Firstly, it absolutely is precedented. Anyone who pays careful attention to the “doings” of the National Security Agency knows that any communication which is off United States ground involving non-U.S. citizens is captured and available for taking, storing, analyzing, and reporting to F.B.I. and C.I.A. and the other Spy Alphabet Soup (military and etc.). What is not so well known, is that if the communication (land lines, faxes, emails, cell phones, VoIP or other electronic device) is by a U.S. citizen, then the name of that person(s) may not be kept in file for more than a year. Nor, can it be revealed to the F.B.I. or the C.I.A or other Alphabet unless criminal activity is evidenced.
The only piece of the intelligence-gathering operation acknowledged by the Bush
White House was the wiretapping-without-warrants effort. The administration
acknowledged in 2005 that it had allowed the National Security Agency to
intercept international communications that passed through U.S. cables without
seeking court orders.
They don’t have to seek a court order. It has already been approved by Congress. It is what the N.S.A. does every day.
Although the report documents Bush administration policies, its fallout could be
a problem for the Obama administration if it inherited any or all of the
Give me a flipping break!
The N.S.A. was given authority by Congress back in 2000 to revamp its technology and in 2001 to gather both domestic and foreign intelligence because of the danger of terrorism.
What most of the lawmakers don’t realize is that this absolutely 50,000 ton elephant is too big to analyze. I won't even go into how huge the capability of our NSA's electronic surveillance. However, it is along the lines of the entire contents of the Library of Congress on an hourlyl basis. BUT... All the communications which deal with Aunt Mattie and her two dozen cats, Junior’s school grades and all the other mundane daily activities of the average American Citizen are filtered out before the communication is even recorded. The watchwords, which are varied and number in the thousands (because of all the different foreign languages in the world and all the different technologies) are what causes the click to begin recording. After an initial analysis, the recording may or may not be stored for a year or forever depending upon the context, if persons are named, if one of the conversants is a U.S. Citizen or is a legal, green card holding immigrant. Yes, green-carders are treated as U.S. citizens.
Another interesting fact is that if are trying to purchase uranium in rather large amounts, or if you are trying to purchase a missile from Russia while living in Iran even though a U.S. citizen, then that is probably cause and you'll be monitored. If you bandy about terms like C802 or use bombing and federal within a few minutes of each other, then you'll be monitored and your mode of communication will be flagged. Now why does that make me feel safer?
So, my advice to all of Congress and to other regular, law abiding citizens is: Don’t panic and unwad your underwear. If you are not a criminal, if you don’t have anything to hide, then you have nothing to fear because your conversations are not interesting enough to be monitored much less be recorded. Your privacy is intact and will remain so.
If we had had this back in 1993 when Timothy McVey had the terrorist idea to bomb the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, then 168 lives would never have been lost.
If you need confirmation of all this, there are several books written about our National Security and you can purchase them from Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble or other bookstores.