Public Interest Lawsuit Forces Disclosure Of Widespread Surveillance Violations By The NSA

President_Barack_ObamaNSA logoWhile 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

48 thoughts on “Public Interest Lawsuit Forces Disclosure Of Widespread Surveillance Violations By The NSA”

  1. Holder needs to testify, under oath, why he is not prosecuting for lying to Congress, illegal spying and what many would consider treason, sharing raw intelligence data on US citizens with Israel.

  2. This is a good article JT. I am for revoking the Patriot Act. It sounds like something Hitler dreamed up. Come to think of it he did, There are 1933 parallels here. Does anyone recall or know of the Reichstag Fire Decrees?

  3. anonymously posted 1, September 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Keith Alexander’s “command center”:

    When he was running the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, Alexander brought many of his future allies down to Fort Belvoir for a tour of his base of operations, a facility known as the Information Dominance Center. It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a “whoosh” sound when they slid open and closed. Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in a leather “captain’s chair” in the center of the room and watched as Alexander, a lover of science-fiction movies, showed off his data tools on the big screen.

    “Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard,” says a retired officer in charge of VIP visits.

    Alexander wowed members of Congress with his eye-popping command center.
    ================================
    This is not unusual in a modern feudalistic society where the military calls the shots: Then-defense secretary Robert M. Gates stopped bagging his leaves when he moved into a small Washington military enclave in 2007. His next-door neighbor was Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, who had a chef, a personal valet and — not lost on Gates — troops to tend his property.

    Gates may have been the civilian leader of the world’s largest military, but his position did not come with household staff. So, he often joked, he disposed of his leaves by blowing them onto the chairman’s lawn.

    “I was often jealous because he had four enlisted people helping him all the time,” Gates said in response to a question after a speech Thursday. He wryly complained to his wife that “Mullen’s got guys over there who are fixing meals for him, and I’m shoving something into the microwave. And I’m his boss.”

    Of the many facts that have come to light in the scandal involving former CIA director David H. Petraeus, among the most curious was that during his days as a four-star general, he was once escorted by 28 police motorcycles as he traveled from his Central Command headquarters in Tampa to socialite Jill Kelley’s mansion. Although most of his trips did not involve a presidential-size convoy, the scandal has prompted new scrutiny of the imperial trappings that come with a senior general’s lifestyle.

    The commanders who lead the nation’s military services and those who oversee troops around the world enjoy an array of perquisites befitting a billionaire, including executive jets, palatial homes, drivers, security guards and aides to carry their bags, press their uniforms and track their schedules in 10-minute increments. Their food is prepared by gourmet chefs. If they want music with their dinner parties, their staff can summon a string quartet or a choir.

    The elite regional commanders who preside over large swaths of the planet don’t have to settle for Gulfstream V jets. They each have a C-40, the military equivalent of a Boeing 737 … (American Feudalism – 3).

  4. Big News: “The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

    Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/11/nsa-americans-personal-data-israel-documents

  5. Gene,

    Yep….

    And how can you have the wolf guarding the henhouse…. I suppose its ok to lie to congress of your name is clapper….

  6. Keith Alexander’s “command center”:

    It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a “whoosh” sound when they slid open and closed. -from the following article

    The Cowboy of the NSA

    Inside Gen. Keith Alexander’s all-out, barely-legal drive to build the ultimate spy machine.

    by Shane Harris, September 9, 2013

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/09/08/the_cowboy_of_the_nsa_keith_alexander?page=0,0

    Excerpt

    When he was running the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, Alexander brought many of his future allies down to Fort Belvoir for a tour of his base of operations, a facility known as the Information Dominance Center. It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a “whoosh” sound when they slid open and closed. Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in a leather “captain’s chair” in the center of the room and watched as Alexander, a lover of science-fiction movies, showed off his data tools on the big screen.

    “Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard,” says a retired officer in charge of VIP visits.

    Alexander wowed members of Congress with his eye-popping command center.

