also through case law and judicial review. As such, to answer the question in the modern paradigm.... we don't know if it's legal or not. But the real rub of this particular matter is that the secrecy involved makes it impossible to examine through judicial review under normal (and technically "legal") circumstances. This is why the FISA Court is often referred to as "the second Supreme Court" since it has such far reaching power.... without ever having been given a charter in the Constitution. Don't you see the problem with that? That is a very, very convenient whole punched right through the Fourth Amendment, don't you think? FISA has also abrogated such power as to have a tome of secret case law that is up for neither review nor public scrutiny, i.e. secret laws that you can't know about because they are secret. And where, exactly, does the Constitution grant any government entity the power to seize records and classify the seizure as Top Secret, holding those the order is levied against to punishments applicable to Top Secret programs?
Well, it's legal right now, isn't it? That's all I'm asking.
In laymen's terms:
Court: Give us all your money.
You: I don't have to.
Court: You sure do. It's the law.
You: Prove it.
Court: We don't have to. It's a secret law. We know because we made it up. And if you tell anyone about this, we'll lock you up forever.
There is literally nothing in the Constitution that allows any entity, federal or otherwise, to have ^that kind of power... and literally nothing stopping FISA from acting exactly like ^that.
Another layer? How about a single layer. FISA judges are appointed by the USSC Chief Justice, without confirmation or oversight. Appeals are right back to the very body who issued the original order; i.e. dad said you can't have any ice cream, so go ask... dad again. Due to the secrecy of the warrants and orders, usually only government lawyers are allowed in the closed court rooms! If there was even one flimsy layer of oversight, that would be an infinite improvement over what currently exists.
Okay? Add another layer of oversight and then what? Someone like you can complain that that
organization doesn't have oversight. And so on and so forth.
The NSA brings guidelines before the Court for how and what they are going to collect, not specifically who they are going to collect it from. If the Court signs off on what the NSA wants to do, the NSA takes that back to the NSA and makes sure the NSA knows what the NSA is allowed to do. Of course, this entire process is overseen back at the NSA by.... you guessed it! The NSA! Only the NSA knows if they are complying with the Court's orders, or if the scope of collection is keeping within what was provided the Court to pass judgement on (keeping the construction project within the original bid, so to speak).
No, it's not, the FISA court isn't internal to NSA.