The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the NSA under President Obama targeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top aides for surveillance.
In the process, the agency ended up eavesdropping on "the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups" about how to sabotage the Iran Deal.
All sorts of people who spent many years cheering for and defending the NSA and its programs of mass surveillance are suddenly indignant now that they know the eavesdropping included them and their American and Israeli friends rather than just ordinary people.
Pete Hoekstra last night was truly indignant to learn of this surveillance.
In January 2014, I [Greenwald] debated Rep. Hoekstra about NSA spying and he could not have been more mocking and dismissive of the privacy concerns I was invoking. The long-time GOP chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and unyielding NSA defender
"Spying is a matter of fact," he scoffed.
As Andrew Krietz, the journalist who covered that debate, reported, Hoekstra "laughs at foreign governments who are shocked they've been spied on because they, too, gather information" — referring to anger from German and Brazilian leaders.
As TechDirt noted, "Hoekstra attacked a bill called the RESTORE Act, that would have granted a tiny bit more oversight over situations where (you guessed it) the NSA was collecting information on Americans."
But all that, of course, was before Hoekstra knew that he and his Israeli friends were swept up in the spying of which he was so fond.
From the Peanut net gallery:
"What, they thought they were special? they thought they were part of the untouchable elite?"
"Spying on active members of Congress is outside of the authority of the executive branch. Unless they had a warrant when they did this, they are doing exactly what Nixon was going to be impeached for."
"These congresscritters only have themselves to blame since they laid the very foundation for this to happen with things like the Patriot Act. I'll shed crocodile tears for the lot of them."
"Except that, technically, those congresscritters may have been violating the law themselves by engaging in direct diplomacy with foreign powers, which is a felony (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] )."
" NSA is tasked with gathering signals intelligence from foreign sources. Communications originating and staying within the US is off limits (or used to be).
Overseas phone calls to a foreign head of state to collude on how to sabotage a significant US bill in Congress are fair game.
In fact, the FBI should be brought in to investigate those Congressional members for possible treason."
"No. According to the Supreme Court, only the President is authorized to actually negotiate with foreign leaders. The Senate may advise him and ultimately must approve any proposed treaty, but they may only negotiate it through the President."
"If the target of the surveillance is a foreign head of state (Netanyahu), it's not the NSA's fault that US legislators happened to be calling that foreign head of state to get their marching orders.
In fact, members of congress dealing directly with foreign heads of state directly violates the Logan Act, and it would absolutely be appropriate for the NSA to be looking into this. Maybe Pete Hoekstra (R-Tel Aviv) should be answering some questions.
"Of course, members of both parties have violated it in the past, and it largely goes unenforced as no one has actually been prosecuted for it since 1803."
Last week, Yahoo became the latest company promising to alert users who it suspected were being targeted by state-sponsored attacks (excepting Microsoft, who made a similar announcement just today).
Twitter, Facebook and Google had previously assured their users that they would be warned of any potential government spying.
The UK, it seems, isn't happy about this.
They are pushing through a bill that will punish the leaders of any company that warns its users about British snooping with up to two years in prison.
Specifically, UK ministers want to make it a criminal offense for tech firms to warn users of requests for access to their communication data made by security organizations such as MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.