I am not a lawyer, but I’m pretty damned sure this is unconstitutional:
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”
If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.
Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA’s formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.
Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, Nadler’s disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.
The disclosure appears to confirm some of the allegations made by Edward Snowden, a former NSA infrastructure analyst who leaked classified documents to the Guardian. Snowden said in a video interview that, while not all NSA analysts had this ability, he could from Hawaii “wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president.”
Perhaps now Dianne Feinstein, who is an ever-present wet rag on the flame of civil liberties in this country, can do some serious ‘splainin’ about how this is perfectly fine.
And you, too, Barack Obama. You are a lawyer, and should know better. Plus, you said when this all broke that “no one is listening to your phone calls.”
And, as a handy guide for those of you covering this in our corporate media, here is Mutant Poodle’s guide (on a scale of 1-10) to the relative scandal-worthiness of of three recent imbroglios, now that we have this information from Representative Nadler:
If anyone is looking for a good way to motivate Senators and Congresscritters on both sides of the aisle to put a stop to this, simply point out that any NSA analyst could record all their calls with donors, say, or the people who run non-coordinated superpacs.
Come to think of it, I’d almost be willing to put up with this if all of those calls were recorded and transcripts published daily.
And, in closing, I’d like to echo an epic John Cole rant:
No, you want to see the villain, look in the mirror. It’s the pants-wetting populace of the United States, who votes for these assholes who pass bad laws in moments of crisis, because we have to do something and because Americans, unlike every other nation in the world, have a god given right to be safe at all times from all things.
Fuck you all. The only thing that might save this country from a couple more weeks of this partisan bullshit obscuring important issues is maybe we’ll get lucky and a cute young blonde girl will get kidnapped and we can move on to something else.