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Tag Archives: NSA


Abusing the Patriot Act

Obama Spying Scandalby Jim Sensenbrenner

On Aug. 9, the Obama administration released a previously secret legal interpretation of the Patriot Act that it used to justify the bulk collection of every American’s phone records. The strained reasoning in the 22-page memo won’t survive long in public light, which is itself one of the strongest arguments for transparency in government. As the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”

Recent revelations by the Washington Post emphasize the need for greater transparency. The National Security Agency failed to report privacy violations that are serious infringements of constitutional rights. Beyond these blatant violations, the foundation of the programs is itself illegal. Continue reading


It is Time for Answers from the NSA

Data Protection NSA Spy Scandal
by  John Fund

It’s time to ask tough questions about the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities — even for conservatives who have given the NSA the benefit of every doubt up until now.

The Washington Post opened a can of worms last Friday when it reported that, in 2012, an internal NSA audit found that the agency had violated privacy rules 2,776 times within just one year. The audit counted only violations at NSA’s Washington facilities — nearly 20 other NSA facilities were not included. In the wake of the Post’s report, the NSA insisted that the violations were “inadvertent,” but it failed to explain why it had not shared the report with Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein or other congressional oversight authorities. Continue reading


Revelations hint at NSA ducking oversight

NSA Spy Scandal 10The agency’s approach to collecting data is too easily abused.

Since news broke in June that the government has been seizing millions of Americans’ phone and Internet records, the Obama administration’s defense has rested on three pillars. The collections are needed to prevent terrorist attacks. Internal safeguards protect the public’s privacy. And ultimately, Congress and judges on a special court have Americans’ backs.

Not a bad argument, if it holds up. So far, it hasn’t.


What We Lose if We Give Up Privacy

Privacy RightsA civil libertarian reflects on the dangers of the surveillance state.

by Peggy Noonan

What is privacy? Why should we want to hold onto it? Why is it important, necessary, precious?

Is it just some prissy relic of the pretechnological past?

We talk about this now because of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency revelations, and new fears that we are operating, all of us, within what has become or is becoming a massive surveillance state. They log your calls here, they can listen in, they can read your emails. They keep the data in mammoth machines that contain a huge collection of information about you and yours. This of course is in pursuit of a laudable goal, security in the age of terror.

Is it excessive? It certainly appears to be. Does that matter? Yes. Among other reasons: The end of the expectation that citizens’ communications are and will remain private will probably change us as a people, and a country. Continue reading


The Debate Obama Never Wanted

Governmnet SpyingIn the NSA math, two additions plus one abuse equals a defensive president.

by Major Garrett

Edward Snowden has put words in President Obama’s mouth. Words like transparency, reform, openness, and debate.

This is not necessarily cause for celebration or condemnation. It is, however, a fact. That the White House refuses to acknowledge this is testament to the policy-altering effect of Snowden’s leaks of classified documents about the National Security Agency’s wide-ranging Internet and phone surveillance programs.

In the East Room on Friday, Obama said he always wanted what he is now awkwardly juggling—a national debate on counterterrorism surveillance. This is demonstrably false. Obama did not want this debate, and he has been forced into numerous linguistic contortions in avoiding it. He did not want a debate that forced him to embrace a review panel to examine his administration’s countersurveillance practices and to call for a privacy and civil-liberties advocate before the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that approves surveillance warrants. On Friday, Obama sought to limit the ferocity of the debate by asserting his role as calm, constitutional arbiter of executive power and reform. “I believe that there are steps we can take to give the American people additional confidence that there are additional safeguards against abuse,” he said. Continue reading


NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times every year

Government Spyingby Barton Gellman

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls. Continue reading


The Surveillance Speech: A Low Point in Obama’s Presidency

double-face-obama-63825058778by Conor  Friedersdorf

Last Friday, President Obama spoke to us about surveillance as though we were precocious children. He proceeded as if widespread objections to his policies can be dispatched like a parent answers an eight-year-old who has formally protested her bedtime. He is so proud that we’ve matured enough to take an interest in our civil liberties! Why, he used to think just like us when he was younger, and promises to consider our arguments. But some decisions just have to be made by the grownups. Do we know how much he loves us? Can we even imagine how awful he would feel if anything bad ever happened while it was still his job to ensure our safety?

By observing Obama’s condescension, I don’t mean to suggest tone was the most objectionable part of the speech. The disinformation should bother the American people most. The weasel words. The impossible-to-believe protestations. The factually inaccurate assertions.

They’re all there. Continue reading


Top 13 Questions the Media Should be Asking

mediabiasby Joel B. Pollak

President Barack Obama rarely makes himself available to the mainstream media. They adore him anyway. At rare press conferences, such as the one scheduled for this past Friday at the White House, they lob softball questions or accept his evasive, meandering answers, rarely pressing him for clarity, much less truth. But there are many questions that the president ought to answer, yet which he is unlikely to face at all.

Here is a list of 13 questions, he should answer candidly: Continue reading


Massive Data Mining: Are the programs justified?

NSA data miningAccording to the Obama administration and some members of Congress, the National Security Administration’s (NSA) data mining operations have been critical to the disruption of numerous terror plots. The publicly revealed evidence, though, suggests otherwise.

Najibullah Zazi, an al-Qaida-trained terrorist in Colorado, planned to bomb the subway in New York City in 2009. The administration says PRISM data mining led to Zazi’s arrest. But officials with knowledge of the case told The Guardian newspaper that the email came from British intelligence, not PRISM. Continue reading