Lichtblau and Risen Report Illegal Wiretapping of Americans … Again

It’s pretty pathetic that, three years after they first broke the story of the Bush’s illegal wiretap program, Eric Lichtblau and James Risen are still reporting on illegal warrantless wiretapping of Americans.

Their story has two main revelations. First, in preparation for Holder’s first semi-annual certification of the FISA program to the FISC, NSA realized it was not complying with the law.

In recent weeks, the eavesdropping agency notified members of the congressional intelligence committees that it has encountered operational and legal problems in complying with the new wiretapping law, according to congressional officials .

Officials would not discuss details of the over-collection problem because it involves classified intelligence-gathering techniques. But the issue appears focused in part on technical problems in the N.S.A.’s inability at times to distinguish between communications inside the United States and those overseas as it uses its access to American telecommunications companies’ fiber-optic lines and its own spy satellites to intercept millions of calls and e-mails.

One official said that led the agency to inadvertently “target” groups of Americans and collect their domestic communications without proper court authority.

Sort of funny how this illegal collection wasn’t discovered six months ago, while Bush was still in charge, huh?

From the sounds of things, though, this was not just a technical violation–it flouted the few protections included in the FISA Amendment Act for civil liberties (which almost certainly means minimization, because there aren’t many other civil liberties protections in FAA). 

Notified of the problems by the N.S.A., officials with both the House and Senate intelligence committees said they had concerns that the N.S.A. had ignored civil liberties safeguards built into last year’s wiretapping law.

In addition to these ongoing violations of Americans’ privacy, the ongoing Inspector General investigation has discovered more troubling incidents when the warrantless wiretapping program was deliberately used under Bush to target–among other people–a Congressman traveling overseas.

As part of that investigation, a senior F.B.I. agent recently came forward with what the inspector general’s office described as allegations of “significant misconduct” in the surveillance program, people with knowledge of the investigation said. Those allegations are said to involve the question of whether the N.S.A. targeted Americans in eavesdropping operations based on insufficient evidence tying them to terrorism.

And in one previously undisclosed episode, the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant, according to a U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter.

The agency believed that the congressman, whose identity could not be determined, was in contact as part of a congressional delegation to the Middle East in 2005 or 2006 with an extremist who had possible terrorist ties and was already under surveillance, the official said. The agency then sought to eavesdrop on the congressman’s conversations to gather more intelligence, the official said.

The official said the plan was ultimately blocked because of concerns from some officials in the intelligence community about the idea of using the N.S.A., without court oversight, to spy on a member of Congress.

Let’s hope this time around, the knowledge that members of Congress themselves were targets, will spur Congress to fix this once and for all.

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55 replies
  1. JimWhite says:

    Captain Renault to the white courtesy phone, please.

    Let’s hope this time around, the knowledge that members of Congress themselves were targets, will spur Congress to fix this once and for all.

    I hope so, too.

  2. bmaz says:

    … it was believed to be unintentional.

    Sure; it always is unintentional. Except when you recklessly disregard the need for the proper limiting protocols and fail to supply the necessary supervision and regulation, that is really not “unintentional”. They willfully and wantonly created the conditions that permitted this.

    It is not clear to what extent the agency may have actively listened in on conversations or read e-mails of Americans without proper court authority, rather than simply obtain access to them.

    So what is the status of the ill begotten booty? How and where is it stored? Is there an inkling to destroy that which they admittedly should not have (hint: they don’t ever really do this)?

    But the issue appears focused in part on technical problems in the N.S.A.’s inability at times to distinguish between communications inside the United States and those overseas as it uses its access to American telecommunications companies’ fiber-optic lines and its own spy satellites to intercept millions of calls and e-mails.

    Huh, I thought they said they were fully able to do this, and had in fact been doing so since the PAA was jammed down the Congressional throat in August of 2007. Guess that was just a lie. How shocking.

