Watchdog: Feds Illegally Spied on Americans

Electronic Frontier Foundation sues for documents to prove it
By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2012 2:10 PM CDT
Watchdog: Feds Illegally Spied on Americans
In this April 14, 2011, file photo, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., speaks to reporters after leaving the floor of the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

A watchdog agency is suing for the release of documents it says show the feds violated their own 2008 wiretapping law. The suit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation is based on statements made by Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, reports Wired. Wyden didn't say exactly how the government violated the law, which is why the EFF is now suing for further information. Wyden did, however, say that he believes the government sometimes "circumvented the spirit of the law," and he added that "on at least one occasion" a secret court known as Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is required to sign off on such wiretappings, agreed with him.

"In short, Wyden is trying to say that the NSA has found a way to collect a ton of information on Americans and sift through it in a way that he considers to be illegal," writes David Kravets. The law in question, George W. Bush's controversial FISA Amendments Act, allows the government to screen the calls and emails of US citizens, without a warrant, who are suspected of communicating with terrorists. The act expires at the end of this year, but House and Senate committees are working to reinstate it for up to five years. (More National Security Agency stories.)

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