NSA searched U.S. calls, emails without warrant, U.S. intelligence chief admits

NSA searched U.S. calls, emails without warrant, U.S. intelligence chief admits

Summary: For the first time, the highest ranking U.S. intelligence community official admitted to two senators that the NSA used a "backdoor" in surveillance laws to conduct the searches.

TOPICS: Security

"Nobody is listening to your telephone calls," U.S. President Barack Obama said in June 2013. 

Except, that's not strictly true.

The U.S. National Security Agency used a "backdoor" in surveillance laws to conduct warrantless searches on American call and email data, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted in a letter to a senior politician.

In a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) seen by The Guardian, Clapper admitted: "There have been queries, using U.S. person identifiers, of communications lawfully acquired to obtain foreign intelligence targeting non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States."

"These queries were performed pursuant to minimization procedures approved by the FISA court and consistent with the statute and the fourth amendment," Clapper continued.

But he did not state how many searches, or how many "U.S. persons" were affected by the searches, which were conducted through the controversial PRISM and Upstream programs.

This is the first time Clapper has admitted publicly the NSA conducted such searches by exploiting a loophole in surveillance law, despite earlier documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden that the U.S. intelligence agency claiming that this was the case.

Despite protected by the Fourth Amendment, which prevents unwarranted searches and seizures, the loophole allowed the NSA to acquire intelligence on Americans from 2011 onwards, when it was first authorized by Washington's secret surveillance panel, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

The surveillance dragnet may sweep up any communications Americans may have with foreign nationals, but the authority to search that information appeared to be in conflict with what U.S. officials and the White House were saying on the record at the time.

Topic: Security

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  • Anther example on how the secret FISC Court subjugates the US Constitution

    The NSA and it's "Legal Arm" inches ever so closer to spiritually bonding with their 1939 European soul mates.
  • There is no "LOOPHOLE"

    There is no loophole that congress, senate, or even the President can pass without changing the constitution of the United States of America, unless we all collectively decide that their personal versions of "privacy laws", laws which necessarily are hidden and secret, are of a higher order of precedence than our constitution.

    Correct me if I'm legally wrong on this, but isn't the Constitution the HIGHEST LAW IN THE LAND, greater than any single decision or act of even our President and the combined might of Congress?

    If they honestly believe these NSA laws to be so sacrosanct, shouldn't they have made the effort to make them legal by adding them to our constitution? O but wait - then we, the people of the United States would have found out about them. And we probably would have held the feet of our representatives to the fire and demanded that our rights be restored.

    • Beg pardon...

      but the Constitution being a "living document" is a Liberal myth...
      Tony Burzio