    One official said that led the agency to inadvertently “target” groups of Americans and collect their domestic communications without proper court authority.

    This is fairly interesting. Not a random oversampling, but targeted. Doesn’t sound all that inadvertent. “Reasonably believed to be outside the United States” must mean something different to the NSA than it does to common folk.

    Separate from the new inquries, the Justice Department has been conducting an investigation for more than two years into aspects of the N.S.A.’s warrantless wiretapping program.

    As part of that investigation, a senior F.B.I. agent recently came forward with what the inspector general’s office described as allegations of “significant misconduct” in the surveillance program, people with knowledge of the investigation said. Those allegations are said to involve the question of whether the N.S.A. targeted Americans in eavesdropping operations based on insufficient evidence tying them to terrorism.

    And in one previously undisclosed episode, the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant, according to a U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter.

    Funny, I don’t remember hearing that in the discussion in the run up to the passage of the FAA. I wonder if there were any questions asked on the record back then about surveillance of Congressmen? What investigation are they talking about? Who is conducting it? Why were there no disclosures made of this prior to the PAA and FAA? Are there perjuries and misrepresentations?

    • emptywheel says:

      The investigation is easy (and I referenced it in the post).

      Its Glenn Fine’s investigation, which he started before FAA mandated an IG investigation, but which he is continuing both as part of that and (if I understand correctly) toward doing a discrete report.

      Fine has gotten surprising levels of cooperation from the FBI before (in his torture investigation). So it’s not inconceivable that an FBI agent came forward with this.

  3. bobschacht says:

    No, mon ami, you are bmaz; *I* am Schacht (pronounced “shocked”)!

    Anyway, I think what Eric Lichtblau and James Risen’s reporting shows is that what The Program involves is vacuuming: They’re just vacuuming up ALL communications from every source that pass through a particular communications node (like the infamous room that we can only see the outside of the door) during a particular frame of time. In systems theory terms, the result is a “heap.” The data mining comes later, as one combs through the haystack looking for needles. In other words there is NO filtration of the communication stream. They just snag it all. This means DiFi’s attempts at “minimization” either are ignored, or enter in at the data mining stage where they sift and winnow. However, unlike real thrashing floors, when you sift and winnow communications, you still have the original haystack (help! I’m mixing metaphors!)

    There’s no way this can be legal. The NSA knows it. The Phone company knows it. Heck, even Jello Jay and DiFi may know it. The law isn’t written to say “You only get one pass at the haystack to get what you’re legally allowed to get, and then you have to throw out the haystack”. The law assumes that what you start with is filtered data. Not so.

    Bob in HI

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Of course it’s vacuumed. Read Bamford’s Shadow Factory for the gorey details. Read it & weep.

  4. Leen says:

    “inadvertently”

    Maybe they took care of that “inadvertent” problem by cutting those fiber optic cables near San Francisco.

    I always thought Carl Cameron’s four part report on wiretapping just after 9/11 and just who was involved demonstrated just how “inadvertent” the program was.
    four part report
    http://www.informationclearing…..le7545.htm

    • whitewidow says:

      inadvertently targeted

      What the?

      It sounds like they changed exactly nothing after that tough new FISA law was passed.

  5. Peterr says:

    The agency believed that the congressman, whose identity could not be determined, was in contact as part of a congressional delegation to the Middle East in 2005 or 2006 with an extremist who had possible terrorist ties and was already under surveillance, the official said.

    That part doesn’t sound the least bit inadvertent.

    It does, however, make me wonder if some gunslinger at the NSA was jonesing for a medal from the White House for recording a democratic member of Congress speaking with a possible terrorist.

    • emptywheel says:

      No. None of the earlier stuff was, it sounds like.

      The congressman revelation is eye-popping. But I’m guessing the “significant misconduct” involving other Americans will be far more worrisome, if we ever learn the details.

      Anyone think Vaughn Walker has read this yet? Heh.

