George H.W. Bush to vote for Hillary Clinton

George H.W. Bush to vote for Hillary Clinton

A Kennedy outs a Bush who favors a Clinton.
By DARREN SAMUELSOHN 09/19/16 11:20 PM EDT Updated 09/19/16 11:36 PM EDT

Former President George H.W. Bush is bucking his party’s presidential nominee and plans to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, according to a member of another famous political family, the Kennedys.
Bush, 92, had intended to stay silent on the White House race between Clinton and Donald Trump, a sign in and of itself of his distaste for the GOP nominee. But his preference for the wife of his own successor, President Bill Clinton, nonetheless became known to a wider audience thanks to Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend, the former Maryland lieutenant governor and daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy.

On Monday, Townsend posted a picture on her Facebook page shaking hands next to the former president and this caption: “The President told me he’s voting for Hillary!!”
In a telephone interview, Townsend said she met with the former president in Maine earlier today, where she said he made his preference known that he was voting for a Democrat. “That’s what he said,” she told POLITICO.

Asked about Townsend’s post, George H.W. Bush spokesman Jim McGrath in an email replied, “The vote President Bush will cast as a private citizen in some 50 days will be just that: a private vote cast in some 50 days. He is not commenting on the presidential race in the interim.”

George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush have stayed out of the political debate since campaigning earlier this year for their son Jeb’s unsuccessful bid for president. Neither George H.W. Bush nor his son, former President George W. Bush, attended this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland where Trump accepted the nomination.

jeb

George W. Bush Bashes Obama on Middle East

In a closed-door meeting with Jewish donors on Saturday night, former President George W. Bush delivered his harshest public criticisms to date against his successor on foreign policy, saying that President Barack Obama is being naïve about Iran and the pending nuclear deal and losing the war against the Islamic State.

One attendee at the Republican Jewish Coalition session, held at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas with owner Sheldon Adelson in attendance, transcribed large portions of Bush’s remarks. The former president, who rarely ever criticizes Obama in public, at first remarked that the idea of re-entering the political arena was something he didn’t want to do. He then proceeded to explain why Obama, in his view, was placing the U.S. in “retreat” around the world. He also said Obama was misreading Iran’s intentions while relaxing sanctions on Tehran too easily.

According to the attendee’s transcription, Bush noted that Iran has a new president, Hassan Rouhani. “He’s smooth,” Bush said. “And you’ve got to ask yourself, is there a new policy or did they just change the spokesman?”

Bush said that Obama’s plan to lift sanctions on Iran with a promise that they could snap back in place at any time was not plausible. He also said the deal would be bad for American national security in the long term: “You think the Middle East is chaotic now? Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That’s how Americans should view the deal.”

Bush then went into a detailed criticism of Obama’s policies in fighting the Islamic State and dealing with the chaos in Iraq. On Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of 2011, he quoted Senator Lindsey Graham calling it a “strategic blunder.” Bush signed an agreement with the Iraqi government to withdraw those troops, but the idea had been to negotiate a new status of forces agreement to keep U.S. forces there past 2011. The Obama administration tried and failed to negotiate such an agreement.

Bush said he views the rise of the Islamic State as al-Qaeda’s “second act” and that they may have changed the name but that murdering innocents is still the favored tactic. He defended his own administration’s handling of terrorism, noting that the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed to killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was captured on his watch: “Just remember the guy who slit Danny Pearl’s throat is in Gitmo, and now they’re doing it on TV.”

Obama promised to degrade and destroy Islamic State’s forces but then didn’t develop a strategy to complete the mission, Bush said. He said that if you have a military goal and you mean it, “you call in your military and say ‘What’s your plan?’ ” He indirectly touted his own decision to surge troops to Iraq in 2007, by saying, “When the plan wasn’t working in Iraq, we changed.”

“In order to be an effective president … when you say something you have to mean it,” he said. “You gotta kill em.”

Bush told several anecdotes about his old friend and rival Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bush recalled that Putin met his dog Barney at the White House and then later, when Bush went to Moscow, Putin showed him his dog and remarked that he was “bigger stronger and faster than Barney.” For Bush, that behavior showed him that Putin didn’t think in “win-win” terms.

Bush also remarked that Putin was rich, divorced his wife and loves power. Putin’s domestic popularity comes from his control of Russian media, according to Bush. “Hell, I’d be popular, too, if I owned NBC news,” he said.

Regarding his brother Jeb’s potential run for the presidency, Bush acknowledged that he was a political liability for Jeb, that the Bush name can be used against him, and that Americans don’t like dynasties. He also said that foreign policy is going to be especially important in the presidential campaign and that the test for Republicans running will be who has got the “courage” to resist isolationist tendencies.

Regarding Hillary Clinton, Bush said it will be crucial how she plays her relationship with the president. She will eventually have to choose between running on the Obama administration’s policies or running against them. If she defends them, she’s admitting failure, he said, but if she doesn’t she’s blaming the president.

