In a rare admission that has gone almost completely unreported, the Director of National Intelligence has admitted that the National Security Agency violated the US constitution and abused its power by spying on American citizens and monitoring their communications.
The admission was made in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, released late on Friday, seemingly in an attempt to bury the story and avoid a media frenzy. Spencer Ackerman at Wired reports:
The head of the U.S. government’s vast spying apparatus has conceded that recent surveillance efforts on at least one occasion violated the Constitutional prohibitions on unlawful search and seizure.
The admission comes in a letter from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declassifying statements that a top U.S. Senator wished to make public in order to call attention to the government’s 2008 expansion of its key surveillance law.
The letter, embedded below, contains two key admissions, described by Wyden:
It is also true that on at least one occasion the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held that some collection carried out pursuant to the Section 702 minimization procedures used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.
I believe that the government’s implementation of Section 702 of FISA has sometimes circumvented the spirit of the law, and on at least one occasion the FISA Court has reached this same conclusion.
Ackerman notes that “Minimization” refers to how long the government may retain the surveillance data it collects.
Following the publication of the letter, Wyden released a statement saying “I applaud the DNI for agreeing that transparency should prevail in this situation… I believe that protections for Americans’ privacy need to be strengthened, and I believe that the FISA Court’s rulings help illustrate why this is necessary. I look forward to debating this issue on the Senate floor.”
Following the admission, the Electronic Privacy Information Center reports:
The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would established new safeguards for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act. The Act provides for court approval of ‘programs of surveillance’ that allow for the collection of communications of US citizens. The bill, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), would renew the Act but also establish new reporting requirements to improve government accountability.
Last month The DNI refused to provide details on the NSA’s clandestine domestic spying program, suggesting that to do so would violate the privacy of Americans.
Senators Wyden and Senator Mark Udall of the intelligence oversight committee had repeatedly asked the NSA to divulge how many innocent Americans have had their communications monitored under the expanded Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, counterterrorism powers put into place four years ago.
Kinda like this by Terence P. Jeffrey:
Since Jan. 1 of this year, according to congressional testimony presented Thursday by the Government Accountability Office, the Federal Aviation Administration has authorized 106 federal, state and local government “entities” to fly “unmanned aircraft systems,” also known as drones, within U.S. airspace.
“We are now on the edge of a new horizon: using unmanned aerial systems within the homeland,” House Homeland Security Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Michael McCaul (R.-Texas) said as he introduced the testimony.
“Currently,” said McCaul, “there are about 200 active Certificates of Authorization issued by the Federal Aviation Administration to over 100 different entities, such as law enforcement departments and academic institutions, to fly drones domestically.”
Read article & see video: At his panel’s Thursday hearing, McCaul showed a map of the United States with markers indicating the locations where–as of April–government entities had been approved by the FAA to fly drones.
By Steve Watson Released letter late Friday to avoid media scrutiny