Domestic spying program is 'limited' - What are the limits?
The USA are standing firmly behind his domestic spying
program, saying that allowing the intelligence community listen in on
phone calls Americans have with suspected terrorists is lawful and does not
result in widespread domestic eavesdropping.
But according to many creditable organizations, already in existence a program called "Echelon" is perhaps the most powerful intelligence gathering organization in the world. Echelon is a surveillance program controlled by the NSA. Several credible reports suggest that this global electronic communications surveillance system presents an extreme threat to the privacy of people all over the world. Echelon attempts to capture staggering volumes of satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic traffic, including communications to and from North America. This vast quantity of voice and data communications are then processed through sophisticated filtering technologies. This massive surveillance system apparently operates with little oversight. Moreover, there is little information provided to the public and there are few details as to the legal guidelines for the project. Because of this, there is no way of knowing if ECHELON is being used illegally to spy on private citizens.
After 9/11, the USA gave gave the NSA permission to
eavesdrop without a warrant on communications between suspected terrorists
overseas and people inside the United States. The NSA had been conducting
the domestic surveillance since 2002. The Justice Department on opened
an investigation into who told reporters about the program. ‘The fact that
somebody leaked this program causes great harm to the United States.
Of course the government usually claims ‘‘These
limited programs designed to prevent attacks on the United States of America
and most Americans understand the need to find out what the enemy's
thinking. I If somebody from al-Qaida is calling you, we'd like to know why.
... This program is conscious of people's civil liberties.'' However,
bypassed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a little-known panel
of 11 federal judges that approves wiretaps and searches in the most
sensitive terrorism and espionage cases.
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