NSA Spying Came About Thanks to One Word
America's 'secret supreme court' changed what 'relevant' means
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jul 8, 2013 7:43 AM CDT
Changing one word made a huge difference.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The controversial spying programs that Edward Snowden has revealed can trace their existence to the FISA court's redefinition of one word: "relevant." The Patriot Act allows the FBI to demand records as long as they are believed to be "relevant to an authorized investigation." But the court in the mid-2000s expanded the definition of "relevant" beyond its usual, narrow application in criminal cases to allow the government to collect virtually anything and assemble a database on millions of people, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Essentially, "relevant" now means "everything," a former Justice Department lawyer says. "A grand-jury subpoena for such a broad class of records," he says, "would be laughed out of court." But the FISA court's rulings are made in secret and are almost impossible to challenge. The New York Times yesterday said the court had become "almost a parallel Supreme Court," regularly ruling on broad constitutional questions. It has, for example, carved out a terrorism exception to the Fourth Amendment's protections against search and seizures.

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Showing 3 of 56 comments
Libris_Fidelis
Jul 9, 2013 7:58 AM CDT
I am going to re-post this because I think that this is a critically important point that the news media is too ignorant to know, since the news media no longer researches things. The NSA cannot be "fixed". It is a violation of federal law to fix it. Our only hope is that when "the" U.S. Supreme Court membership "stacked-deck" is unstacked over time, that a court case can be brought to "the" Supreme Court to declare the anti-Constitutional 1947 National Security Agency Act to be unconstitutional, and then to UN-DO the whole ball of wax, and then start over with a CONSTITUTIONAL National Security ADMINISTRATION -- which it is, that is not immune to Congressional and Presidential oversight and control. An "agency" is a department, like the Internal Revenue dis-Service is a spy agency for the Department of the Treasury. HOWEVER... the NSA from its semi-Top Secret creation has ALWAYS been independent from and of our government, but AFTER the initial 1947 NSA Act, the additional 1949 and 1959 NSA Acts ALSO BLATANTLY made the NSA become a legal MILITARY spy on the public !!!
Libris_Fidelis
Jul 9, 2013 7:01 AM CDT
The notion that "the" National Security "Agency" (it is a self-powerful ADMINISTRATION) has only just recently gained "powers" of spying is beyond being STUPID, and the news media is incredibly brainless in its children's hear-say gossip mentality after the 40 years of what limited knowledge of the NSA has been forthcoming. Since its inception in 1947, the NSA has been exempt from oversight and control by the President and Congress of our United States of America! That was how the 1947 National Security Act was created to be, and much of the Act is top-secret so that VERY few members of both houses of Congress have the necessary secret clearance to even be able to investigate it AND THEN WHEN ANY OF THEM ARE QUALIFIED WITH THE NECESSARY SECURITY CREDENTIALS THE CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS ARE LIMITED BY THE ACT'S STIPULATION FOR A "NEED TO KNOW" and who knows what definition the act imposes on THAT phrase! The government and jerk-off news media people keep focusing on the overt 1949 and 1959 National Security Acts which "enhance" the 1947 NSA legislation and allegedly places NSA into the Department of Defense, which is ludicrous when the Department of Defense like the FBI and CIA and every elementary and high school and college and university in our country are REQUIRED to report THEIR intelligence information TO the NSA but the NSA is IMMUNE from being required to divulge its information to ANYONE including to our President and Congress !!! What we are getting in the news and by the sand-box pretenses by Congress is one huge cover-up !!! Congress cannot even reduce or cut the NSA's annual budget but Congress IS PERMITTED TO INCREASE NSA'S ANNUAL BUDGET !!!!!
YetAnotherCollegeKid
Jul 8, 2013 8:43 PM CDT
You know, at this point, I don't care who is responsible. I don't care. Obama, Bush, Congress, us, I don't care. Just fix it so it stops and doesn't happen again.