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January 04 2014


For years, as new data came into the NSA's database containing virtually every phone call record in the United States, analysts would search over 17,000 phone numbers in it every day. It turns out only about 1,800 of those numbers – 11% – met the legal requirement that the NSA have "reasonable articulable suspicion" that the number was involved in terrorism.

What were the other 89% of the numbers being searched for? We're not exactly sure. But we do know that five years after the metadata program was brought under a legal framework, the Fisa court concluded it had been "so frequently and systematically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively".

In another recently-released Fisa court opinion (pdf) about the NSA collection of American internet metadata, the court accused the NSA of engaging in "systemic overcollection" for years, and that "'virtually every [metadata] record' generated by this program included some data that had not been authorized for collection". The judge listed the government's "frequent failures to comply with the [surveillance program's] terms", excoriated them for their "apparent widespread disregard of [Fisa court imposed] restrictions", and accused the NSA of committing "longstanding and pervasive violations of the prior orders in this matter".

Obama lügt | Guardian

July 11 2013


Essentially, the court re-defined the word “relevant” to mean “anything and everything.” Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall explained two years ago on the Senate floor that Americans would be shocked if they knew how the government was interpreting the Patriot Act. This is exactly what they were talking about.

It’s likely the precedent laid down in the last few years will stay law for years to come if the courts are not reformed. FISA judges are appointed by one unelected official who holds lifetime office: the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Under current law, for the coming decades, Chief Justice John Roberts will solely decide who will write the sweeping surveillance opinions few will be allowed to read, but which everyone will be subject to. []...

Under the FISA Amendments Act, "the court is now approving programmatic surveillance. I don't think that is a judicial function.” He continued, "Anyone who has been a judge will tell you a judge needs to hear both sides of a case…This process needs an adversary."

Reform the FISA Court:| EFF

July 07 2013


While Nixon broke the law to attack dissenting voices, Obama has distorted it to the same effect.

And he's taken his powers much, much further -- misinterpreting outdated or poorly written laws to claim his administration's authority to spy on almost anyone who uses modern technology to communicate.

Is Obama Like Richard Nixon? | Alternet
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