If George Bush Can Close NSA’s Back Door Loophole, Why Can’t Barack Obama?

As per usual, there was a tidbit of news in Ron Wyden’s questions at yesterday’s hearing on the USA Freedumber.

He revealed that the back door loophole was closed during the Bush Administration.

Let me start by talking about the fact that the House bill does not ban warrantless searches for Americans’ emails. And here, particularly, I want to get into this with you, Mr. Ledgett if I might. We’re talking of course about the backdoor search loophole, section 702 of the FISA statute. This allows NSA in effect to look through this giant pile of communications that are collected under 702 and deliberately conduct warrantless searches for the communications of individual Americans.  This loophole was closed during the Bush Administration, but it was reopened in 2011, and a few months ago the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged in a letter to me that the searches are ongoing today. [my emphasis]

I’m not sure precisely what he’s talking about, though I assume either the transition from the illegal program to Protect America Act, or the transition from PAA to FISA Amendments Act, removed NSA’s ability to conduct back door searches. Reading between the redactions in John Bates’ October 3, 2011 opinion, FBI apparently has had the authority to do back door searches on both traditional FISA and warrantless collection from 2008, so from the beginning of FAA.

But from what Wyden said, the NSA had the ability to do back door searches, lost it, and now has it again.

I’d sure like to know more about what happened to lead people to believe NSA should have that authority taken away from it.

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5 Responses to If George Bush Can Close NSA’s Back Door Loophole, Why Can’t Barack Obama?

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel (The reason is bc Mitch would rather play chicken to expand surveillance--has been plan all along. Guess surveillance is just power?)
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emptywheel Sounds like Mitch McConnell has conceded he has failed to meet 1st national security deadline of his Leadership. Why can't GOP keep us safe?
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bmaz This is just insane, Katherine Forrest is out of her mind. https://t.co/7tG8PKWfXm
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bmaz @CabouJ No, seriously, thank you for this work. Forfeiture cases drove me so nuts I quit doing them. Am glad for the progress.
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bmaz RT @jeremyscahill: We just published a major exposé: "Death and Neglect at the Rikers Island Women’s Jail:" http://t.co/CD5S52PDRx
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bmaz @JHWeissmann The world is our jurisdiction! But someday, another country will pull the same gambit on us. And all hell will break loose.
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emptywheel Wouldn't even take the mockery of Jesus. Just the bodies and weapons would be enough. https://t.co/oirSwoBH2T
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emptywheel RT @JerryMander: @emptywheel its not a fantasy, its satire about gender stereotypes in the 70's
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JimWhiteGNV RT @GatorZoneScott: Great catch by #Gators OF Buddy Reed earlier…great shot by @RobFoldyPhoto#Gators up 11-0, T7th http://t.co/BJfkBEyoMH
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bmaz @JHWeissmann Ort Miami where the actual soccer people are office? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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bmaz @JHWeissmann Here seems to be the core (including honest services) http://t.co/WRZo7xLApp
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emptywheel Man, whoever leaked rape-fantasy essay from Sanders on weekend everyone dug into Hastert's wrestling molestation news timed things badly.
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