The office of Senator Ron Wyden issued the following on the illegal spying:
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who serve on the U.S. Senate Select Committee
on Intelligence, issued the following statement following revelations
that the National Security Agency has been exploiting a loophole in the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to search for Americans' private
"It is now clear to the public that the list of ongoing intrusive
surveillance practices by the NSA includes not only bulk collection of
Americans' phone records, but also warrantless searches of the content
of Americans' personal communications,"* Wyden and Udall said. "This
is unacceptable. It raises serious constitutional questions, and poses a
real threat to the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans. If a
government agency thinks that a particular American is engaged in
terrorism or espionage, the Fourth Amendment requires that the
government secure a warrant or emergency authorization before monitoring
his or her communications. This fact should be beyond dispute.
"Senior officials have sometimes suggested that government
agencies do not deliberately read Americans’ emails, monitor their
online activity or listen to their phone calls without a
warrant. However, the facts show that those suggestions were misleading,
and that intelligence agencies have indeed conducted warrantless
searches for Americans’ communications using the 'back-door search'
loophole in section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act. Today’s admission by the Director of National Intelligence is
further proof that meaningful surveillance reform must include closing
the back-door searches loophole and requiring the intelligence community
to show probable cause before deliberately searching through data
collected under section 702 to find the communications of individual
Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act established a legal framework
for the government to acquire foreign intelligence by targeting non-U.S.
persons who are reasonably believed to be located outside the United
States under a program approved by the FISA Court. Because Section 702
does not involve obtaining individual warrants, it contains language
specifically intended to limit the government’s ability to use these new
authorities to deliberately spy on Americans.
"The revelation that — despite the clear intent of Section 702 to target foreign communications — the
government is deliberating searching for the phone calls or emails of
specific Americans and circumventing traditional warrant protections
should be concerning to all," Wyden and Udall added.
Click here to read the letter.
*The original version stated that the searches include emails but
the letter does not specify what forms of communications were searched.