Monday, June 17, 2013

Krauthammer: Pushing The Envelope, NSA-Style

Charles Krauthammer's column in the National Review offers his take on NSA's surveillance programs.

Thirty-five years ago in United States v. Choate, the courts ruled that the Postal Service may record “mail cover,” i.e., what’s written on the outside of an envelope — the addresses of sender and receiver.

The National Security Agency’s recording of U.S. phone data does basically that with the telephone. It records who is calling whom — the outside of the envelope, as it were. The content of the conversation, however, is like the letter inside the envelope. It may not be opened without a court order.

The constitutional basis for this is simple: The Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures” and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for what’s written on an envelope. It’s dropped in a public mailbox, read by workers at the collection center, and read once again by the letter carrier. It’s already openly been shared, much as your phone records are shared with, recorded by, and (e-)mailed back to you by a third party, namely the phone company.

... But doesn’t the other NSA program — the spooky-sounding James Bond–evoking PRISM — give you the willies? Well, what we know thus far is that PRISM is designed to read the e-mails of non-U.S. citizens outside the United States. If an al-Qaeda operative in Yemen is e-mailing a potential recruit, it would be folly not to intercept it. 

As former Attorney General Michael Mukasey explains, the Constitution is not a treaty with the rest of the world; it’s an instrument for the protection of the American citizenry. And reading other people’s mail is something countries do to protect themselves. It’s called spying.

Is that really shocking?

You can read the rest of the column via the below link:

Note: The above Defense Department photo is an aerial view of NSA headquarters.

1 comment:

  1. If you want to know what the NSA is REALLY doing with your life and communications, read
    Freedom on the Rocks - Tyranny versus Terrorism: