NSA Claims Broad Authority to Monitor Americans' International Calls and Emails

Agency Retains Purely Domestic Communications Without Warrants, Documents Show

June 20, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – The government is engaged in warrantless surveillance of innocent Americans' international communications, according to secret FISA Court documents released today by The Guardian. Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director, made the following comments about the latest revelations:

"After Congress enacted the FISA Amendments Act in 2008, we worried that the NSA would use the new authority to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans' telephone calls and emails. These documents confirm many of our worst fears. The 'targeting' procedures indicate that the NSA is engaged in broad surveillance of Americans' international communications.

"The 'minimization' procedures that supposedly protect Americans' constitutional rights turn out to be far weaker than we imagined they could be. For example, the NSA claims the authority to collect and disseminate attorney-client communications – and even, in some circumstances, to turn them over to Justice Department prosecutors. The government also claims the authority to retain Americans' purely domestic communications in certain situations."

ACLU Staff Attorney Alex Abdo said:

"Collectively, these documents show indisputably that the legal framework under which the NSA operates is far too feeble, that existing oversight mechanisms are ineffective, and that the government's surveillance policies now present a serious and ongoing threat to our constitutional rights. The release of these documents will help inform a crucial public debate that should have taken place years ago."

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