Now it is what such investigation must be about.
July 24, 2012 | By Trevor Timm
Congress Must Act After US Government Admits To Unconstitutional Warrantless Wiretapping For the First Time
As Congress and the President rush to re-authorize the dangerous FISA Amendments Act (FAA)—the law shamefully passed after pressure to legalize certain portions of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program—EFF has been sounding the alarm that Americans’ communications are still being unconstitutionally collected by the government without a warrant. On Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, (DNI) begrudgingly agreed, acknowledging that, “on at least one occasion” the secret FISA court “held that some collection…used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
In a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the DNI declassified three statements at the request of the Senator, one of which indicated that the FISA Court agreed with Wyden that the government had “circumvented the spirit of the law.” Wired called it a “federal sidestep of a major section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” and the Wall Street Journal confirmed it “represented the first time the government has acknowledged U.S. spy activities violated the constitution since the passage of” the FAA in 2008.
This is vital information, as Congress is in the midst of debate over extending Section 702 of the FAA before it expires at the end of the year. Section 702 severely weakened privacy protections for Americans communicating overseas, and may have swallowed protections against surveillance of our domestic communications as well.
As it does, this is one of the instances of knee-jerk denial cited:
Sen. Wyden, on the other hand, has been alleging that “section 702 [of the Act] currently contains a loophole that could be used to circumvent traditional warrant protections and search for the communications of a potentially large number of American citizens.” But Wyden’s amendment that would have required a warrant to search the communications of a specific American was voted down 13-2 after Intelligence committee chairman Dianne Feinstein insisted there was no such loophole. Sen. Feinstein’s assurances seem to conflict with the DNI’s statement.
Congress may be able to ignore reports in the media that the NSA is still collecting Americans’ emails, but it should not ignore the admission from the DNI itself. Congress must now drastically overhaul this law to prevent further abuses of the Constitution or vote down entirely.
Pesky constitution, such an uncomfortable impediment to the globally controlled, population reduced, “civil society.”