Stone: It’s Time to Shut the NSA’s Backdoor Used to Spy on Americans

It’s Time to Shut the NSA’s Backdoor Used to Spy on Americans
Geoffrey R. Stone
The Daily Beast
July 3, 2014

On June 20, the House of Representatives passed a defense spending bill with an amendment that would substantially strengthen the privacy protections of American citizens in the context of foreign intelligence surveillance. The amendment, which passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 293-123, should be quickly and enthusiastically approved by the Senate and then signed into law by President Obama.

Complicating matters, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which makes recommendations to Congress about such matters, just issued a deeply disappointing report that does not go as far as the House’s enactment. That report is simply wrong, and should be rejected. Let me explain.

Most of the focus in the United States about National Security Agency surveillance programs has been on the section 215 telephone metadata program, which directly involves the collection of phone records of American citizens. The vast majority of NSA foreign intelligence programs, however, are directed at people who are not U.S. citizens and who are not in the United States. They are directed, in short, at potential foreign terrorists.

Geoffrey R. Stone