Get PJ Media on your Apple

The PJ Tatler

Matt Vespa


June 16, 2013 - 5:03 pm

In November of 2012, CNET reported that the government would be able to read through your e-mails without a warrant.  Admittedly, I blogged about it.  However, the story turned out to be false. As Kashmir Hill at Forbes reported on November 20, 2012, “The version of the bill that Declan McCullagh [of CNET] excerpts in his report appears to be one of many that have been drafted and passed around, but is not a version that would be considered seriously at a hearing to review the bill next week.’Senator Leahy does not support broad carve outs for warrantless searches of email content,’ says a Senate Judiciary aide. ‘He remains committed to upholding privacy laws and updating the outdated Electronic Privacy Communications Act.”

In all, the story was debunked.  Granted, the NSA was tracking the internet and phone activity of Americans, but it was authorized by a secret warrant issued by the FISA court.  A court that rarely, if ever, turns down a request for covert surveillance. Now, CNET is back. And they’ve dropped another whopper on June 15 claiming that the NSA was listening to Americans’ phone conversations without warrants.

The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.

If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.

Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA’s formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.

Well, that’s exactly not true. Buzzfeed reported on June 15 that Congressman Nadler basically retracted the claim of warrantless phone surveillance.

Update Rep. Nadler in a statement to BuzzFeed says: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”

Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades was skeptical from the beginning.


As a result, CNET’s Declan McCullagh, who reported on this development and the Sen. Leahy story, issued this update.

Updated 6/16 at 11:15 a.m. PT The original headline when the story was published on Saturday was “NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants,” which was changed to “NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls,” to better match the story. The first paragraph was changed to add attribution to Rep. Nadler. Also added was an additional statement that the congressman’s aide sent this morning, an excerpt from a Washington Post story on NSA phone call content surveillance that appeared Saturday, and remarks that Rep. Rogers made on CNN this morning.]

Yet, the Nadler claim is still in the lead paragraph.

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 6.29.32 PM

Matt Vespa is a web editor at and occasional writer for Hot Air, RedState, and Townhall Magazine.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (5)
All Comments   (5)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
The only thing this retraction settles is that it is not LEGAL for them to do this, and that isn't what Snowden said.

What Snowden said was that he had "authorities" to tap in, not that he had "authority". I very clearly heard him say that in the plural. And when said that way, what he means is that he had SYSTEM authorities... access to databases, passwords, etc. That is computer- geek- speak. The hoo-raw over whether or not NSA has LEGAL authority is a misunderstanding of what the man said. Snowden never said he had legal authority. He said he had the capability-- the "authorities".

In light of all that has come out in the past couple of weeks, who on earth would ever believe that no NSA employee would ever peek at the database without a warrant? Pleeeeeeeeeease...

This squabble is in no way settled. I do NOT feel comfortable with this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh wow, you've rebutted one story so you've rebutted the whole thing!

You know folks, maybe we'd believe the NSA when they insist Snowden is wrong and no analyst can access anything without a real (as opposed to kangaroo court broad FISA soaking up billions of calls) warrant if all these other federal agents weren't so lawless. And maybe the Establishment wouldn't look so desperate to discredit Snowden and Greenwald if it weren't for these three other NSA whistleblowers who say, 'Told you so!'
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It sounds to me like a trial balloon rather than Nadler's honest mistake. Nadler is bought and paid for and the big O wanted to see who wants to impeach him.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've been trying to figure this out... the analysts can't access the databases unless they wave a warrant at the computer? How does that work? Some kind of sensing device? Considering the rest of the agencies with enforcement authority, I'd like to see that one demonstrated. ;) /sarc
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Was Nadler confused and a moron before or is he now? Well, that's a mystery that may never be solved ...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
View All