web analytics
March 27, 2015 / 7 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Government Snooping

The unauthorized release last week of the text of a four-page order issued by a federal judge sitting on the special FISA national security court has unleashed a torrent of controversy over possible governmental overreaching.

The FISA court was established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to evaluate surveillance requests by the federal government; the order in question, issued at the behest of the FBI, directed Verizon Business Network Services to turn over “on an ongoing daily basis” to the National Security Agency all call logs “between the United States and abroad” or “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”

Apparently the order is silent as to whether it applies to the actual content of the communications. And it was unclear as to whether similar orders applied to other telecommunications carriers, though it seems highly likely. The confusion is heightened by the fact that the order itself prohibits any recipient from discussing its existence, and so representatives of Verizon and other telecommunications carriers refused to comment to reporters.

The release of the order led to disclosures that under the so-called Prism program the NSA has also secretly acquired the phone records of millions of Americans and access to e-mails, videos and other data of foreigners from nine U.S. Internet companies, even when they involve American citizens.

Simply put, it now appears likely that federal authorities routinely collect information on virtually all communications on the part of Americans, whether or not they are connected to a national security investigation.

President Obama has attempted to tamp town the ensuing furor by acknowledging the intrusions on the privacy of Americans but characterizing them as “modest encroachments” that “were worth doing” in order to protect the country, characterizing them as a necessary “tradeoff.”

He also said the NSA telephone surveillance program collects phone numbers and the duration of calls but not the content and insisted that the Internet surveillance program targets only foreigners living abroad, not Americans.

Just the same, what would have seemed like hair-raising science fiction only a few years ago has become the reality we now live with.

As New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau put it, “a revolution in software technology that allows for the highly automated and instantaneous analysis of enormous volumes of digital information has transformed the NSA, turning it into the virtual landlord of the digital assets of Americans and foreigners alike. The new technology has, for the first time, given America’s spies the ability to track the activities and movements of people almost anywhere in the world without actually watching them or listening to their conversations.”

It is still far too early to come to any real conclusions about what the Obama administration has been up to here. The likelihood is that at worst it is extending what was already being done during the Bush administration. But the secrecy shrouding the issue will make it difficult if not impossible to get at the truth. As noted, companies receiving a FISA order are barred from discussing it. Moreover, the FISA court does not release the text of its decisions implementing the language of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. So we are governed by the secret applications of a law we are not permitted to review.

There are, however, some possible concerns apparent even now. It was an article of faith that J. Edgar Hoover was able to stay on as director of the FBI for nearly half a century largely because he maintained secret files – all right, dirt – on politicians. It is not hard to envision elected officials and bureaucratic hacks gaining access to the unimaginable amount of information now under the jurisdiction of the executive branch and using it to intimidate political opponents in a Hoover-like manner.

In addition, our criminal justice system does not allow for the introduction of evidence secured through an unlawful search. That is, there must be a warrant based on a prosecutorial claim of probable cause that a specific crime was or is about to be committed. It seems this requirement may well become a relic of the past as the legal and routine scooping up of vast stores of information will make virtually all evidence presumptively admissible.

Finally, part of what has made America great is the notion that Americans have the right to be left alone and not find themselves in the government’s cross hairs unless they do something to draw attention to themselves. We may be on the cusp of a very different reality.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Government Snooping”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Iran's nuclear enrichment facility at Fordow is in an underground bunker.
Congressmembers: No More Money for Talks With Iran
Latest Indepth Stories
Safran-032715

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Gerstenfeld-032715

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Bibi0303.jpg

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

In any event, Mr. Netanyahu after the election sought to soften his statement on Palestinian statehood and apologized for what he conceded were remarks that “offended some Israeli citizens and offended members of the Israeli Arab community.”

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

There is something quite distinctive about the biblical approach to time.

The Waqf kept control of the Temple Mount due to Dayan’s “magnanimity in victory” after 6 Day war

The event promotes “1 state” solution (end of Israel as a Jewish State), BDS, lawfare against Israel

I rescued you?! You’re doing me a favor letting me help you!

“Tzedakah tatzil mi-mavet: Charity saves from death”; No death & a tax break? Where do I sign up?

InsideIL targets MBA students at 12 of America’s top programs for its paid Israel summer internship

More Articles from Editorial Board

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

If nothing really changes in the hearts and minds of the Palestinians, is Israel obligated to provide them and its other adversaries launching pads for attacks?

The United States placed enormous pressure on Israel to relinquish its gains, which Prime Minister Ben-Gurion did with great reluctance.

The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.

Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.

Gone are the days when an anchorman sitting in a New York studio could, after sharing 22 minutes of carefully selected and edited news items, trumpet in stentorian tones, “And that’s the way it is.” No it wasn’t. It never was.

President Obama has frequently cautioned that Americans should take great care to avoid fomenting anti-Muslim passions in our reaction to the murderous activities regularly being perpetrated by terrorists in the name of Islam. One wonders why, though, he seems to have no concern with the potential for anti-Semitic fallout from his full-court press against Israeli […]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/government-snooping/2013/06/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: