For me, one word is key to understanding the following paragraph, a new investigative report from Ryan Gallagher at The Intercept about a spying tool called ICReach:
“The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.”
It’s the fifth word, the word is.
The NSA is giving 23 different U.S. government agencies open and easy access to private data about Americans’ personal electronic communications that has been seized without any search warrant, or even any notice to the people who are being spied upon. This isn’t something that the NSA was doing, before Barack Obama became President, or before Obama promised to reform NSA surveillance of Americans. It’s something going on right now, and there are no plans in place by anyone in Congress or the White House, Democrat or Republican, to put a stop to it.
After The Intercept broke this story, the NSA admitted that this search engine exists, but justified its use, without search warrants, because the “targets” of the spying are foreign, rather than people in the United States. In a narrow sense, that’s true. What the NSA didn’t own up to, however, is that The Intercept discovered that the personal communications of millions upon millions of Americans living within US borders, who are not suspected of any wrongdoing, are also pulled into the NSA surveillance search engine. While they were never targets of any criminal investigation, and are not in any sense foreign, the private communications of these Americans is nonetheless made easily searchable to people from 23 federal government agencies.
Democrats, when you receive phone calls and emails requesting financial donations in the few weeks left before this year’s congressional elections, take a minute to pause and reflect: Is this kind of warrantless searching through Americans’ private communications by the government the kind of change you were hoping for the last time you voted? If you care about the integrity of your Fourth Amendment right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure, talk back to the candidates running in your district. Ask the people from each campaign what specific plans they have for putting an end to unconstitutional government electronic spying against Americans.
If a candidate doesn’t have a specific plan, that candidate doesn’t deserve your vote.