For George W. Bush, the remarks in Vegas showed he has little respect for how the current president is running the world. He also revealed that he takes little responsibility for the policies that he put in place that contributed to the current state of affairs.

Franklin Graham: Both Obama And Bush ‘Have Done A Great Disservice,’ Calling Islam Peaceful

franklin_graham copy

Franklin Graham: Both Obama And Bush ‘Have Done A Great Disservice,’ Calling Islam Peaceful

“Mr. President—followers of a peaceful religion do not cut off the heads of innocent people.”

In a commentary for Decision magazine, evangelist Franklin Graham calls out both President Obama and President Bush for defending Islam as a religion of peace.

Graham is reacting specifically to Obama’s speech before the U.N. in September in which the president said, “Islam teaches peace,” and also to George W. Bush, who, days after 9/11, said, “Islam is peace.”

Graham writes:

Both men have done a great disservice to the American public by not understanding Islam and its teaching in the Quran.

The day after Obama addressed the U.N. in September, Graham recalls that he stood across from the White House in Lafayette Square with the hope that the president would hear his message in praying for the release of imprisoned Iranian-American Christian Saeed Abedini:

Mr. President—followers of a peaceful religion do not cut off the heads of innocent people in the barbaric fashion the world has watched recently.

Mr. President—believers in a peaceful religion do not kidnap 300 young schoolgirls as Boko Haram did in northeastern Nigeria in April and reportedly [sell] them to men to be sex slaves.

Mr. President—men who practice a peaceful religion do not detonate bombs on an American street during a marathon race to kill and maim innocent people.

Mr. President—no one who belongs to a peaceful religion would even consider hijacking jet airliners and flying them into buildings occupied by thousands of innocent people beginning their workday, as happened in this country and in this city on 9/11.

Mr. President—no peaceful religion would tolerate, let alone practice, female circumcision, require a woman to have her husband’s permission to leave her home and take up employment, and restrict her ability to receive justice in the case of sex crimes.

Mr. President—a peaceful religion would not condone and allow a father to drown a daughter in a swimming pool in front of the family in the name of family honor because she might have stayed out late in the evening with her boyfriend.

Mr. President—why haven’t the 3.5 million Muslims in North America rejected this gross, barbaric and despicable behavior by their fellow Muslims on American soil?

And that is Graham’s question left unanswered. He adds: “Why haven’t many, if not most, of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world condemned these violent crimes against innocent humanity as they have occurred? Why would 23 percent of the world’s population stand by and allow their fellow Muslims to define them by violent behavior if this is truly a religion of peace?”

Christians, Graham affirms, “quickly and unanimously rise together to condemn” violent acts in the name of Christianity. “I cannot recall a single instance of violent behavior supposedly done in the name of Christianity that was not immediately repudiated by the Christian community,” he writes.

Graham calls Islam a “false religion…guided and characterized by treacherous deceit.” Furthermore, he concludes that a false religion can never be a true religion of peace. Only true religion that reconciles “a holy God and sinful man” can “bring lasting peace.”

He is not implying every false religion engages in “barbaric behavior,” but none of them, he says, “can deliver from the damning power of sin:”

Christ alone, the Son of God, saves from sin, Satan and death. He died on the cross for our sins, was buried and rose again from the dead.

My earnest prayer is that the Lord will use the chaotic and frightening events we see happening on the world stage to drive people, including followers of Islam, to the only solution—personal, transforming faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Kanye West on Obama’s Failures: ‘Black People Don’t Have the Same Connections as Jewish People’

Kanye West on Obama’s Failures: ‘Black People Don’t Have the Same Connections as Jewish People’

By Noel Sheppard | November 27, 2013 | 19:39

 303  286 Reddit5  51
A  A
Noel Sheppard's picture

You know why Barack Obama is having problems executing his agenda?

Rapper Kanye West told 105.1 FM radio in New York City earlier this week that it’s because “Black people don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people” (video follows with transcript and commentary):

KANYE WEST: We don’t got it like that. When I tell you only seven black billionaires, look at marginalization, and we feel like we happy because me and Rick Ross got it made, or I got a spread outside, a couple of us, or they put a black president.

Man, let me tell you something about George Bush and oil money and Obama and no money. People want to say Obama can’t make these moves or he’s not executing. That’s because he ain’t got those connections. Black people don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people. Black people don’t have the same connection as oil people.

You know we don’t know nobody that got a nice house. You know we don’t know nobody with paper like that we can go to when we down. You know they can just put us back or put us in a corporation. You know we ain’t in situation. Can you guarantee that your daughter can get a job at this radio station? But if you own this radio station, you could guarantee that. That’s what I’m talking about.

I’m not sure what connections in the business world have to do with executing as president once you’re in office, do you?

Frankly, I think Obama’s failures have more to do with the fact that he never was in the business world and never ran anything.

That said, I guess West wasn’t aware that in the 2012 campaign, Obama’s connections helped him raise and spend more money than Mitt Romney.

