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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/30/15

Lawmakers only care about others' privacy when their own is at stake

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Reprinted from The Guardian

Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
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The Wall Street Journal published an extensive investigation on Tuesday night detailing how a large NSA spying operation targeting the Israeli government and its prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, also swept up communications of sitting members of Congress.

It shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise that the NSA is spying on Israeli leaders, given Israel has attempted to sabotage US foreign policy objectives like the Iran nuclear deal, and the fact that the Israeli intelligence services are notoriously aggressive in their own spying on the US government (See Newsweek reporter Jeff Stein's excellent series on the extreme lengths Israel will go to spy on United States officials). But this latest story demonstrates the startling powers the NSA holds to collect the communications of other branches of government without repercussion. And it's a prime example of how innocent Americans often end up in the databases of the world's most powerful spy agency.

Unfortunately, it's only when members of Congress are caught up in the NSA's dragnet that many of them start to pretend to care about the privacy of others. Former congressman Pete Hoekstra, who used to head the House intelligence committee and supported the NSA's illegal spying program under George W Bush, tweeted that the NSA and Obama administration should be "prosecuted" if there were "any truth" to the Journal report.

We've seen this before: former Democratic ranking member of the House intel committee Jane Harmon was also a critical defender of Bush's wiretapping program in the mid-2000s -- that is, until she was caught on NSA wiretaps talking to an alleged Israeli agent. Then she quickly changed her tune. Likewise, Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is notorious for defending the NSA no matter the scandal, so strongly condemned the NSA for spying on Germany's Angela Merkel that a lot of people suspected she was so enraged because it was likely she was on some of Merkel's recorded phone calls.

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Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and lawyer who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. He has contributed to  The (more...)
 

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