On Tuesday, Barack Obama insisted that the US government isn’t spying on Americans by surveilling the contents of their communications. Less than two days later, the New York Times makes hash of that claim. The NSA, reports Charlie Savage, sifts through the content of “vast amounts” of electronic communications between Americans and people abroad in their search for links to terrorism, and not just the metadata:
The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials.
The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.