If you emailed a friend, family member or colleague overseas today (or if, from abroad, you emailed someone in the US), chances are that the NSA made a copy of that email and searched it for suspicious information.
The NSA appears to believe this general monitoring of our electronic communications is justified because the entire process takes, in one official’s words, “a small number of seconds”. Translation: the NSA thinks it can intercept and then read Americans’ emails so long as the intrusion is swift, efficient and silent.
That is not how the fourth amendment works.
Whether the NSA inspects and retains these messages for years, or only searches through them once before moving on, the invasion of Americans’ privacy is real and immediate. There is no “five-second rule” for fourth amendment violations: the US constitution does not excuse these bulk searches simply because they happen in the blink of an eye.
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