While it was not long ago that President Obama, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other officials insisted that there was no illegal surveillance in the massive warrantless programs disclosed by Snowdon and others, new documents show that the National Security Agency not only violated the law for years but actively misled judges on the use of such illegal surveillance. The programs covered millions of call records and was only acknowledged by the Administration after a lawsuit by civil libertarians — a lawsuit that it has tried to dismiss (like dozens of others tossed out at the demand of the Obama Administration).
The documents were finally released by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. You remember Clapper. He is the one who admitted to lying under oath to Congress but has been protected from any investigation let alone charged for perjury by Attorney General Eric Holder. Fresh from his perjury, Clapper is now leading the effort to address any need for reform in the unlawful programs that he helped maintain.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued NSA to obtain the documents from a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court. The violations occurred between May 2006 and January 2009 and affected as many as 16,000 phone numbers, including some based in the U.S. The FISA court, which is widely ridiculed as a laughable and toothless body, was only notified in 2009.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, serving on the surveillance court, wrote of being “deeply troubled by the incidents.” That is remarkably understated for a massive violation of privacy and notably it all occurred out of the view of the public. The FISA court has only turned down a couple applications among tens of thousands over decades of secret proceedings. It has more rhetorical than legal authority.
The NSA in this latest scandal intercepted calls without meeting even the low standard of a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that a phone number is believed to be connected to terrorism. This was not accidental interceptions but deliberate violations.
More than 2,700 violations involving NSA surveillance of Americans and foreigners were found in a single year of review. No one of course was charged and there is no evidence of discipline. It is all part of America’s secret court system.
Notably, few of these violations would likely have been disclosed without the disclosure of Snowden. Not surprisingly, these embarrassing stories only increase the demand of President Obama and powerful Democratic leaders for the head of Snowdon. The disclosures show that congressional oversight remains a bad joke and that our leaders have continued to mislead the public about the pathetic state of privacy in this country.
Source: Washington Post