  7. rafflaw 1, September 11, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Gene,
    The only way to begin to reign in these abuses is to start with the Patriot Act, as amended, and tear it up. Then move on to the AUMF and tear it up. That would be a good start. Clapper should be behind bars.
    =======================
    Indeed.

  8. Otteray Scribe 1, September 11, 2013 at 10:07 am

    This is interesting from The Guardian:

    ===========================
    Bybee on the largest appellate court, luddites like her in the federal district courts.

    To protect the guilty and destroy the innocent (lest we forget) because of our “national interests”???????

  9. the great lie:
    9-11 is the great lie that is the foundation for all the other lies of the last decade, and the march to US corporate fascism within a Stasi police state. This great lie must be revealed, accepted and expunged before we, as country, can ever recover our footing.
    from a registered architect –
    see Architects and Engineers for 9-11 Truth
    http://www.ae911truth.org

  10. Gene,
    The only way to begin to reign in these abuses is to start with the Patriot Act, as amended, and tear it up. Then move on to the AUMF and tear it up. That would be a good start. Clapper should be behind bars.

  11. The US govt. has not proven itself honest, credible or as having the best interest of ifs citizens in mind. For this reason, I remain bemused as to why this govt. and its president continue to be looked at as if they are each of these things. How many instances of lawlessness, lies and truly appalling behavior does it take before people will admit to the truth?

    It’s surrealistic that Obama and deep state USA is treated as trustworthy when the evidence shows again and again that they are not. The NSA isn’t doing this to catch terrorists any more than Obama is humanitarianly making war on Syria because he really, really cares about civilians in Syria.

    After a while, it becomes necessary to face difficult truths and act with that knowledge in our minds and hearts. There is a weird pathology that people bring to their dealings with the powerful. It keeps people from seeing what is directly in front of us.

    In order to bring the US back into compliance with US and international law, this pathological refusal to see reality must end.

    Here is the link to the Guardian article in my prior post:
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/10/nsa-violated-court-rules-data-documents

  12. Regarding the purity of Keith Alexander: “Judge Reggie Walton, now the presiding judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court, imposed a significant and previously undisclosed restriction on the NSA’s ability to access its bulk databases of phone records after finding that the agency repeatedly violated privacy protections.

    The documents, mostly from 2009 and declassified Tuesday, describe what Walton said were “thousands” of American phone numbers improperly accessed by government counterterrorism analysts.

    They also indicate that US government officials, including NSA director Keith Alexander, gave misleading statements to the court about how they carried out that surveillance.” (The Guardian)

  13. This is interesting from The Guardian:

    A former senior FBI official implicated in surveillance abuses is poised to become a federal judge in one of the US’s most important courts for terrorism cases.

    Valerie Caproni, the FBI’s top lawyer from 2003 to 2011, is scheduled to receive a vote on Monday in the Senate for a seat on the southern district court of New York.

    Caproni has come under bipartisan criticism over the years for enabling widespread surveillance later found to be inappropriate or illegal. During her tenure as the FBI’s general counsel, she clashed with Congress and even the Fisa surveillance court over the proper scope of the FBI’s surveillance powers.

    Just what we need. Apparently a female version of John Yoo on the Federal bench. On the menu, “I’ll have a large helping of rationalization sauce to pour over the surveillance à la mode, with a side order of torture.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/06/fbi-lawyer-surveillance-judge-valerie-caproni

  14. It is all part of America’s secret court system.” – JT

    That “secret court system” was ridiculed as a conspiracy theory not so very long ago.

  15. Good comments Gene.

    It seems impossible, but By comparison to NSA Director Keith Alexander, Director Clapper is starting to look like a paragon of honesty.

    Tells us about the standards of integrity towards the American people that exist in Washington.

  16. Anyone for revoking the Patriot Act?

    Putting the NSA back on the short leash?

    Prosecuting pols who enable this kind of Constitutional violation?

    Anyone?

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