Clapper: Yeah, we’ve checked out Americans’ e-mail content, phone calls without warrants

posted at 8:51 pm on April 2, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham

In a letter to NSA-skeptic Sen. Ron Wyden this week, DNI head James Clapper seems to confirm searches of the content of American citizens’ communication the administration had previously suggested was off-limits:

The Obama administration has conducted warrantless searches of Americans’ communications as part of the National Security Agency’s surveillance operations that target foreigners located outside of the U.S., the administration’s top intelligence official confirmed in a letter to Congress disclosed Tuesday.

These searches were authorized by a secret surveillance court in 2011, but it was unclear until Tuesday whether any such searches on Americans had been conducted.

The recent acknowledgement of warrantless searches on Americans offers more insight into U.S. government surveillance operations put in place after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The government has broadly interpreted these laws to allow for the collection of communications of innocent Americans, practices the Obama administration maintains are legal. But President Barack Obama has promised to review some of these programs to determine whether the government should be conducting this type of surveillance at all.

Wyden was displeased, releasing this statement with fellow Sen. Mark Udall:

“Senior officials have sometimes suggested that government agencies do not deliberately read Americans’ emails, monitor their online activity or listen to their phone calls without a warrant. However, the facts show that those suggestions were misleading, and that intelligence agencies have indeed conducted warrantless searches for Americans’ communications using the ‘back-door search’ loophole in section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” the two senators wrote. “Today’s admission by the Director of National Intelligence is further proof that meaningful surveillance reform must include closing the back-door searches loophole and requiring the intelligence community to show probable cause before deliberately searching through data collected under section 702 to find the communications of individual Americans.”


The searches were conducted, Clapper says, in the process of investigating suspected foreign threats:

The queries were part of efforts to obtain information about suspected foreign terrorists under a law that Congress passed in 2008, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in a March 28 letter to Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and one of the most vocal critics of government surveillance.

The push for reform will continue, as everyone who suggested they probably aren’t too careful about what content they access swimming in their sea of metadata say, “toldja so.”

The disclosure is significant because it potentially opens up a new line of public and congressional scrutiny into NSA spying. Until now, most of the focus of public debate has been on restraining the NSA’s ability to collect and store bulk phone records, which include numbers dialed and call durations without the contents of conversations.

Previous Wyden vs. Clapper.

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“You’re damn right I ordered the Code Red!”

BuckeyeSam on April 2, 2014 at 8:54 PM

Clapper: Yeah, we’ve checked out Americans’ e-mail content, phone calls without warrants

Then why isn’t Clapper checking into jail?

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2014 at 8:56 PM

NSA: “We know what you did last summer.”

vnvet on April 2, 2014 at 8:56 PM

I wonder what they found in Ivan Lopez’s emails?

oldroy on April 2, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Pity they couldn’t track the Boston marathon bomber brothers.

rbj on April 2, 2014 at 9:00 PM

What missing plane?

BobMbx on April 2, 2014 at 9:04 PM

Is this the same Clapper that didn’t know shitte about the UK/CIA sting in Europe a couple years ago?

Electrongod on April 2, 2014 at 9:04 PM

wonder what they found in Ivan Lopez’s emails? oldroy on April 2, 2014 at 8:56 PM

We’ll never know. I’m sure his facebook rant has been scrubbed by now.

PRISM only focuses on tea party catch phrases I imagine.

wolly4321 on April 2, 2014 at 9:05 PM

I haven’t heard anything about Ft. Hood…has something happened?

BobMbx on April 2, 2014 at 9:05 PM

I haven’t heard anything about Ft. Hood…has something happened?

BobMbx on April 2, 2014 at 9:05 PM

Obama will fill you in…

Count on it…/

Electrongod on April 2, 2014 at 9:07 PM

I haven’t heard anything about Ft. Hood…has something happened?

