The National Security Administration significantly and systematically abused its warrantless wiretapping powers by targeting Americans, listening in on purely domestic conversations, even trying to wiretap a U.S. representative without a warrant, the Times reported this week.
The revelations largely come from an FBI agent who detailed "significant misconduct" in the program, including targeting Americans with insufficient suspicion that they were engaged in terrorism.
This just shows what many of us suspected: Domestic spying is a give-an-inch-take-a-mile proposition. The spy agencies will always say they are doing this under strict parameters. They will always abuse those parameters. It's just too tempting. And invariably oversight depends on the agencies coming forward - as they finally did here - with the proof of their own misbehavior. This is driven by the change in administrations, but don't think for a minute that ANY administration can be trusted to monitor its own adherence to the law.
Look for upcoming House and Senate investigations.
e have received notice of a serious issue involving the N.S.A., and we’ve begun inquiries into it,” a Congressional staff member said.
The Justice Department says the problems were technical -- they didn't really know how to distinguish between overseas and domestic calls among the millions of calls it intercepted with the willing help of the phone companies -- but they have been solved.
Justice “took comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance” with the law and court orders, according to a statement.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is using the article as the basis for a new round of fundraising around illegal wiretaps.It is imperative that there be strict oversight to ensure that the government does not abuse its unprecedented access to our domestic communications networks. Increasingly, the courts -- and in particular, EFF's lawsuits against the NSA and the telcos -- appear to be our only hope for government accountability and transparency when it comes to warrantless wiretapping.