U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has performed warrantless searches of its databases to obtain data from Americans' phone calls and emails.
Clapper noted in his letter, which was sent in response to Wyden's request as to whether NSA had actually performed such searches, that "U.S. person identifiers" are used in searches of the databases to obtain intelligence on "non-U.S. persons" who are believed to be located overseas.
Documents released by Edward Snowden indicate the searches are performed under procedures approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in 2011. The information that is analyzed is collected under Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which states the federal government can collect the content and metadata of Americans' communications without a warrant if they are in direct contact with foreign surveillance targets.
Clapper said in his letter these searches are legal under Section 702 and compliant with the Fourth Amendment. Wyden disagreed, saying the searches are unconstitutional and they represent a "threat to the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans."
From The Guardian
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