BobMbx on April 2, 2014 at 9:05 PM

BION another shooting there . 4 dead 14 injured last I heard anyway

cableguy615 on April 2, 2014 at 9:08 PM

and people have gone to jail for lesser lies than this Clap ?

burrata on April 2, 2014 at 9:08 PM

Clapper: Yeah, we’ve checked out Americans’ e-mail content, phone calls without warrants….

…so ?? What are you gonna do about it ??

cableguy615 on April 2, 2014 at 9:09 PM

Electrongod on April 2, 2014 at 9:07 PM
cableguy615 on April 2, 2014 at 9:08 PM

I was actually being sarcastic about Clappers’ propensity to not know whats going on. After all, he is head of the US intel community.

He missed the London bus bomb attack on live TV, ‘member?

BobMbx on April 2, 2014 at 9:11 PM

So when will he be arrested?……………yep

crankyoldlady on April 2, 2014 at 9:19 PM

Then why isn’t Clapper checking into jail?

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Just because Clapper and intelligence agencies have indeed conducted warrantless searches for Americans’ communications using the ‘back-door search’ doesn’t mean Clapper wants to have his backdoor searched in a Federal FYITA prison.

Mark Boabaca on April 2, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Prison?

mankai on April 2, 2014 at 9:29 PM

Didn’t Keith Alexander just last week deny that the NSA was doing this very thing in an interview with Brett Baier? This very thing. Just last week.

ZOMG

rogaineguy on April 2, 2014 at 9:33 PM

The Founding Fathers would have hung Clapper.

VorDaj on April 2, 2014 at 9:34 PM

“Yah we did it, what are you going to do about it?”

Whiterock on April 2, 2014 at 9:34 PM

After I registered on HA, my phone started making these weird clicking noises. I just wonder …. Oh and my daughter was in Puerto Rico at the time. Ah, just my paranoia kicking in. Glad I don’t belong to Facebook.

Whiterock on April 2, 2014 at 9:38 PM

After I registered on HA, my phone started making these weird clicking noises. I just wonder …. Oh and my daughter was in Puerto Rico at the time. Ah, just my paranoia kicking in. Glad I don’t belong to Facebook.

Whiterock on April 2, 2014 at 9:38 PM

You’ll get used to it after a few months. Those cars that are following you are just a coincidence.

oldroy on April 2, 2014 at 9:42 PM

The Founding Fathers would have hung Clapper.

VorDaj on April 2, 2014 at 9:34 PM

He might have passed from lead poisoning.

Murphy9 on April 2, 2014 at 9:44 PM

Question. Can a House committee arrest somebody or do they have to beg the Justice Dept.to do it?

crankyoldlady on April 2, 2014 at 9:46 PM

Time for another Jen Rubin article about how Rand Paul is undermining US security with his focus on the NSA….

Clark1 on April 2, 2014 at 9:47 PM

The recent acknowledgement of warrantless searches on Americans offers more insight into U.S. government surveillance operations put in place after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The government has broadly interpreted these laws to allow for the collection of communications of innocent Americans, practices the Obama administration maintains are legal. But President Barack Obama has promised to review some of these programs to determine whether the government should be conducting this type of surveillance at all.

…I think it has been determined that only conservative…Tea Party types…and anyone that poses opposition to anything the Dims or this administration wants done…are the ONLY ONES determined to need government surveillance by President Barack Obama!

KOOLAID2 on April 2, 2014 at 9:52 PM

Then why isn’t Clapper checking into jail?

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2014 at 8:56 PM

What disturbs me is they don’t seem to care anymore if we find out what they are up to. They aren’t hiding it anymore. They don’t expect repercussions.

crankyoldlady on April 2, 2014 at 9:53 PM

What are we peasants going to do? Change the government or something? Don’t make them laugh.

Another Libertarian on April 2, 2014 at 10:09 PM

Clapper belongs in prison.

FloatingRock on April 2, 2014 at 10:09 PM

He would be gone by now if he had the deal they offered Mike Morrell….

d1carter on April 2, 2014 at 10:11 PM

Clapper lied to Congress while Morrell watched sitting right beside him and then he lied to Congress…but Morrell played ball and got the big deal…

d1carter on April 2, 2014 at 10:13 PM

And Snowden is considered a traitor

MoreLiberty on April 2, 2014 at 10:17 PM

“You’re damn right I ordered the Code Red!”

