As you may recall, last March, months before the recent bombshell allegations of domestic spying were made by 29-year old NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, in sworn testimony before a Senate subcommittee, stated that the NSA does not “wittingly” collect any data at all on American citizens.
Here’s video of the very nervous looking Clapper responding to the questions of Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon).
And it seemed as though people bought it… at least for a while. Then, of course, Snowden began releasing his classified government documents from Hong Kong, where he’d run to avoid prosecution. And the company line began to dissolve… So much so that, on Friday, June 7, President Obama had to assure the American people that they weren’t being spied on. “Nobody,” the President said in his address, is listening to your phone calls.”
And, on June 12, this position was reiterated by NSA Director Keith Alexander, who stated before the Senate Appropriations Committee not only that his organization didn’t eavesdrop on the calls and emails of American citizens, but that they lacked the ability to do so even if they wanted to. Following is the exchange between Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), and General Alexander. (You’ll find it at the 1:29:46 mark of the video linked to above.)
COLLINS: “I saw an interview in which Mr. Snowden claimed that, due to his position at NSA, he could tap into virtually any American’s phone calls or emails. (Is that) true of false?”
ALEXANDER: “False. I know of no way to do that.”
Well, I’m not sure what the consequences of perjury are, but, if I were Alexander or Clapper, I’d be lawyering up right now… especially given yesterday’s most recent, post-Snowden revelation, which you can read all about in the following clip from CNET.
The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.
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”…
As we initiated impeachment proceedings against a president for failing to report a blowjob, one imagines that charges will be brought immediately against these men for lying under oath about something as serious as the warrantless monitoring of millions of Americans, right?
And, of course, I’m being facetious. I’ve lived here long enough to know that, in this country, single ejaculatory episodes between consenting adults are more a threat to our sovereignty than something as insignificant as a warrantless wiretap. Because, really, who gets hurt if a few hundred million of our calls are logged, and a small army of private security consultants have access to our email accounts? It’s not like they’ll discover that we’re guilty of thoughtcrime or something…
And, after all, the Constitution is “just a piece of paper.”