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Intelligence officials finally admit to unconstitutional wiretapping

Telephone wires

When the Patriot Act was first enacted under the Bush administration, there was serious outrage over the lengths to which citizens constitutional rights were violated. This same violation of privacy and desecration of the fourth amendment continues under the Obama administration to a vast extent. The Electronic Freedom Foundation reports on a recent confession by intelligence officials publicly confirming that unconstitutional wiretapping has been occurring:

As Congress and the President rush to re-authorize the dangerous FISA Amendments Act (FAA)—the law shamefully passed after pressure to legalize certain portions of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program—EFF has been sounding the alarm that Americans’ communications arestill being unconstitutionally collected by the government without a warrant. On Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, (DNI) begrudgingly agreed, acknowledging that, “on at least one occasion” the secret FISA court “held that some collection…used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

In a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the DNI declassified three statements at the request of the Senator, one of which indicated that the FISA Court agreed with Wyden that the government had “circumvented the spirit of the law.” Wired called it a “federal sidestep of a major section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” and the Wall Street Journal confirmed it“represented the first time the government has acknowledged U.S. spy activities violated the constitution since the passage of” the FAA in 2008.

And remember, the declassified statement says “on at least one occasion” so there very likely could be more.  Previously, the NSA told Sen. Wyden it was not possible to count the number of Americans affected by FAA surveillance. Rather unbelievably, the NSA also stated that even a general estimate of how many people the NSA had spied on would somehow violate the privacy of those same Americans.

Congress may be able to ignore reports in the media that the NSA is still collecting Americans’ emails, but it should not ignore the admission from the DNI itself. Congress must now drastically overhaul this law to prevent further abuses of the Constitution or vote down entirely.

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