BuckeyeSam on April 2, 2014 at 8:54 PM

Hahahahahaha…nicely done.

Jaibones on April 2, 2014 at 10:20 PM

Time for another Jen Rubin article about how Rand Paul is undermining US security with his focus on the NSA….

Clark1 on April 2, 2014 at 9:47 PM

Another? Try ten!

Punchenko on April 2, 2014 at 10:36 PM

Not good.

Whitey Ford on April 2, 2014 at 10:49 PM

So what is James Clapper’s home address?

Galtian on April 2, 2014 at 11:12 PM

After I registered on HA, my phone started making these weird clicking noises. I just wonder …. Oh and my daughter was in Puerto Rico at the time. Ah, just my paranoia kicking in. Glad I don’t belong to Facebook.

Whiterock on April 2, 2014 at 9:38 PM

You’ll get used to it after a few months. Those cars that are following you are just a coincidence.

oldroy on April 2, 2014 at 9:42 PM

Invest in an SEIU t-shirt. Thats the best privacy insurance money can buy.

BobMbx on April 2, 2014 at 11:15 PM

Clapper: Yeah, we’ve checked out Americans’ e-mail content, phone calls without warrants

The conspiracy theory wackos have been saying this has been going on for years. Wonder what else the “wackos” have been saying is also true?

This normalcy bias, the attitude that the worst, weirdest things can’t possibly happen (until they actually do) is slowly hanging us.

Obama loves you.
The GOP loves you.
The Liberals love you.
Congress loves you.
The bankers love you.

Everything will be fine. Bad people simply don’t rise to such heights and stay there (Hollywood says so!). They are looking out for you.

Now, go back to sleep…sweet dreams!

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 2, 2014 at 11:25 PM

Yea and Snowden is still regarded as the “traitor” in all this.

DontTaseMeBro on April 2, 2014 at 11:28 PM

Only 40 comments, you know why?

This is one of those issues that everyone says they care about, but they don’t. Not really. Aside from a few zealots, everyone just shrugs and moves on.

thebrokenrattle on April 3, 2014 at 12:01 AM

Pity they couldn’t track the Boston marathon bomber brothers.

rbj on April 2, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Congressman says Russians believe Boston bombings were preventable

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/06/02/congressman-says-russia-shared-info-on-boston-bomber/

On Friday, Keating told The Associated Press that Russian officials showed him a letter they sent to the FBI in March 2011, warning that Tsarnaev had plans to join insurgents in Chechnya.

Keating said the letter contained a lot of details about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, including his birthday, telephone number, cellphone number, where he lived in Cambridge and information about his wife and child. He said it also referenced the possibility that Tsarnaev might be considering changing names.

The Russians also had information about his mother, including her Skype address, Keating said.

Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police three days after the April 15 bombing. Authorities believe he carried out the attack with his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was captured alive and remains in custody.

Keating told the AP that the Russians believed Tsarnaev wanted to go to Palestine and engage in terrorist activities, but was unable to master the language.

“That was the level of detail they were providing in this letter,” Keating said.

FBI officials declined comment Friday.

After getting the March 2011 letter from the Russians, the agency did a cursory investigation and closed its assessment on Tsarnaev.

redguy on April 3, 2014 at 12:03 AM

It’s all out there – you just have to open your eyes and quit listening & watching leftist propaganda.

redguy on April 3, 2014 at 12:05 AM

What disturbs me is they don’t seem to care anymore if we find out what they are up to. They aren’t hiding it anymore. They don’t expect repercussions.

crankyoldlady on April 2, 2014 at 9:53 PM

They aren’t hiding it and there won’t be any repercussions.

Eric Holder would have to decide to prosecute and he won’t.

