We have recently learned that another potential violation affecting the rights of U.S. citizens has been uncovered.
National Security Agency has been granted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authority to collect millions of customers' telephone calls and e-mails for a three-month period. The president authorized this and reported that conversations or content of e-mails are not being monitored.
FISA was established in 1978 and has very explicit parameters that must be presented for approval by a top secret court, which is presided over by a group of federal judges.
The affidavits supporting the surveillance techniques and purpose of the surveillance must meet very explicit parameters in order to not violate the 4th amendment. The FISA court also required a time constrain on how long the order is in effect.
The subjects under surveillance are usually foreign agents or an agent of a foreign power or a U.S. citizen if he is believed to be involved in the commission of a crime. Information that is collected or activity observed during the time frame that the FISA authority is in effect can only be used if that activity is explicitly outlined in the court order. Any other potential criminal behavior or activity must be discarded.
If NSA is using a vacuum cleaner approach to collect 3 billion telephone calls and e-mails every day, it seems to me that without being specific to what they are looking for violates the intent of the FISA court order. If, as stated, that data mining of phone numbers and e-mail addresses are the objectives without listening or reading e-mails, I just hope the Justice Department is not the one monitoring compliance.
William D. Coulson