For the programs leaked in 2013, see Global surveillance disclosures (2013–present).
NSA warrantless surveillance (also commonly referred to as "warrantless-wiretapping" or "-wiretaps") refers to the surveillance of persons within the United States, including United States citizens, during the collection of notionally foreign intelligence by the National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program.
The controversy expanded to include the press' role in exposing a classified program, the role and responsibility of Congress executive oversight and the scope and extent of presidential powers.
While courts have generally accepted that the President has the power to conduct domestic electronic surveillance within the United States inside the constraints of the Fourth Amendment, no court has held squarely that the Constitution disables the Congress from endeavoring to set limits on that power.
"NSA wiretapping" and "NSA warrantless surveillance" redirect here.
For the related controversy about data-mining of domestic call records, see MAINWAY.
Nacchio, the former CEO of Qwest Communications, appealed an April 2007 insider trading conviction by alleging that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified NSA program that the company thought might be illegal.
Under public pressure, the Administration allegedly ended the program in January 2007 and resumed seeking warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
In 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which relaxed some of the original FISC requirements.
To the contrary, the Supreme Court has stated that Congress does indeed have power to regulate domestic surveillance, and has not ruled on the extent to which Congress can act with respect to electronic surveillance to collect foreign intelligence information. Dozens of civil suits against the government and telecommunications companies over the program were consolidated before the chief judge of the Northern District of California, Vaughn R. One of the cases was a class-action lawsuit against AT&T, focusing on allegations that the company had provided the NSA with its customers' phone and Internet communications for a data-mining operation.
On January 18, 2006 the Congressional Research Service released another report, "Statutory Procedures Under Which Congress Is To Be Informed of U. Intelligence Activities, Including Covert Actions". That report found that "[b]ased upon publicly reported descriptions of the program, the NSA surveillance program would appear to fall more closely under the definition of an intelligence collection program, rather than qualify as a covert action program as defined by statute", and, therefore, found no specific statutory basis for limiting briefings on the terrorist surveillance program. § 4001(a) that forbids the government to detain an American citizen except by act of Congress. Plaintiffs in a second case were the al-Haramain Foundation and two of its lawyers.
In reality, the Administration was secretly breaking the law, and then pleaded with The New York Times not to reveal this.