US intelligence official admits to unlawful surveillance ‘on one occasion’

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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The U.S. government is acknowledging that “on one occasion” it engaged in unconstitutional surveillance of Americans.

In a letter to Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, the Director of National Intelligence’s Director of Legislative Affairs Kathleen Turner admitted, “It is also true that at least on one occasion the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has held that some collection carried out pursuant to the Section 702 minimization procedures used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

“Minimization refers to how long the government may retain the surveillance data it collects,” wrote Wired’s Danger Room Friday. “The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is supposed to guarantee our rights against unreasonable searches.”

The admission, however, is vague, and does not specify a timeframe, the persons surveilled or the location(s) at which the unlawful snooping took place.

“Because the three statements you asked us to review are fragmentary and incomplete, we believe they may convey an incomplete and potentially misunderstanding of what has transpired,” wrote Turner.

Civil liberties advocates are ardent in their pursuit of legal action against the government to end such surveillance practices.

Three former NSA officials, who were previously targeted by the federal government for leaking details about the NSA’s domestic spying program, have resurfaced to provide evidence in a lawsuit against the agency.

The former officials filed court motions at the beginning of July, as part of civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit Jewel v NSA. The lawsuit is aimed at ending “the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans and holding accountable the government officials who illegally authorized it.”

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