What’s wrong with government surveillance of average Americans?
A whistleblower has exposed the National Security Administration’s warrantless spying on millions of ordinary Americans, and conservatives are divided in their reactions. Dick Cheney and Michele Bachmann are calling former NSA contractor Edward Snowden a traitor. This may be the only time I ever disagree with them.
Snowden revealed that judges are approving warrants allowing the government to obtain “inadvertently acquired” information without a search warrant. This includes the contents of emails and listening in on phone conversations. It is ostensibly authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
This is terrifying when you consider how easy it could be for the government to target someone, then make it look like they “inadvertently acquired” their confidential information after poring through gobs of information. The government is permitted to retain the information for up to five years. As an attorney who formerly handled public records requests for the government, I assure you it is easy to retain records for longer than that without anyone noticing. Snowden said that he had access to obtain this information from virtually anyone with a personal email address.