      • Peterr says:

        That “significant misconduct” will certainly be more worrisome in the grand scheme of things, but eavesdropping on a member of Congress will make life hell for God knows how long every time a member of the intelligence community comes up to Capitol Hill.

        Especially if they try to say something like “trust us.”

        If Congress screamed bloody murder and took the executive branch to court after the FBI obtained and executed a warrant to search William Jefferson’s office, how do you think they will react to warrantless eavesdropping? To Congress, that is far more significant.

        • BillE says:

          They won’t say much of anything. Probably just a lot of grumbling and some moaning but that’s it. The tapping has already gotten the goods on most of them.

          We are slowly learning on just how many that might be. And Quest CEO Nacchio just went to jail for not doing it. Nice.

          It might sound like tin-foil-hat time. But when you can follow a persons communcications graph in all forms, you’ve got a ton of people by the short ones. Just thinking of all the crap in the financial industry alone, do you think they might just have enough on these guys two blackmail basically anything they want out of them.

  6. Hmmm says:

    …the congressman, whose identity could not be determined…

    Waitaminute. They want us to believe they were able to narrow it down to a Congressman, who was in the Middle East on a date certain, who was in contact with an already-surveilled terrorism suspect… and with all that info they couldn’t even figure out which Congressman it was? Not too plausible. I mean, how many Congressmen are in the ME on any given day? Might they be hiding the identity instead?

    • chrisc says:

      I would be surprised if they did not spy on every single congresscritter who visited Iraq.
      Kind of like recording phone calls for “training purposes” they needed to know how just how convincing the Green Zone tours and Power Point Spin was and if there were any “weaknesses” to correct.

  7. susiedow says:

    re: speculating on the Congressperson

    My first thought was Curt Weldon (R-PA). Even though he was a member of the Armed Services Committee, Weldon was long denied access to intelligence – and bitterly complained about it (it’s in the congressional record). In 2006, FBI were interested in Weldon (blatant nepotism, etc). If you poke around, you’ll discover that Weldon actually met Qadhafi and pinned a medal on his chest at some ceremony of Rev. Moon. He went on to help broker arms deals with Libya and Russia after leaving office, there’s much more….and yes, he made at least one visit to Iraq – with Joe Biden – during the time frame mentioned…
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpoi…..rt_weldon/

    Now I’ve long had an interest Weldon because of his rather excessive interest in promoting ties to Russian business. A distinctly odd choice for someone on the Armed Services Committee. So I may just be jumping to conclusions based on my very limited view.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think Weldon is a pretty good guess–with the added benefit that with him, they actually had to keep in mind they might one day want to use whatever evidence they collected, which makes it more plausible they’d get squeamish over taking it.

  8. lysias says:

    What about Bob Nye’s contacts with Iran? I wonder if the criminal investigation of Nye started with eavesdropping. (Like that of Spitzer seems to have done.)

  9. Mary says:

    3 – “… it was believed to be unintentional”

    Because they were caught. If they hadn’t been caught you’d have seen “believed to be nonexistant”

    The two things that strike are the acknowledgement now that “teh program” involves purely domestic communications and the reference to targeting “groups.” I thought that was an interesting way to put it, that they were *inadvertently* targting “groups of Americans” Targeting whole groups who have what common denominator? Other than that their government commits crimes against them.

  10. Leen says:

    Will never forget how pissed off then Senator Biden, Senator Kerry, Senator Kennedy, Boxer and Lincoln Chaffee (looked deeply concerned) during the John Bolton non nomination hearings. They were so pissed as they demanded once again the NSA intercepts that are alleged to be wiretapping of Colin Powell. I will never forget their faces. I thought they were going to jump over those tables and collectively kick Bolton’s ass.

    The general’s revenge

    Colin Powell, no longer the loyal soldier, rises up to help stop conservative hard-liner John Bolton from becoming U.N. ambassador.

