The Obama administration — indeed the president himself — is telling us we needn’t worry about NSA surveillance; they aren’t spying on Americans:
“We don’t have a domestic spying program,” Obama said, according to the media pool report. “What we do have is some mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack. … That information is useful.”
According to the New York Times, he’s lying:
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.