While Senator Wyden has been banging
the drum about privacy violations committed by the federal government under the FISA Amendments Act for quite some time, the rest of Congress seems perfectly content to stay ignorant
and pretend that there's no possible way that the feds might be abusing the powers that let them spy on nearly anyone without much (if any) oversight. So it's interesting that Wyden was finally able to squeeze out of the Director of National Intelligence an admission that, oh yeah, the feds violated the 4th Amendment
. As covered by the always awesome reporting by Spencer Ackerman at Wired:
The head of the U.S. government’s vast spying apparatus has conceded that recent surveillance efforts on at least one occasion violated the Constitutional prohibitions on unlawful search and seizure.
The admission comes in a letter from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declassifying statements that a top U.S. Senator wished to make public in order to call attention to the government’s 2008 expansion of its key surveillance law.
The letter is embedded below. There are two key admissions in there that are new:
- It is also true that on at least one occasion the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held that some collection carried out pursuant to the Section 702 minimization procedures used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.
- I believe that the government's implementation of Section 702 of FISA has sometimes circumvented the spirit of the law, and on at least one occasion the FISA Court has reached this same conclusion.
Of course, they chose to release this bit of information late on a Friday evening -- exactly the time you release something when you want to bury it. The public should not let this news die. They should be asking their elected officials why they're rushing to re-approve the FAA, and have so far refused to have even the slightest curiosity about what the feds are doing with these powers -- even to the point of claiming that since they've seen no evidence of abuse (not that they've asked for it) they shouldn't assume that there is any. Well, now there's some evidence of abuse. Shouldn't Congress be seeking more information, rather than just rubber stamping a renewal of such powers?