Sunday, November 29, 2015

Heeey, remember that thing, you know, where the government was watching your emails and phone calls?

The government-spying-on-Americans scandal keeps getting worse.

Heeey, remember that thing, you know, where the government was watching your emails and phone calls?


America, the land of "Short-Attention-Span Theater" -- which is what the Obama administration is hoping for on the issue of excessive and unwarranted government spying on innocent Americans. Jeff Bezos' Washington Post (not to be confused with "Lee Daniels' The Butler") is here with the latest:

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by law and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans. A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a “large number” of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a “quality assurance” review that was not distributed to the NSA’s oversight staff.

This story remains a vitally important (if complicated) one. If you look at the big picture, this is a remarkably positive time for progressivism in America, as we finally see momentum to roll back things -- like the "war on drugs," militaristic policing and tactics like stop-and-frisk, and even the post-9/11 surveillance state -- that it seemed might never get rolled back. On the last front, this is happening because of one man, Edward Snowden. He is still what I called him on Day One, an American patriot.

Oh, and both Keith Olbermann and the English Premier League are coming back to the telly. So life is good. Have a great weekend.

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About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.


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