NSA Has 'Backdoor' to Search US Emails

Senator Ron Wyden confirms latest Snowden leak
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2013 1:30 PM CDT
NSA Has 'Backdoor' to Search US Emails
Sen. Ron Wyden, seen in this file photo, thinks the NSA has gone too far.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The NSA has a secret legal "backdoor" allowing it to search for emails and other information related to specific Americans without a warrant, the Guardian reports. It's the latest leak from Edward Snowden, and this time it comes with confirmation from Senate Intelligence Committee member and perpetual NSA critic Ron Wyden. Under a legal authority approved in 2011, the NSA can search its database directly for anything it may have collected—inadvertently or otherwise—on a "US Person," meaning anyone living in the US.

"A gap in the law that I call the 'backdoor searches loophole' allows the government to potentially go through these communications and conduct warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans," Wyden says. However, a secret glossary document leaked by Snowden indicates that, while the law allows such searches, "analysts may NOT/NOT implement any USP [US persons] queries until an effective oversight process has been developed." The document appears to have been last updated in June 2012, and it's unclear if this oversight has been implemented yet. (More NSA stories.)

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