You can also bet that there will be a massive pile of presidential pardons handed out as Obama heads for the exit door. That’s going to be the final bird this country gets flipped as these jokers head off into the sunset.

trigon on April 3, 2014 at 12:16 AM

The 9th layer won’t be hot enough.

Schadenfreude on April 3, 2014 at 12:23 AM

You can also bet that there will be a massive pile of presidential pardons handed out as Obama heads for the exit door. That’s going to be the final bird this country gets flipped as these jokers head off into the sunset.

trigon on April 3, 2014 at 12:16 AM

Yeah, I hope Clapper is reading this one…..

Sometime in 2017 a whole lot of Obama cronies will be looking over their shoulders…….

redguy on April 3, 2014 at 12:30 AM

Then why isn’t Clapper checking into jail?

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Because the oligarchy are not subject to the law, only their subjects are.

FloatingRock on April 3, 2014 at 1:19 AM

Nobody cares, nobody is listening and nobody will do anything. This is your government at work. What we think simply doesn’t matter anymore.

rplat on April 3, 2014 at 3:52 AM

He needs a new career of turning big rocks into small rocks 9-5.

Not hoisting scotch on the rocks and violating his oath to the US Constitution.

And really, doing that is a species of treason, but they feel so safe now that they will speak it openly but none dare call its name.

ajacksonian on April 3, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Perhaps Clapper could let us in on why NSA failed to identify threat posed by the Tsarnaev brothers.

Could it possibly be that they are focusing on potential domestic terrorists such as those Janet Napolitano’s homeland security identified – “right wing” groups that oppose illegal immigration, firearms restrictions, or abortion or that would limit federal usurpation of state and local authority.

Nomas on April 3, 2014 at 6:04 AM

The reason they aren’t focused on terrorists is that they are too busy spying on us. They are more worried about groups here that they imagine are targeting them than threats to the country. They wouldn’t have to be if they weren’t engaging in criminal activity.

crankyoldlady on April 3, 2014 at 6:28 AM

verbaluce?
 
urban elitist?
 
bayam?
 
constantine?
 
jim56?
 
loveofcountry?
 
The “Bush’s illegal wars!!!” guy from yesterday’s headline thread?
 
All the rest of you (D)s?
 
C’mon, guys. Why is this thread so quiet?

rogerb on April 3, 2014 at 6:48 AM

Here. I’ll get you started.
 

Perhaps you weren’t a member of the Bush/Cheney apology choir during the time they were actually (not hypothetically)subverting the constitution… Maybe you were outraged by the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping.
 
verbaluce on March 7, 2013 at 5:54 PM

rogerb on April 3, 2014 at 6:50 AM

Yea and Snowden is still regarded as the “traitor” in all this.

DontTaseMeBro on April 2, 2014 at 11:28 PM

What the NSA was/is doing is a separate issue from the traitor Snowden and the way he sold out this nation.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2014 at 7:51 AM

From the Most Transparent Administration Evah; Bousssh did it too!

Herb on April 3, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Isn’t that unlawful search and seizure? Did he just admit in writing to committing a crime? So, where’s the warrant for his arrest, Mr. Bonehead?

Kissmygrits on April 3, 2014 at 9:03 AM

What the NSA was/is doing is a separate issue from the traitor Snowden and the way he sold out this nation.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2014 at 7:51 AM

Thank you for your sanity.

rlwo2008 on April 3, 2014 at 10:00 AM

The push for reform will continue…

And as usual, nothing will change. The government will get larger and more intrusive and the Amerikan police state will complete itself, and the flag waivers won’t know the difference.

earlgrey on April 3, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Such a quiet thread. Looks like Saturday Night Live is much more important than the rights of U.S. citizens and the unconstitutional actions of the president after all.
 
We knew that alrea(D)y, but still.

rogerb on April 3, 2014 at 2:28 PM

This makes Scooter Libby look like a saint in comparison. Not the same thing but alot more sinister. Clapper violated the rights of thousnds. I think it goes all the way to the top.

kemojr on April 4, 2014 at 2:38 PM