    By Sidney Blumenthal
    http://dir.salon.com/story/opi…..index.html
    “When British Foreign Minister Jack Straw complained to Powell that Bolton was obstructing negotiations with Iran on its development of nuclear weapons, Powell ordered that Bolton be cut out of the process, telling an aide: “Get a different view.” The British also objected to Bolton’s interference in talks with Libya, and again Powell removed Bolton. But much as he may have wanted to, Powell could not dismiss Bolton because of a powerful patron: Vice President Dick Cheney.

    The Bolton confirmation hearings have revealed his constant efforts to undermine Powell on Iran and Iraq, Syria, and North Korea. They have also exposed a most curious incident that has triggered the administration’s stonewall reflex. The Foreign Relations Committee discovered that Bolton made a highly unusual request and gained access to 10 intercepts by the National Security Agency, which monitors worldwide communications, of conversations involving past and present government officials. Whose conversations did Bolton secretly secure and why?

    Staff members on the committee believe that Bolton was likely spying on Powell, his senior advisors, and other officials reporting to the secretary of state on diplomatic initiatives that Bolton opposed. If so, it is also possible that Bolton was sharing this top-secret information with his neoconservative allies in the Pentagon and the vice president’s office, with whom he was in daily contact and well known to be working in league against Powell. If the intercepts are ever released, they may disclose whether Bolton was a key figure in a counterintelligence operation run inside the Bush administration against the secretary of state, resembling the hunted character played by Will Smith in “Enemy of the State.” Both Republican and Democratic senators have demanded that the State Department, which holds the NSA intercepts, turn them over to the committee. But Rice so far has refused. What is she hiding by her coverup?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..13276.html
    John Bolton & NSA Intercepts: The Connection That Mattered Was International

  11. Leen says:

    So who do you think that member of congress was that they allegedly wiretapped is? My vote Jane Harman

  12. Mary says:

    The language used in the member of Congress thing is weird. If the person was under surveillance, then didn’t they know whether or not the target HAD ties to terrorists as opposed to only “possible ties to terrorists” And are they using that definition of terrorists that includes PETA and Quakers?

    But then the really odd part was saying that they only ‘believed’ the Congressman to be in contact (if they were surveilling the other guy, wouldn’t they know that contact had been made vs “believing” there was contact, and their belief was being generated by something other than a known contact from their surveillance that they were required to minimize, then what would it have been?

    The other weird language use is saying that the member of Congress’ contact was somehow a part of what the Congressional delegation was doing in the ME. “… was in contact as part of a congressional delegation to the Middle East” emph added

    I guess it would really have looked ‘odd’ if that member of Congress was someone like, oh, say Russ Feingold who was trying to get the spying law changed and if they contact they were using to try to springboard full blown surveillance of the member of Congress was a contact that was openly being acknowledged by the Congressional delegation as something they were doing as a part of their official trip – like maybe talking to Sunni leaders in Iraq.

    Could be all kinds of things, but the way the fish seems to be frying with references to only “believed to be” in contact and only “possible ties” to terrorists despite full blown surveillance, and especially the contact being somehow a part of the congressional delegation, it sure sounds odd.

    • Peterr says:

      That’s only because it is odd, Mary.

      The qualifiers in that description sounded might strange to me too. Almost as if there was a lawyer involved. Says the lawyer to the client, “When you get called to testify, make sure your response included words like ‘believed to be’ and ‘possible’. If you say something ‘is’, I guarantee that the next question will be ‘How do you know?’ Don’t give them an opening to ask that question.”

      I think someone is practicing their testimony.

    • Nell says:

      with references to only “believed to be” in contact and only “possible ties” to terrorists despite full blown surveillance, and especially the contact being somehow a part of the congressional delegation, it sure sounds odd.

      Doesn’t it. I read it as: surveillance because they wanted to eavesdrop on him/her, and they’re spinning local contacts the Member had as ‘possible ties’ in order to justify it retrospectively. It was nothing of the kind.

