But Obama is the one that wipes his azz with the Constitution, right?
Feds confirm Bush-era e-mail surveillance
By Josh Gerstein
March 18, 2014
The U.S. government has acknowledged that it swept up huge volumes of data from emails in the U.S. for several years without any court approval, based solely on the orders of former President George W. Bush.
In a court filings on Monday, government lawyers said that the Internet program ran in parallel with a program gathering so-called metadata about telephone calls. The counterterrorism efforts operated under presidential authority before a judge approved them in July 2004, said a 2007 court filing made public Monday by the Justice Department (and posted here.)
"After the 9/11 attacks and pursuant to an authorization of the President, [redacted] the NSA [redacted] the bulk collection of non-content information about telephone calls and Internet communications (hereafter 'metadata') activities that enable the NSA to uncover the contacts [redacted] of members or agents of al Qaeda or affiliated terrorist organizations," a senior NSA official wrote in an October 2007 declaration originally filed under seal as part of an effort to defeat litigation about the snooping Bush ordered.
"Specifically, the President authorized the the NSA to collect metadata related to Internet communications for the purpose of conducting targeted analysis to track Al Qaeda-related networks. Internet metadata is header/router/addressing information, such as the 'to,' 'from,' 'cc,' and 'bcc' lines, as opposed to the body or 're' lines, of a standard e-mail. Since July 2004, the collection of Internet metadata has been conducted pursuant to an Order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," the still-unidentified official from NSA's Signals Intelligence Directorate continued.
The email program was effectively public since June of last year, after contractor Edward Snowden leaked a top-secret National Security Agency inspector general report that described the program.
Early press reports on the surveillance, such as The New York Times's groundbreaking account in December 2005, discussed its application to emails. However, when Bush publicly acknowledged the surveillance in 2006, he was vague about the details and did not mention gathering of email data.
FISC Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's opinion approving the surveillance was officially released in November 2013. However, the date she issued it was redacted. Many surmised that her opinion followed a dust-up in March 2004, when then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey questioned the legality of some aspect of Bush's post-9/11 surveillance programs and refused to reauthorize that portion of the surveillance. Comey's refusal is said to have put the program into turmoil for a period of months, until officials sought and won the order from Kollar-Kotelly blessing the gathering of both the email and telephone metadata.
The publicly released version of Kollar-Kotelly's opinion does not discuss the operation of the program during the period before the application for court approval.
The filings Monday came in continuing legal wrangling over obligations pending lawsuits may create for the NSA to hang on to aging metadata that it would ordinarily have been required to erase under FISC orders. A federal judge in San Francisco has required that the NSA preserve that data, at least for now, rather than erasing it.
Read more about: Surveillance, George W. Bush, Internet, Email, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court