‘Thousands of NSA Analysts Can Listen to Domestic Phone Calls,’ Read Emails, Texts, IMs

‘Thousands of NSA Analysts Can Listen to Domestic Phone Calls,’ Read Emails, Texts, IMs
June 19, 2013

Seton Motley

Seton Motley is the president of Less Government, a DC-based non-profit organization dedicated to... (read full bio)

UPDATES: Aplenty – from late last night – below.  Please, indulge us and read from top to bottom – for clarity’s sake.

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That’s some good news right there.

The National Security Agency (NSA) has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls….

Hold the phone.  (Get it?)  The NSA claims “it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.”  The Fourth Amendment begs to differ.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

How unreasonable are all of these probable-cause-and-warrant-free listening expeditions?

(T)he Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls….

If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required….

More legal flights of fancy from Held-in-Bipartisan-Contempt-of-Congress-Once-and-Counting Attorney General Eric Holder.

Edward Snowden – the guy who first alerted us to this NSA-PRISM-NUCLEON mess – has had his veracity (and mental stability) challenged for claiming Little-Old-He could unilaterally “wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president.”

Edward Snowden Is Completely Wrong

Not so wrong after all.

When some of us responded to all of this with alarm, we too were summarily dismissed.

‘Nobody is Listening to Your Telephone Calls,’ Obama Says

NSA Data Mining

The paranoid imagine that government eavesdroppers are listening in on their phone conversations and reading their intimate emails.

Someone is listening.  Thousands of someones (at least), in fact.  (And reading – please stay tuned.)  Not so paranoid after all.

(President Barack) Obama Calls Surveillance Programs Legal and Limited

“Legal” is highly dubious.  How about “limited?”

NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily

That’s a fairly expansive definition of “limited.”

By now, the following claim – now just nine days old – seems quaint and antiquated.  Not to mention fundamentally untrue.

President Insists Americans Not Target of Records Sweep

Again, we’re all James Rosens now.

What about our fantasies of the government reading our emails (and text messages, and instant messages, and…)?

(NSA phone call self-)authorization appears to extend to e-mail and text messages too….

Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, being able to listen to phone calls would mean the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications too without going before a court and seeking approval.

Again, we’re all James Rosens now.  And then some.

But wait – we were told it was just the email and Internet metadata – not the content.

Again, not so much.

We have throughout this nightmare awakening had Big Government proponents and officials aplenty – up to and repeatedly including the President – lying their faces off about what is actually happening with our phone calls, emails and all things Internet.

Preemptively listening to, peeking at and harvesting the data of hundreds of millions of innocent Americans is not a “national security” prerogative.  It is, however, a Big Brother imperative.

So when we have warned you about things like:

Forget the ‘Fairness’ Doctrine – Net Neutrality is the Future of Censorship

Obama Official-Network Neutrality Deviser Says First Amendment Doesn’t Apply to Our Computers

And the Left’s response is:

Right-Wing Delusion: Net Neutrality is Government Plot to Control Internet Content

We can all be forgiven for being more than a little skeptical.  On Net Neutrality – and just about everything else.

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UPDATE #1: Obama Administration Director of National Intelligence James Clapper late last night released a statement denying most or all of the above.  Which in part reads:

“The statement that a single analyst can eavesdrop on domestic communications without proper legal authorization is incorrect and was not briefed to Congress.”

This is the same James Clapper that in a March 12 Congressional hearing lied to Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden – denying that trillions of Verizon domestic phone call sweeps were occurring.

Fire James Clapper

The Director of National Intelligence lied to Congress about NSA surveillance. What else will he lie about?

Good question.  Is it possible (probable?) that Clapper is lying again here?  Indeed it is.

Which makes the following even more pathetic.

UPDATE #2: New York Democrat Congressman Jerry Nadler was a key original source for this eavesdropping story.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”

If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee….

In prostrating response to the statement from proven liar James Clapper – a member of the proven-lying Obama Administration – Congressman Nadler has retreated into being a good Democrat, but a troublingly bad representative of We the People and our Constitutional rights.

James Owens, a spokesman for Nadler, provided a statement on Sunday morning, a day after this (original) article was published, saying:

“I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”

Owens said he couldn’t comment on what assurances from the Obama administration Nadler was referring to, and said Nadler was unavailable for an interview.

Congressman Nadler was thus also unavailable to explain why or how this latest Obama Administration assertion, after all of these lies, is any more believable.

And is Congressman Nadler addled?  Was the briefing he (and obviously, ostensibly other Members) attended merely a figment of his imagination?

Hard to think so.  Especially since he – and Snowdon – aren’t the only people to make similar Administration snooping claims:

Senate Intelligence committee chairperson Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) confirmed on Thursday, according to the report, that a court order is not necessary for the NSA to search its call data database that it collects under secret orders from major U.S. telecom firms….

(F)ormer FBI counter-terrorism agent Tim Clemente disclosed to CNN that under certain investigations relating to the protection of national security, his former employer could access call records and contents of those calls.

“All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not,” he claimed.

It is difficult under these circumstances – with all of these corroborating statements – to not think that what best represents the truth is what Congressman Nadler said first.

Given that the serially untruthful Obama Administration are the only ones denying it.

[First Published on RedState]

Seton Motley

Seton Motley is the president of Less Government, a DC-based non-profit organization dedicated to... (read full bio)