Posted by | April 16, 2009 11:49 | Filed under: Top Stories

Our beloved National Security Agency intercepted private email messages and phone calls beyond legal limits that Congress established last year.


Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic, although one official said it was believed to have been unintentional.


I love how they put that.  “Overcollecton” of data. Some thief accused of stealing one day will say it was just an “overcollection.”  The Obama administration has been looking into operational problems with the NSA.  The Justice Department says new safeguards are now in place after a periodic review of the NSA “detected issues that raised concerns.”

The questions may not be settled yet. Intelligence officials say they are still examining the scope of the N.S.A. practices, and Congressional investigators say they hope to determine if any violations of Americans’ privacy occurred. It is not clear to what extent the agency may have actively listened in on conversations or read e-mail messages of Americans without proper court authority, rather than simply obtained access to them.


The NSA was granted broad new authority after 9/11 by the Bush administration to collect international communications via email and telephone that passed through US portals, but the targets had to be “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States.  Any domestic communications of Americans would still require court approval.  The NSA is claiming “operational and legal problems” complying with that law.

For more than two years the NSA’s wiretapping has been under investigation by the Department of Justice.

As part of that investigation, a senior F.B.I. agent recently came forward with what the inspector general’s office described as accusations of “significant misconduct” in the surveillance program, people with knowledge of the investigation said. Those accusations are said to involve whether the N.S.A. made Americans targets in eavesdropping operations based on insufficient evidence tying them to terrorism.

The NSA also tried a warrantless wiretap on an unidentified member of Congress who had contact with an extremist on a Middle East trip in 2005 or 2006.  That plan was blocked by intel officials who were concerned about using the NSA to spy on a member of Congress without court oversight.  Spying on average Americans, with no court oversight, was apparently not a problem.

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Copyright 2009 Liberaland
By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.