By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/2/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The National Security Agency has been authorized to intercept information which concerns all but four countries, top-secret documents revealed.
The NSA has been accused of conducting illegal spying on foreign countries.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to 2010 legal certification and other documents, the NSA has been given far more elastic authority than previously assumed, one that allows it to intercept any communication about an overseas target, not just information from that target.
End world hunger through "prayer and action."
Except for targets in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand these documents explain. Those countries, with the United States are part of a group known to the U.S. as the Five Eyes.
The NSA's sweeping certification-approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -was leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, allow it to gather intelligence on entities including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
This doesn't mean that the NSA is targeting the 193 other countries, or these organizations, but that it has been given the legal authority to do so by the U.S. legal system.
It is the implications of this which is so worrying, civil liberties advocates say. There is a wide spectrum of people who might be engaged in communication with or about foreign governments or entities and these communications might be monitored by the NSA.
"These documents show both the potential scope of the government's surveillance activities and the exceedingly modest role the court plays in overseeing them," said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, when the documents were described to him.
The NSA fired back, claiming there were constraints placed on foreign intelligence-gathering. The collected information must relate to a foreign intelligence requirement set for the agency by the president, the director of national intelligence and various departments through the National Intelligence Priorities Framework.
A former government official said that it is prudent for the certification to list every country, even those whose affairs do not seem to be immediately of interest to U.S. security.
"It's not impossible to imagine a humanitarian crisis in a country that's friendly to the United States, where the military might be expected on a moment's notice to go in and evacuate all Americans," said a former senior defense official. "If that certification did not list the country," then the NSA couldn't gather intelligence.
These documents shed light on the little-understood process that is central to one of the NSA's most significant surveillance programs: the collections of e-mails and phone calls of foreign targets under Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act.
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