The NSA Domestic Surveillance Lie

By:  Thomas R. Eddlem
The NSA Domestic Surveillance Lie

When accusations of spying on Americans were first leveled at the NSA, the government claimed there was no illicit spying. Then it had to backtrack again and again.

“And so in light of the changed environment where a whole set of questions have been raised, some in the most sensationalized manner possible, where these leaks are released drip by drip, one a week, to kind of maximize attention and see if they can catch us at some imprecision on something.”

— President Obama, August 9, 2013 press conference

President Obama’s unprecedented press conference on NSA surveillance August 9 complained about the journalist/leaker team of Glenn Greenwald from the British newspaper The Guardian and former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, implying that the two were merely trying to draw attention to themselves and bait the administration into admitting something inconsistent with what it said previously, hence giving the pair something else to use to draw even more attention to themselves. However, in chastising the pair’s news releases on the NSA, it was very apparent that Obama’s press conference was a desperate attempt at political damage control, with Obama trying to construct a new, credible lie upon which he could claim that the NSA had never violated the Fourth Amendment or the privacy of Americans.

Widespread surveillance of Americans began shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks under the Bush administration, and received some attention with reporting by the New York Times from 2004-2006. Despite the reporting on NSA surveillance, Bush — and later, Obama — administration personnel issued official denials that the NSA was listening to American citizens’ electronic communications.

We’re not collecting data on American citizens.

The Bush administration, which initiated the denials of spying on Americans, implied that any U.S. surveillance within the country was strictly limited to likely terrorists — people that courts ruled to be dangerous based on the available evidence. President Bush stated on April 20, 2004:

There are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

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