By Delinda C. Hanley, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Oct.-Nov. 2013
Many Americans were not surprised by recent revelations, based on documents taken by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, that the NSA is spying on them. The widespread use of undercover agents, informants and surveillance in Muslim-American communities has been well publicized. In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush authorized eavesdropping on domestic telephone, Internet and e-mail communications of Americans and others inside the U.S. without court approval.
Information about Bush’s “Terrorist Surveillance Program” was leaked to USA Today and The New York Times in 2006. Americans learned that telecommunications companies, including AT&T, MCI, Sprint, Verizon and BellSouth, were handing over to the NSA personal and business phone records for tens of millions of Americans. Defending his eavesdropping program, Bush insisted that the NSA was limited only to monitoring international phone and e-mail communications linked to people with connections to al-Qaeda. “In other words,” he explained, “one end of the communication must be outside the United States.” Records of domestic calls—those that originate and terminate within U.S. borders—were believed to be private.
Under U.S. law, the NSA cannot legally target U.S. citizens—although the agency has done precisely that and has been rebuked by federal judges for doing so. The program was criticized and challenged as illegal because the NSA had not obtained warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court. Bush’s program was discontinued in 2007.
According to a stunning series of reports, first published on June 5 by The Guardian, The Washington Post and other media outlets, under President Barack Obama the NSA has continued collecting the phone records of millions of Americans….
The most damaging of all the Snowden revelations was the news that in March 2009—two months after President Obama took office—the NSA agreed to provide all this intelligence data to a foreign country: Israel. As a Sept. 11 Guardian article described it: ”Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the U.S. government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and e-mails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.”…
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