By William Fisher
So they’ll try again later this month, when the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case. Its decision, say the whistleblowers, could define the government’s ability to monitor innocent Americans’ international communications without a warrant.
Binney and Wiebe write, “Our touchstone was the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures and its guarantee that warrants could be issued only with probable cause and against specific targets. Whenever we suspected that an American abroad or someone inside the United States might be involved in terrorism or espionage, we carefully gathered the evidence and presented it to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which meets in secret to protect classified information. Only if that court gave us permission would we monitor an American’s communications.”
- Violates the First (freedom of speech, freedom of the press) and Fourth (against unreasonable searches and seizures) Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
- Invests the National Security Agency with sweeping power to monitor Americans’ international phone calls and emails without a probable cause or warrant requirement, so its effect is to allow the NSA to conduct dragnet surveillance, not just surveillance directed at suspected terrorists and criminals.
- Does not provide for meaningful judicial review or congressional or public oversight.
“Dedication to Open Government” is another principal the NSA says it is committed to. Its web site says, “It is our goal to make NSA/CSS records available to the public in a timely manner and in accordance with applicable laws and policies.”