Tuesday, February 5, 2008

NSA Seeks Legalization Of Currently Active Nationwide Spying

Sen. Rockefeller Lets Slip the Spying Truth: Drift Nets To Be Legalized
By Ryan Singel

In a Senate floor speech, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) inadvertently made plain that the proposed changes to the nation's spying laws radically expand how the government wiretaps inside the United States. Rockefeller was decrying an amendment that would require the government to discard non-emergency evidence if a court later finds that the spying methods violate the law.

Rockefeller makes clear that the impending changes to the law aren't about making it easier for the National Security Agency to listen in on a particular terrorism suspect's phone calls. Instead, the changes are about letting the nation's spooks secretly and unilaterally install filters inside America's phone and internet infrastructure.

Rockefeller, the chief Democratic architect of the changes, explains:

"Unlike traditional [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] application orders which involve collection on one individual target, the new FISA provisions create a system of collection. The courts role in this system of collection is not to consider probable cause on individual targets but to ensure that procedures used to collect intelligence are adequate. The courts' determination of the adequacy of procedures therefore impacts all electronic communications gathered under the new mechanisms, even if it involves thousands of targets."

In short, the changes legalize Room 641A, the secret spying room inside AT&T's San Francisco internet switching center that was outed by former AT&T employee Mark Klein. That room sits at the center of a lawsuit against AT&T for its alleged illegal participation in the government's secret, warrantless spying program.

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