Appearing on MSNBC Monday morning, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald smacked down “White House talking points” he said were being repurposed by “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, saying the National Security Agency’s spying programs are flatly unconstitutional and that her defense of them was misleading.
“Quickly, I just want an answer yes or no,” Brzezinski began. “Isn’t it the case that reviewing of emails or any wiretapping cannot take place without an additional warrant from a judge and a review? It’s not like there’s haphazard probing into all of our personal emails. Can we put this into context so we understand exactly what’s going on?”
Greenwald didn’t even hesitate, blowing past Mika’s request for a one-word response.
“Yeah, I’ll put it into context for you: the White House talking points that you’re using are completely misleading and false. The whole point of what the Bush administration did when it disregarded and violated the FISA law, and then when Congress on a bipartisan basis enacted a new surveillance law in 2008 was to enable the NSA to read emails between people in the United States and people outside of the United States without having to first go to a FISA court and get a warrant. The only time individual warrants are needed is when two people are both within the United States and are both American citizens.”
Brzezinski didn’t like his response. “I’m not using talking points, Glenn,” she said, suggesting Greenwald failed to answer her question. “I’d like to put this into perspective. Is the law being broken?”
Another guest, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haas, replied that it is not, but hedged a bit, cautioning that the current law may strike many as “expansive.” Greenwald fired back, saying that if it really is legal, the Obama administration should let the courts rule on it instead of shutting down cases with procedural claims of state secrets and national security exceptions.
“The ACLU and other groups have been trying for five years now to go into court and challenge the constitutionality of the surveillance law by claiming that it violates the Fourth Amendment. We do have a Constitution in the United States regarding searches and seizures. The U.S. government has successfully blocked any challenge on the grounds that we keep it a secret, who it is that we eves drop on, and since we keep it a secret no one person can say they’ve been eves dropped on, and therefore have no standing in court to challenge the law.”
“So if you want to talk about legality, the Obama Justice Department has repeatedly blocked courts from ruling on the legality, mainly the constitutionality of this law,” he concluded. “If they think it’s so legal, let there be a challenge in court.”
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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