If you make a phone call to someone in another country the NSA can listen in without getting a warrant. They still need a warrant if you’re calling someone domestically, but if its international, you’re fair game. Legally, this is a huge change, as the NSA has been barred from spying on Americans in-country for decades.
I’m no lawyer, but as I understand it, the president signed this back in 2002, and it’s legality hinges on the idea that the president can authorize searches of “foreign powers and their agents.” So if the NSA spies on you, they can claim that they thought you were an “agent of a foreign power” and it’s all good.
Just as interesting as this new spy-on-Americans power, is this quote from the article above:
The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.
The NY Times had a scoop on an increase in government snooping power, and sat on it for a whole year cuz the government asked them to. And then, when the government told them “don’t print these parts”, the NYT obeyed. Score 1 for those muckraking, junkyard dogs of the press!
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