      And I’m betting on someone not in the Republian Party, though Weldon is as plausible as anyone else.

  13. i4u2bi says:

    What’s a little blackmail between political enemies. Chaney has all the bases covered anyhoo…whoever they can’t blackmail they simply eliminate, accidently of course.

  14. Mary says:

    “I think someone is practicing their testimony”

    It does, doesn’t it.

    Here’s something else from the Lichtblau/Risen story I found interesting and it goes back to the point I beat to death on the integrity members of DOJ suddenly “found” vis a vis the program — right about the same time the FISCt was about to go after the lawyers directly.

    The article talks about scrutiny on the program coming not just from the DOJ and Congress, but from the FISCt. Then they have this:

    As part of a periodic review of the agency’s activities, the department “detected issues that raised concerns,” … Justice Department officials then “took comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance” with the law and court orders, the statement said. It added that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. went to the national security court to seek a renewal of the surveillance program only after new safeguards were put in place.

    emph added

    I still think they only reason you have anyone in DOJ even half way doing what they should is bc of the FISCt. [That also goes to the exchange phred and I had about how carefully Craig and Holder made sure that they were reported to be in favor of disclosure on the memos – not part of the obstruction of justice camp.]

    And btw – what happened to all the safeguards that supposedly resulted from the Hosptial Showdown and allowed everyone to start signing off with the court then? Where those certifications done in good faith or … never mind.

    • Peterr says:

      Note the agencies cited in Marcy’s last quote:

      As part of that investigation, a senior F.B.I. agent recently came forward with what the inspector general’s office described as allegations of “significant misconduct” in the surveillance program, people with knowledge of the investigation said. Those allegations are said to involve the question of whether the N.S.A. targeted Americans in eavesdropping operations based on insufficient evidence tying them to terrorism.

      A senior FBI agent notices something iffy, and blows the whistle (ever so quietly) on the intelligence community. At best, it is one stand-up person doing what needs to be done; at worst, it is the DOJ pushing back against the intelligence community for the sake of appearances.

      If you’re right about Holder and Craig’s leaks to make themselves appear to be on the side of the FISCt, a cynic might lean toward the latter explanation, thinking that one or both of them might have gone to a sympathetic FBI agent to bring the story out in the way that benefits the DOJ/WH the most.

  15. brendanscalling says:

    oh, it is going to be a baaaaaaaad day at Bob Casey’s office. And Pat Murphy’s office (they were particularly rude and condescending when I called about all of this last year). Oh it is going to be ROUGH for them.

  16. plunger says:

    NSA wiretaps on Congressman explain exactly how blackmail kept Congress in line throughout Bush Administration:

    Blackmail was and remains the #1 method by which Israel and their co-conspirators in Congress, The CFR, AIPAC, etc. control the United States.

    NSA wiretaps ARE Israeli Mossad wiretaps – they are one and the same. Thanks to Israeli Mossad Software installed on NSA surveillance systems, all taps terminate in Tel Aviv.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04…..=1&hp

    http://www.informationclearing…..le7545.htm

    In the unfolding saga of stock-option fraud, few characters are more curious than an Israeli entrepreneur named Jacob “Kobi” Alexander.

    The 54-year-old entrepreneur, who nurtured Comverse Technology from a penny-stock, high-tech wannabe to a leading producer of voice-mail software with 5,000 employees, fled the United States this month rather than face charges of scheming to manipulate stock options.

    Alexander was born in Israel, the son of Zvi Alexander, who is considered the founder of that nation’s meager oil industry. The younger Alexander served in the Israeli military and intelligence services and has spent much of his adult life going back and forth between Israel and the United States.

    By 1984, Alexander was back in the United States, helping launch Comverse on New York’s Long Island. The start-up took off in the 1990s, eventually selling its high-tech wares in more than 120 countries and seizing on niche opportunities, such as digital eavesdropping for law enforcement.

