Posted: September 4th, 2013
Overview of NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program
The NSA terrorist surveillance program is a part of the war on terror by the American security within the United States borders. It was initiated by the former president Bush after the September 11 attack. It is concerned with surveillance of people within the United States borders with the aim of collecting foreign intelligence by the NSA, National Security Agency. Under this program, the NSA is authorized by the president, who was given the powers to fight terrorism, to monitor and wiretap phone calls, internet searches, emails and other forms of communication without warrant. The president was granted this power under the Authorization for Use of Military Force, AUMF, which was passed by the congress (U.S. Department of Justice, 2006).
The NSA program is constitutionally legal where the president’s most solemn duty is protecting the people of the nation from foreign attack under all circumstances. Therefore, it was important to allow this program in order to ensure we not only prevent the enemy from outside our borders, but also the enemy from within considering our nation is the biggest immigration destination in the world. In addition, judges rule that the president has the authority to conduct such warrantless searches for foreign intelligence even during times of peace. However, the surveillance has to be of persons believed to be in contact with terrorist groups. In addition, it has to be of international calls. The program only applies to communications between a party in United States and abroad. The tapping is only done when one party in the communication is believed to have connections with one of the terrorist groups. The NSA surveillance activities are monitored and evaluated every 45 days in order to ensure that it is operating well and does not go overboard to violate civil liberties protected by the law. In addition, the officers are thoroughly trained to ensure professionalism (U.S. Department of Justice, 2006).
Differences with 4th Amendment Restrictions
Under the fourth amendment restrictions, police and security officers are not allowed to search a person’s premises or private property without a warrant from a court. On the other hand, NSA terrorist surveillance program does not have to have a warrant in order to search for foreign intelligence. On the other hand, fourth amendment concerns all searches including property such as house and premises, while the NSA program is only concerned with wiretapping of international calls (Wong, 2007). The NSA is only concerned with gathering information about terrorists through electronic surveillance of communication between two parties with one from abroad. NSA program does this under cover without informing the person under surveillance in order to collect information. on to the contrary, under the fourth amendment, the person has to be aware of the search going on since there might also be physical contact where the police have to go to the person’s premises (iccsd.k12.ia.us, 2010).
In the fourth amendment restriction, there is an exclusionary rule that allows police officers to conduct a search under emergency. Under the emergency, the police are allowed to conduct a search with an aim of protecting evidence, preventing any potential escape and protecting the lives of people who might be in danger. After an entry of emergency, the police officers are required to get a warrant before returning for a detailed search. With the NSA program, the aim is usually to protect the citizens of the nation, which do qualify as an emergency, and collecting the information at the right time would be very crucial for giving leads to enhance security of the nation. The fourth amendment usually concern searching of houses, offices, and other premises and private property in order to investigate a crime that has happened. In most cases, the police come to collect evidence from the site. Under this amendment, the warrant has to specify what is being searched, where it is to be searched, and who is the person to be seized as well as things so be seized.
iccsd.k12.ia.us. (2010). The Fourth Amendment. Retrieved from http://www.iccsd.k12.ia.us/Schools/West/faculty/neuzil/we%20the%20people%20folder/readings/constitutionalissues/Fourth%20Amendment.pdf
U.S. Department of Justice. (2006). The NSA Program to Detect and Prevent Terrorist Attacks Myth v. Reality. Retrieved from http://www.justice.gov/opa/documents/nsa_myth_v_reality.pdf
Wong, K.L. (2007). The NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program. Harvard Journal on Legislation, 43, (2): 517.
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