Contrary to assurances from President Obama himself, thousands of American phone calls were intercepted by the NSA in one year alone, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post from Russian asylum seeker Edward Snowden.
On August 9, Obama told Americans from the East Room of the White House:
If you look at the reports, even the disclosures that Mr. Snowden’s put forward, all the stories that have been written, what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and, you know, listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s e-mails. What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused. Now part of the reason they’re not abused is because they’re — these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court].
But according to an internal NSA audit provided by Snowden and published by the Post Friday, in the 12 months preceding May 2012, the NSA’s Washington-area intelligence gathering assets identified 2,776 incidents of “unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications.” In just one incident, a “large number” of calls placed from Washington were intercepted by the NSA “when a programming error confused the U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt.”
And these incidents are just from the NSA’s Washington-area facilities. Government officials tell the Post that, “the number would be substantially higher if it included other NSA operating units and regional collection centers.”
Obama’s rapidly shrinking credibility
Obama is already under fire from his own base for refusing to fire Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who has admitted giving false testimony to Congress about the NSA surveillance program. A “We the People” White House petition being promoted by progressive media sites like Daily Kos.
Considering Obama’s now routine selective execution of the existing laws of the United States (from the Obamacare employer mandate delay, to the No Child Left Behind waivers, to the non-enforcement of immigration laws), it is a wonder Obama still has credibility with the American people.
From The Washington Examiner
Editorial: College costs too much because there’s no competition
Ashe Schow: Obama’s approval on economy, taxes, deficit plummets
Conn Carroll: Democrats behind Obama’s economic job approval slide
Rebecca Berg: Cotton ‘a young man in a hurry’ to win Arkansas Senate seat for GOP
Steve Contorno: Ken Cuccinelli warns of enthusiasm drop-off among Tea Party, conservatives
Phil Klein: Three more Planned Parenthood branches win Obamacare grants
David Drucker: Chris Christie rips potential opponents, tells GOP to ‘stop navel gazing’
Michael Barone: Read Almanac of American Politics 2014 introduction online
Joseph Lawler: Walmart blames payroll tax hike for weak sales
Susan Crabtree: State Department closes Cairo embassy, urges Americans to leave Egypt
Brian Hughes: Obama cancels joint military exercise with Egypt
In Other News
McClatchy Newspapers, Scene at overtaxed Cairo morgue is solemn in aftermath of crackdown: On Thursday, as the repercussions of Wednesday’s clearing of sit-ins in support of ousted President Mohammed Morsi sank in for Egyptians, the unprecedented death toll overwhelmed Cairo’s Zeinhoum morgue.
The New York Times, Islamists Debate Their Next Move in Tense Cairo: A quiet settled over Egypt’s capital the day after a crackdown that killed over 600, as the city braced for new protests by the supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.
The Wall Street Journal, Blue Chips Shed 225 Points: Stocks fell the most in a day in eight weeks as bond prices tumbled after stronger-than-expected economic data raised investor anxiety about a pullback next month in central-bank support for financial markets.
The Atlantic, The Killing Machines: How to think about drones.
Isaac Choitner says Obama Triped Over Himself Again on Egypt.
Matthew O’Brien blames Wall Street for American inequality.
Think Progress attacks government funding for crisis pregnancy centers.