    Indira Singh, an “IT consultant” who previously worked on a Defense Advanced Research Project, and who was employed by J.P. Morgan on 9/11, in risk management, pointed to MITRE’s role at the FAA during the 9/11 Citizens’ Commission hearings in New York last September.

    “Ptech was with MITRE Corporation in the basement of the FAA for two years prior to 9/11,” Singh said. “Their specific job is to look at interoperability issues the FAA had with NORAD and the Air Force in the case of an emergency. If anyone was in a position to know that the FAA – that there was a window of opportunity or to insert software or to change anything – it would have been Ptech along with MITRE.”

    The Mossad-run Guardium company is linked with Ptech through Goff Communications, the Holliston, Mass.-based public relations firm previously run by Michael S. Goff and his wife Marcia, which represents Guardium.

    Amit Yoran was the Israeli “Cyber Security Czar” appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003. Yoran has held various positions since the 1990s in which he oversaw computer security for the Dept. of Defense computers.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      A lot of what you say is also covered in Shadow Factory. Bamford goes into detail on the software links with Israeli companies.

      • plunger says:

        The entire US Government and defense system is 100% compromised by Israeli intelligence, and virtually EVERYONE of any significance working within the government knows it for a fact (as does Obama), and is not only powerless to do anything about it, but won’t even discuss it for fear of reprisals, be they blackmail or death.

        When your partners in crime in the implementation of Poindexter’s “Total Information Awareness” program, false flag operations and related blackmail initiatives turn against you…you wind up with a neutered United States, standing silently by as Israel runs roughshod over the entire Middle East. Iran is next, and nothing will stop them. Whether we appear to bomb Iran or they do it, blackmail is the facilitator that put our nuclear dominance under their control – right down to the targeting information for nuclear all US nuclear warheads, and the launch codes too.

        LESS THAN ONE MONTH AFTER 9/11:

        “Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.”

        – Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio.

        http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/blackmail.html

  17. Margaret says:

    You know of course that their “fix” for this problem will be to make it a felony to wiretap a member of Congress and to hell with the rest of us…

  18. tbau says:

    there’s no evidence of such abuse…

    there’s no evidence it was intentional…

    there’s no evidence it did any harm…

    not forgetting that obama’s positions would treat any such evidence as a state secret.

    spying in politicians across the board, theft of intellectual property and trade secrets (think software/code in development), using privileged info for insider trading, using privileged discussions to influence judicial proceedings, etc. these are but a handful of things that could have been done.

    and that’s the way this issue should have been framed from the beginning in order to get the attention/support of the public. put these abuses in terms of hypotheticals that might have comprised their livelihood and folks snap to attention. the damages would bankrupt the telcos and land their benefactors in prison, which is why obama had to help foreclose that option by voting for telco immunity.

    obama is a vain man, and he should be shamed for these positions, which are intellectually dishonest.

  19. Hugh says:

    That intelligence and law enforcement agencies will abuse their powers is about as hard to predict as day following night.

    We spend something like $70 billion a year on intelligence. But has all that money stopped Somali pirates?

    Was it right about Iraqi WMD?

    Did it help us capture bin Laden?

    Did it prevent 9/11?

    Did it know that both Pakistan and India had the bomb before their nuclear tests?

    Did it predict the fall of the Soviet Union? or the Shah?

    The truth is you would have to go back nearly 50 years to the Cuban Missile Crisis to find an instance where the intelligence community got anything right, and even that was preceded by the disastrous Bay of Pigs fiasco. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once wondered why we had a CIA if it couldn’t catch even the fall of the USSR. I would have to agree about the intelligence community in general. It keeps getting larger, more expensive, and more intrusive yet its track record remains abysmal. We would probably be better protected if we had a smaller more intelligent intelligence effort that dwelt less on the minutiae and more on the big picture.

  20. tjbs says:

    Maybe Obama should drop the false claim of executive privilege hiding the Pat “Triple tap” Tillman file .
    Could be some interesting intercepts or not, let’s just see shall we?

