Friday, October 26, 2012

NSA: We Will Illegally Spy on Citizens Only When Absolutely Necessary

The National Security Agency (NSA) says Americans should trust them to use their surveillance powers only for good. This from the group whose leader refused to say how many Americans they are spying on because it was “beyond the capacity of his office and dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission.”

In other words, the NSA is too busy illegally recording our private emails, texts, Facebook posts, and phone calls to figure out how many of us are already caught in their net. And, furthermore, there is nothing Congress can do about it.

Apparently, NSA thinks it’s beyond the court’s oversight, as well.

In a motion to dismiss a class action suit challenging the nearly unlimited scope of the domestic surveillance agency’s monitoring of citizens’ electronic communication, attorneys for the Obama administration argued that it would use the authority granted it under the Terrorist Surveillance Program only when “absolutely necessary” and that disclosing the information requested would require it to reveal protected state secrets.

The plaintiffs in the case — Jewel v. NSA — are a group of AT&T customers who accuse the NSA, former President George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney among others of illegally using “a shadow network of surveillance devices … to acquire the content of a significant portion of phone calls, emails, instant messages, text messages, web communications, and other communications.”

Originally filed in 2008 by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on behalf of the plaintiffs, the suit “is aimed at ending the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and holding accountable the government officials who illegally authorized it.”

On January 21, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker granted a motion to dismiss filed by the Obama administration. Upon appeal, however, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 29, 2011 overturned the lower court’s decision and remanded the case to district court for a hearing on the merits.

In July, 2012, EFF moved to have the court declare that the Federal Information Security Amendments Act (FISA) applies instead of the state secrets privilege; in response, NSA reaffirmed its “state secrets” defense.

NSA’s attorneys in their motion claimed that disclosing the requested information would threaten the security of the United States.

“This lawsuit puts at issue alleged intelligence activities of the National Security Agency (’NSA’) purportedly undertaken pursuant to presidential authorization since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” the NSA says in its response.

Full article: http://www.thenewame … absolutely-necessary

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