NSA spying has a disproportionate effect on U.S. immigrants

Conor Friedersdorf writes: The U.S. government concedes that it needs a warrant to eavesdrop on phone calls between Americans, or to read the body of their emails to one another. Everyone agrees that these communications are protected by the Fourth Amendment. But the government also argues that Fourth Amendment protections don’t apply when an American calls or writes to a foreigner in another country.

Let’s say, for example, that the head of the NAACP writes an email to a veteran of the South African civil-rights struggle asking for advice about an anti-racism campaign; or that Hillary Clinton fields a call from a friend in Australia whose daughter was raped; or that Jeb Bush uses Skype to discuss with David Cameron whether he should seek the 2016 presidential nomination for the Republican Party. Under the Obama administration’s logic, these Americans have no reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to these conversations, and it is lawful and legitimate for the NSA to eavesdrop on, record, and store everything that is said.

The arguments Team Obama uses to justify these conclusions are sweeping and worrisome, as the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer captures in his analysis of the relevant legal briefs: [Continue reading…]

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