  21. lysias says:

    If the executive branch is using spying through Israel to keep Congress in line, that would explain: (1) congresspeople’s lockstep support of everything Israel wants; and also (2) the executive branch’s curious unwillingness to oppose Israel on anything of substance. But then why wouldn’t the corporocrats who run both parties object?

    On the other hand, if what’s going on is that the corporocrats are using spying through Israel to keep all branches of U.S. government in line, then that explains why everybody goes along.

    • plunger says:

      See who the individuals are who control the US media, and your questions will answer themselves.

  22. brendanx says:

    congressional delegation to the Middle East in 2005 or 2006 with an extremist who had possible terrorist ties

    This would cover any conversation, by any official, with any member of a Middle East faction the eavesdroppers disfavor.

  23. pdaly says:

    “a member of Congress” implies Senator or Representative. I wonder whether Lichtblau and Risen could narrow it down a bit? or is it better to keep it vague and therefore relevant to both parts of Congress.

    the issue appears focused in part on technical problems in the N.S.A.’s inability at times to distinguish between communications inside the United States and those overseas as it uses its access to American telecommunications companies’ fiber-optic lines and its own spy satellites to intercept millions of calls and e-mails.

    I know I’ve heard this technical problem aired before many months ago. Cannot recall whether it was before or after Congress reassured us that protections would be put in place. If NSA cannot “at times” tell whether a call is inside or outside the US (including overseas), then I suppose it is reasonable for the NSA to assume the person could be overseas. And since “reasonableness” is the new standard for search and seizure, the NSA vacuums away. Why it is not equally “reasonable” to assume the overseas person could be in the US and therefore not tappable– I do not know.

  24. Mary says:

    38 – almost as if the job isn’t so much to get things right as to frame whatever print their handlers give them. Almost as if the analysts who got promotions where the ones who called the aluminum tubes completely wrong. Almost as if the “torture to Save Americans” of al-Libi wasn’t targeted to a goal that brought Americans home in boxes and without limbs.

  25. Mary says:

    47 – it seems to come up in particular in connection with emails, that plus the language about targeting “groups” of Americans makes you wonder how much is related to emails. And while they only talk about interception of emails, the omission of any reference to accessing stored emails seems odd. I have to think if they were targeting groups of Americans based off of email intercepts they also accessed stored communications, which isn’t mentioned. But ?? who knows.

    • pdaly says:

      Thanks. Groups could be defined many ways with emails, I suppose: connected via email lists, or by same domain, or same carrier, etc.

  26. stryx says:

    The agency then sought to eavesdrop on the congressman’s conversations to gather more intelligence, the official said….the plan was ultimately blocked because of concerns from some officials

    So did they follow the network or not? If catching one “node” allows you the cover to follow all connecting “nodes,” who else got swept up? Other congressional reps, staff, donors, lobbyists, constituents?

    And their friends, and their friends….

  27. MidnightWalker says:

    Didn’t Clinton say to Monica Lewinsky on a tapped phone conversation, something along the lines of: be careful what you say, a foreign country is listening in?

  28. MidnightWalker says:

    Here it is, I found it…boy, do I have a good memory:

    1998:

    DID THE MOSSAD BUG MONICA (HONEY TRAP) LEWINSKY’S PHONE?

    The New Federalist
    September 21, 1998

    What Was the Mossad Role in the Lewinsky Affair?
    by Edward Spannaus

    Sept. 16 (EIRNS)–According to a little-noticed passage in the Starr Report, during March 1997, President Clinton told Monica Lewinsky that he suspected a foreign embassy was tapping his telephone conversations.

    http://whatreallyhappened.com/…..adbug.html

  29. Smgumby says:

    The key, however, is that they DIDN’T target the congressman. They realized THAT would cross the line.

    Spying on millions of Americans is OK, but only when it starts to target one of their OWN they decide to police themselves.

    Makes me sick.

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