The NSA is watching you and reading your email even though they aren’t supposed to be doing so without a direct court order. Code-named “Pinwale” — the NSA has been using that database to listen in on your inner email thoughts and wonderings.

Under the surveillance program, before the N.S.A. can target and monitor the e-mail messages or telephone calls of Americans suspected of having links to international terrorism, it must get permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Supporters of the agency say that in using computers to sweep up millions of electronic messages, it is unavoidable that some innocent discussions of Americans will be examined. Intelligence operators are supposed to filter those out, but critics say the agency is not rigorous enough in doing so.

The N.S.A. is believed to have gone beyond legal boundaries designed to protect Americans in about 8 to 10 separate court orders issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according to three intelligence officials who spoke anonymously because disclosing such information is illegal. Because each court order could single out hundreds or even thousands of phone numbers or e-mail addresses, the number of individual communications that were improperly collected could number in the millions, officials said. (It is not clear what portion of total court orders or communications that would represent.)

The Obama administration needs to put the stops on Pinwale monitoring and also retroactively remove illegally retrieved evidence that violated the original order. 

We must not allow illegally obtained information to remain in our analysis systems so it can wait to be folded and creased and massaged into forming something now out of what never was.


  1. The founding fathers would have been disgusted had they seen something like Pinwale in action, certainly.

  2. Yes, Gordon. It is unfortunate and disgusting. Obama better clamp down on all these Bush-era illegal activities if he ever hopes to create his own, sterling, legacy.

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