Associated Press is reporting that NSA may have monitored otherwise-privileged calls between patients and doctors or lawyers and clients, according to the Department of Injustice. Not only that, the government is claiming there appears to be no legal barrier against using this evidence in criminal cases. This is based, of course, on the administration's claim that the warrantless spying "does not violate the Fourth Amendment".
"Although the program does not specifically target the communications of attorneys or physicians, calls involving such persons would not be categorically excluded from interception," the department said.The government goes on the "explain" that the same "general criteria" would apply to doctors' and lawyers' calls as to all other calls monitored under the program: there must be "reason to believe" one party is linked to al Qaeda. Trouble is the administration has been monitoring calls "related to terrorism", not just those involving al Qaeda. And since the administration has been claiming for quite a while now that anyone who doesn't support preznit supports terrorists, there's nothing to keep them from spying on "terrorists" whose only "offense" is not worshipping at the altar of preznit.
Michigan Rep. John Conyers also complains about Justice's evasiveness in answering questions from his committee. "All but two of 45 answers to the House Judiciary Democrats were vague and unresponsive."
"We assure you, however, that the department keeps the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court fully informed regarding information that is relevant to the FISA process..."
This is not all that reassuring, in that the administration has made it abundantly clear that whatever spying the NSA is doing doesn't fall under the purview of the FISA court. They haven't told the FISA judges squat about the program.
The department also avoided questions on whether the administration believes it is legal to wiretap purely domestic calls without a warrant, when al-Qaida activity is suspected. The department wouldn't say specifically that it hasn't been done.
"Interception of the content of domestic communications would present a different legal question," the department said.
Another question the bastards are ducking.