Top secret documents released by former NSA subcontractor Edward Snowden reveal that the United States has what the Washington Post described in a June 30 exposé as “broad no-spying arrangements” with the governments of four nations: Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. With the United States, this select group is known collectively as the Five Eyes.
As of 2010, the new cache discloses, those restrictions have been loosened by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (the so-called FISA Court). Under the more liberal guidelines given the green light by the secret court, NSA can “intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets but any communications about its targets as well.”
It’s no wonder the Obama administration considers the “War on Terror” to be a global operation, given that the Snowden revelations indicate that the NSA has marked 193 countries whose communications are of vital national interest.
Beyond the foreign countries targeted for NSA surveillance, the Washington Post reports that the agency asked for and received permission to collect communications to and from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
While the Washington Post points out that the NSA isn’t necessarily exercising the immense authority granted to it by the FISA Court, that is immaterial. It is anathema to the principles of limited government and personal liberty upon which this Republic is founded for any department of the federal government to possess power to deprive potentially millions of people of their right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
There is an aspect of the Post’s latest Snowden disclosure that is being overlooked or dismissed by most mainstream news outlets: namely, that the FISA Court has determined that Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act grants the NSA power to cast this massive international surveillance dragnet.
Of course, most people are not surprised to learn that the NSA is spying on nearly every country in the world. That’s not the point, though.
For over a year now, various representatives of the federal surveillance apparatus have sworn that Section 702 contained certificates of surveillance in only three distinct areas: counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and cybersecurity. As of Monday’s revelations, however, we now know that these officials have been lying.
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