Sen. Feinstein: NSA Doesn’t Need Court Order to Search Phone Database

Contradicts Previous Claims of Court Oversight

Previous claims of FISA court oversight, for whatever that would be worth, over the NSA’s program of collecting meta-data on phone calls made within the United States is not true, according to Senate Intelligence Commitee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D – CA)

Feinstein told reporters today that the NSA agent needs to only believe they have a “reasonable cause to believe” someone is connected to terrorism to search through the database for phone numbers that person called.

Theoretically, they could get a court order for additional data on the calls, and authorization to specifically listen in to the calls themselves, but given the huge amount of “meta-data” the NSA is now known to possess, the particulars of phone calls are likely to be rarely of serious interest.

FISA court oversight amounts to little to no protection at any rate, since the court has rubber stamped 100 percent of the requests it has been given over the past year, many of those requests broad culls of data covering millions of Americans.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.