Email Surveillance in U.S.
Posted by repplinger
The New York Times had done a great job of reporting on the phone and email surveillance within the United States by the National Security Agency (NSA). These activities potentially invade the privacy of thousands to hundreds of thousands of individuals without the permission of a court order. The New York Times gave an update on the Congressional investigation into what extent the NSA has been monitoring civilian conversations within the U.S. and abroad, and it looks like the surveillance has been happening to a much larger extent that was previously thought and acknowledged.
From previous news reports by ABC, NBC and other major news media, we know that the previous Administration allowed for surveillance of “drug activity” (which was loosely defined) and terrorism (also loosely defined). However, the Bush Administration had pushed for greater flexibility to monitor the flow of personal communication. The following article also mentions the existence and continued use of a secret database code-named Pinwale that collects, archives, and sifts through the phone & email communication of individuals.
Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency’s ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation…
Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, has been investigating the incidents and said he had become increasingly troubled by the agency’s handling of domestic communications.
In an interview, Mr. Holt disputed assertions by Justice Department and national security officials that the overcollection was inadvertent.
“Some actions are so flagrant that they can’t be accidental,” Mr. Holt said…
“Say you get an order to monitor a block of 1,000 e-mail addresses at a big corporation, and instead of just monitoring those, the N.S.A. also monitors another block of 1,000 e-mail addresses at that corporation,” one senior intelligence official said. “That is the kind of problem they had.”
Overcollection on that scale could lead to a significant number of privacy invasions of American citizens, officials acknowledge, setting off the concerns among lawmakers and on the secret FISA court.