NAPOLITANO: Is the NSA spying on Congress?

Privacy of all Americans being violated by Obama administration

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There was a time when the NSA’s failure to answer such a straightforward question as Mr. Sanders has asked would have led to hearings and bipartisan investigations.

However, Democrats are largely silent, choosing party and personality over principle, and Republicans know all of this started under President George W. Bush and are afraid to open a can of worms — except for Mr. King, who apparently likes to be spied upon.

Under laws that have been held to be both unconstitutional and constitutional by two different courts, the NSA can obtain surveillance orders with no articulated suspicion about those to be spied upon, even though the Fourth Amendment requires probable cause, a high level of individualized suspicion.

Basically, the NSA can tell a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act judge that two thugs in area code 212 are chatting with five jerks in area code 312, and they are all texting six malcontents in area code 310.

It knows who they are and where they are, but instead of going to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles to investigate them, instead of asking for a search warrant to spy on just them, the NSA wants a warrant to spy on everyone in those area codes.

It is a lot easier for our spies to throw a few switches at a telecommunications office than to burn shoe leather. If authorities in New Jersey had asked this of me when I was on the bench there, I’d have thrown them out of my courtroom because the Constitution expressly forbids this.

Just as disturbing as the revelation that the NSA is spying on members of Congress is the fear of what the agency does with the information it collects. In September, The Guardian newspaper of London reported that the NSA shares raw, unfiltered information it has gathered with some foreign nations, including England and Israel.

It also reported that the NSA shares this raw data with its boss, President Obama. Hence, Mr. Sanders‘ letter.

The lawlessness continues. The president’s NSA spies remain out of control. They are spying on Congress and the courts; the military and the press; the CIA and other spies; friends, foes and the pope.

If we fail to stop this soon, the next generation of Americans will not even know what privacy is.

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst for the Fox News Channel. He has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.

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