A top secret document released by defense contractor Edward Snowden appears to prove that the NSA monitored an American law firm while they represented a foreign government engaged in trade disputes with the United States.
The fact that this firm could be acting against U.S. interests is possibly a concern but that doesn’t change the fact that the NSA is spying on a U.S. law firm.
The law firm was representing Indonesian officials in a trade dispute against Australia. The Australian Signals Directorate notified the NSA that they would be surveilling the firm including the confidential conversations involving lawyer-client privilege. They asked for advice from the NSA general counsel’s office and received “clear guidance.”
Why is the Australian Signals Directorate spying on a U.S. firm?
The NSA won’t discuss it or whether the information was shared with U.S. trade officials.
The Times reported that “most attorney-client conversations do not get special protections under American law from N.S.A. eavesdropping…Last year, the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 decision, rebuffed a legal challenge to a 2008 law allowing warrantless wiretapping that was brought in part by lawyers with foreign clients they believed were likely targets of N.S.A. monitoring. ”
The Supreme Court dismissed their fears as “speculative.”
The NSA is not allowed to surveil U.S. companies including law firms without a warrant nor are they allowed to use any of their allies to do it. They claim they don’t which appears to not be true.
They can legally intercept messages between Americans and foreign entities but they have to delete any identification of Americans and other information that is not relevant to understanding the foreign communications.
Both Australia and Indonesia have “trade and security interests in Indonesia, where Islamic terrorist groups that threaten the West have bases.”
However, the U.S. isn’t simply spying to prevent terrorism and cyberattacks, they “routinely spy on trade negotiations, communications of economic officials in other countries and even foreign corporations.”
The FISA court, which issues warrants for wiretapping and other types of surveillance, has said they have been misled by the government. A case in point is the spying on Fox News reporter, James Rosen.
The leaking of these Snowden documents does appear to have a political agenda which has to be considered but it’s hard to see how we still have a Fourth Amendment if the government can spy as they did in the case of this U.S. law firm.
The government is all powerful. They can imprison us without due process now thanks to the NDAA and the Patriot Act. We really need to start speaking up.
The Obama Administration is so noble, they won’t water board total dirtbags but they will surveil the private affairs of innocent Americans.
There needs to be clear policies in place that are made known to the U.S. public to protect us from overreach. Mr. Obama thinks that because he’s the president, he can do whatever he wants.
Read more at the NY Times