By now you will have heard of the Guardian’s release yesterday, along with an article by Glenn Greenwald and James Ball, of two 2009 memos from AG Holder to the NSA to the effect that the goal of the surveillance we’ve heard about in recent weeks is to catch foreign terrorists and not “US persons,” but spelling out the exceptions for things like where there is difficulty in determining if the person is really foreign, where the communication is encrypted, and so on, in which cases the communication can be kept for analysis.

So far the response to the new revelation has not expressed sympathy toward Holder’s missives. GG and Ball themselves say that the provisions in the documents “appear to clash with assurances from President Obama and senior intelligence officials that the NSA could not access Americans’ call or email information without warrants.” Our own Kevin Gosztola opines:

As is clear, the NSA does not have a policy to explicitly target US persons. What it has is a policy that allows for exception upon exception upon exception to be made to allow analysts to collect data or information it might think it must hoard in a database.

Or, as an ACLU attorney quoted in the New York Times article on the disclosure puts it, “the exceptions swallow the rule.” Slate and WaPo (on its second try) also have decent articles.

Well know ye, NYT, WaPo, FDL Dissenter and all ye other peasants out there, the rubber stamp representative of the judicial branch has spoken and deems ye out of order. A few hours ago the Guardian released another new document, an August, 2010 order signed by a FISA judge which says that, after certain amendments to older directives,

the revised NSA, FBI and CIA minimization procedures submitted with the amendment “are consistent with the requirements of [50 U.S.C. Ia(e)] and with the fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States,

and that,

accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED, pursuant to 50 U.S.C. 1881a(i)(3)(A), that such certification, as amended, and the use of such procedures are approved.

Such is the judgment from on high, people. What say ye?

E. F. Beall

E. F. Beall