Going Beyond the Limits Surveillance


icon_digg9 Admittedly before 911 we were open to terrorists and we’ve paid dearly for our lacks and arrogant mistakes in many ways; loss of life of those involved in the twin towers attack, individual freedoms, increased taxes, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and international embarrassment on the Bush’s administration policies regarding torture to name a few.

However, we keep reading and hearing, for the past five years, how we’re “winning” the “War on Terror”, and reading an article such as this posted in the New York Times, entitled “N.S.A.’s Intercepts Exceed Limits Set by Congress”, authored by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen is disturbing to me.

I was taught and agree with the fact; we live in a country governed by the “Rule of Law”, which to me implies our laws were authored for one sole purpose and to prosecute those who break this intended law.  Not to use the congressional passed legislation to uncover personal information concerning individuals for storage in a National Database and used for unknown purposes.

Here are a few excerpts from the Post article which I feel are significant:

The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews.

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.

The Justice Department, in response to inquiries from The New York Times, acknowledged in a statement on Wednesday night that there had been problems with the N.S.A. surveillance operation, but said they had been resolved.

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

After a contentious three-year debate that was set off by the disclosure in 2005 of the program of wiretapping without warrants that President George W. Bush approved after the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress gave the N.S.A. broad new authority to collect, without court-approved warrants, vast streams of international phone and e-mail traffic as it passed through American telecommunications gateways. The targets of the eavesdropping had to be “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States. Under the new legislation, however, the N.S.A. still needed court approval to monitor the purely domestic communications of Americans who came under suspicion.

One official said that led the agency to inadvertently “target” groups of Americans and collect their domestic communications without proper court authority. Officials are still trying to determine how many violations may have occurred.

Notified of the problems by the N.S.A., officials with both the House and Senate intelligence committees said they had concerns that the agency had ignored civil liberties safeguards built into last year’s wiretapping law. “We have received notice of a serious issue involving the N.S.A., and we’ve begun inquiries into it,” a Congressional staff member said.

And in one previously undisclosed episode, the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant, an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Following is a video I produced during President Obama’s Presidential campaign, which I feel outlines the problems associated with the FISA legislation:

Senators Obama, Clinton, McCain – The Patriot Act

As one can surmise it is my personal feelings that in the coming November election we will be voting for Senators Obama, Clinton or McCain to be our next President. Also, it is my sincere hope that this newly elected president will restore many of the personal liberties, we as citizens of America have given up over the past eight years.

One example of surrendering our liberty, and for me the most important, is our Patriot Act. If I resided or visited a country outside the United States, and this country was on our country’s “watch” list, as being hostile to America; then I would fully support our current Patriot Act, has authored. But, me visiting a “friendly” country, to our nation and electronically communicating to my family, friends or work from this country, then I deem this an uncalled and unjustified surveillance an invasion of my privacy.

Over the past six months I have attempted to follow all the candidates closely through their web sites, televised debates (via the Internet wire services) and YouTube; but really do not have a clear understanding of their feelings on this issue. I am not expecting any direct response from any of these three aforementioned candidates, but would like clarification stated within their respective web sites’.

The video, produced by the ACLU and distributed by iTV presents our two governmental agencies that facilitate the usage of the Patriot Act and how it is implemented to monitor our electronic communications.

Updates 16 & 17 April 09:

U.S. Scales Back Domestic Spying
CBS News from AP

The Justice Department has reined in electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency after finding the agency had improperly accessed American phone calls and e-mails.

FISA Violated
TIME | Posted by Joe Klein

Those of us who supported FISA reform last year did so for two reasons: 1. There is a real need to monitor conversations terrorists may be having with their associates in the US and 2. There is a real need to set legal limits on the government’s ability to monitor those conversations, to make sure that every domestic target is approved by the FISA court, and to make sure that any innocents swept up in the data-mining process are protected and their names expunged from any list of suspects. Those who opposed the program believed–correctly–that, despite the safeguards, the potential for government violations was substantial.

NSA Spies On Americans Outside The Law
American Civil Liberties Union – ACLU

The National Security Agency (NSA) has been intercepting Americans’ emails and phone calls in recent months to an extent that exceeded even the overbroad limits permitted under the controversial spying legislation passed last summer. According to the New York Times, the NSA’s “overcollection” of American’ communications has been “significant and systemic.”


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