United States Wire Tapping

I have a strong distrust of government over reach.  I think that we often times allow out government to go far too far in what we think are noble intentions.  But I have to admit that I am at a loss in this area.

Consider, an American citizen talking to another American citizen.  Clearly the government would be required to obtain a warrant.  However, what legal requirements would be needed in order for the government to listen to the communications of a foreign operative and ANOTHER foreign operative outside the US borders?

Probably none.

But now consider this.  A foreign terror suspect, on foreign soil.  Can we listen to his communications?  And what if those communications are between him and an American citizen?

This is what we’re talking about:

The FISA Amendments Act, (.pdf) which was expiring Friday at midnight, allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant so long as one of the parties to the communication is believed outside the United States. The communications may be intercepted “to acquire foreign intelligence information.”

I happen to agree with Obama’s administration on this one.  If we’re targeting a foreign suspect and happen to listen to American citizens, I don’t think that we have a legal requirement to obtain a warrant.  However, if we just listen to American citizens in the hopes of catching them talking to terrorists…..different story.

Leave a Reply