April 15, 2009
NSA "Overcollected" Domestic Communications of Americans
Eric Lichtblau and James Risen just posted an article in the NYT that the National Security Agency intercepted private e-mails and phone calls of Americans in recent months that exceeded the limits set by Congress.
According to the article, the DOJ said that it "detected issues that raised concerns," but that DOJ officials "took comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance" with U.S. law. AG Holder waited for new safeguards before seeking renewal of the program with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
NSA's overreaching included an attempt to eavesdrop on a member of Congress without a warrant.
Allegations of NSA overreaching and abuse are not new. Recall similar allegations in early October 2008. We're unlikely to learn much more about these, though, if the Obama administration has anything to say about it: The administration just last week asserted the State Secrets privilege as the basis of its motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA, the Northern District of California case challenging NSA's "dragnet surveillance" with the cooperation of private telecon operators, showing that it intends to keep NSA surveillance practices secret.
Still, according to Lichtblau and Risen, DOJ has been investigating aspects of the NSA wiretapping program, resulting in at least one accusation of "significant misconduct." And a staffer on one of the congressional intelligence committees said that "we've begun inquiries into it."
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