1. What information is the NSA collecting and storing about average Americans?
Probably just about everything you can imagine. The data collection and storage programs are classified. But we do have some information from Snowden’s release of documents, information from the congressional committee and from limited public statements from government officials.
We know for a fact that the NSA is collecting all of the meta data on every phone call made or received by every phone in the USA. That includes every call that you make and every call that you receive. The data is being stored for a minimum of five years. This data includes the phone number making the call, the phone number being called, the duration of the call and the location of each of the parties. These are primarily domestic calls.
Numerous media sources indicate that the NSA is also collecting every email message sent to or from every email address in the USA. This includes all domestic email. Persons familiar with intelligence gathering have suggested that the program likely includes all voice mail, text messaging, Skype, twitter, facsimile and similar electronic communications, face book pages, websites, credit card purchases, banking deposits, checks (images of your checks are now electronic files) and possibly a list of every website you have ever visited.
There is a dispute as to whether the NSA is collecting the actual voice content of every phone call made in the USA. We have reviewed this matter carefully and have determined that there is a very high probability that the NSA is recording and storing all domestic phone calls. Reportedly, the storing and keyword indexing of these phone calls was (and still may be) conducted outside of the USA under a legal theory that the US Constitution did not apply to documents, data and recordings which were not being stored in the USA. The attorney who came up with this theory should be disbarred.
2. Is this information being collected based upon a warrant as required by the 4th Amendment?
No. The 4th Amendment requires that a warrant for a document or record can only be obtained by a showing of probable cause (to believe that a crime has been or is being committed). There is no probable cause to believe that you or I or 300 million other American citizens are committing a crime. Yet our records are being seized. The phone “metadata” is being seized based upon a secret order from a secret court. The order was reveled by Edward Snowden, which is why some call him a trator. The government has acknowledged that the order is genuine.
3. Is the Collection of this information without a warrant legal?
No. The fourth Amendment to the US Constitution requires a warrant based upon a showing of probable cause and supported by an oath or affirmation stating the basis for probable cause before records and documents can be seized. This is one of the most basic and fundaments rights and protections provided by our Constitution.
4. Isn’t the NSA just collecting my data so that it has it on file in case I become a suspect in the future? (Future crime? Really?) The actual access to my files still requires a warrant doesn’t it?
No. The NSA, FBI, CIA and potentially other government law enforcement agencies can access your data and possibly recorded phone calls without a warrant. The Intelligence Surveillance Court has authorized the surveillance on you and every America. The Court has created its own body of secret Court rulings which now constitute a secret body of laws. This secret court appears to have no regard for your rights, your privacy or our constitution
Information disclosed to congressional oversight committees indicated that law enforcement can access your data file based upon “a suspicion that the information may be relevant to an investigation.” This is a legal standard that is found nowhere in the US Constitution and which contradicts the plain words of the 4th Amendment. Under this new standard, if a federal law enforcement official wants to look at your data how are you going to stop him, and how would you ever know?
5. Is anyone listening to my phone calls?
Probably not. The president of the United States has said that no one is listening to your phone calls. Despite the New York Times statement that the President does not have any credibility on the domestic spying program, his statement is probably correct, so long as a government official does not decide that he wants to listen to your calls.
There is information that recordings of the calls are being keyword indexed by computer programs so that at a later date a human operator could sort through every phone call in the country by keyword. So you might want to refrain from disagreeing with any government officials in your phone calls, email, twitter or other communications.
The government has not acknowledged recording all domestic calls and has not indicated how long it would keep the recordings. The new NSA data storage facility in Utah would have the potential storage capacity to store recordings of all domestic communications for many, many years. The government has acknowledged that it plans to store your metadata for a minimum of 5 years. As they expand their data storage capacity with the new facility in Utah, why not just store it indefinitely?
6. Is there a potential that politicians, judges, congressmen, business leaders, media executives and citizens could be blackmailed with this information?
Yes. We know that J. Edgar Hover used the FBI to create files on political leaders in the US, including the president and members of the president’s family, which he used to blackmail his way into greater power and influence. Just think of what he could have done if he had a keyword searchable database of every phone call and electronic communication in the country. If you trust our politicians and bureaucrats with this power, then you are not a student of history or human nature.
7. Is the Constitutional Rights Association a right wing or left wing organization?
Yes, Yes, and middle of the road also. Our founders and founding suporters include conservative republicans, liberal democrats, independents and people who are not at all politically interested.
Most of our founders and founding supporters are attorneys including: prosecuting attorneys (both currently serving and retired), corporate attorneys, civil rights attorneys and transactional attorneys. If you put these people in a room together you will find that they disagree on almost every major political and social issue of our day. But we do have one thing in common: We can read the law and we know the US Constitution. We know when the rights of American citizens are being taken away. We ee it happening now.
We have come together to inform the public of one true fact: The seizure of the communications data of US citizens in mass, without a warrant based on probable cause, is a clear violation of the US Constitution and your rights as an American citizen. This outrageous action of our government, if it remains unchallenged, will unravel our Constitution and destroy our democracy. We are non partisan. There are many conservatives, many liberals, and many people who have not a political philosophy at all, who see the danger that we all face. When danger comes for one of us, it comes for all of us. We know that we need to stand up now while the danger is at its weakest. Soon it may be too late.