Forbes reported in October 2012 about Obama’s top backers:

James Simons: $4.1 million

The hedge fund ‘quant king’ is the biggest billionaire donor to the left, giving $2 million to Obama-backing super PAC Priorities USA Action as well as supporting left-leaning Majority PAC and House Majority PAC.

– Irwin Jacobs : $2.1 million

The retired head of chip manufacturer Qualcomm also cut a $2 million check to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing Obama’s reelection.

– Jon Stryker: $2 million

Medical device heir, like Jacobs and Simons, pitched in $2 million to Priorities USA Action. He’s also a longtime donor to LGBT causes.

– Anne Cox Chambers: $1.6 million

The 92-year-old Cox Enterprises TV billionaire backed Obama supporters Priorities USA Action.

– George Soros: $1.275 million

The legendary investor hasn’t supported Obama directly, but he’s contributed to left-leaning groups Majority PAC, House Majority PAC, and American Bridge 21st Century.

– Haim Saban: $1 million

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers mogul has divided his donation between C Priorities USA Action and left-leaning Majority PAC and House Majority PAC.

The following are Obama For America’s top billionaire ‘bundlers’, who’ve fundraised from their wealthy networks rather than given directly to any super PAC or other outside group. Obama’s campaign team provides a range rather than actual numbers.

– David Shaw, New York hedge funder: $500k+

– James Crown, of the Henry Crown dynasty of investors: $500k+

– Marc Lasry, New York hedge funder: $500k+

– Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce.com: $500k+

– Penny Pritzker, business executive and Hyatt hotel heiress: $200k-$500k

As for George W. Bush, his net worth is estimated to be $35 million. West’s is $100 million.

Makes you sorry for him, doesn’t it?

About the Author

Noel Sheppard is the Associate Editor of NewsBusters. Click here to follow Noel Sheppard on Twitter.

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2013/11/27/kanye-west-obamas-failures-black-people-don-t-have-same-connections-j#ixzz2lxfmYuEH

KERRY COMPARES SYRIAN INTERVENTION TO NORMANDY INVASION

KERRY COMPARES SYRIAN INTERVENTION TO NORMANDY INVASION

 44
 0
by TONY LEE 4 Sep 2013 142POST A COMMENT

On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry compared possible military intervention in Syria to the invasion of Normandy during World War II.

Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Kerry said that “there are a lot of folks out there who are committed to violent acts against lots of different people. We have to defend ourselves.”

After emphasizing that intervening in Syria is a “direct interest in our credibility,” Kerry said, “You ask the question, ‘Why does the United States have to be out there?'”

“You ever been to the cemetery in France? Ya know, above those beaches? Why’d those guys have to go do that?” Kerry said.

In response to Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), Kerry said those who died in Normandy did so while “standing up with people for a set of values and fighting for freedom.” He said “no country has liberated as much land or fought as many battles as the United States of America and turned around and given it back to the people who live there and can own it, run it.”

Kerry said America was, in that sense, the “indispensable” nation and that a lot of moderate people in the Middle East “count on us.”

Throughout the testimony, though, Kerry emphasized that he did not believe intervention in Syria would be considered “war” in his definition and continued to emphasize that he did not believe American ground troops would be needed in Syria.

Obama’s Crisis of Competence

Obama’s Crisis of Competence

The White House seems more comfortable stage-managing the news than dealing with the uncomfortable crises that inevitably crop up.

By 

Updated: July 3, 2013 | 8:28 a.m.
July 3, 2013 | 7:01 a.m.

President Obama and former President George W. Bush pause for a moment of silence during a wreath-laying ceremony to honor the victims of the U.S. Embassy bombing in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Obama returned last night from a weeklong trip to Africa, seeking to position himself as part of ailing Nelson Mandela’s legacy and generating strategic photo-ops. On the other side of the continent, Egypt is awash in revolution, with hundreds of thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square railing against the American-backed president, with some chanting slogans against the American passivity in the face of crisisThe Washington Post editorialized Tuesday: “For months, as the Morsi government has taken steps to consolidate power, quash critics and marginalize independent civil society groups, President Obama and his top aides have been largely silent in public. No effort was made to use the leverage of U.S. aid to compel a change of policy.”

While the president was in Africa, Secretary of State John Kerry spent time in Israel, using valuable political capital trying to jump-start peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, at a time when few serious foreign policy analysts believe it has any chance of succes—beyond garnering favorable press for trying. (The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg calls Kerry’s a “delusion of the foreignpolicy elite” in his column today.) This, while the administration appears utterly feckless in neighboring Syria, where civil war worsens, chemical weapons-wielding dictator Bashar al-Assad strengthens his hold on power, and American influence dwindles. “The military situation in Syria is slipping away as the president ponders,” Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl wrote last week.

And on the domestic front, Obama was comfortably traveling on Air Force One when a Treasury Department functionary announced late Tuesday it would be delaying the mandate that businesses provide health care for their employee—a crucial component in the health care law that is shaping up as the president’s main legacy. Rather than give a speech explaining the delay, and informing the public about how this could affect their health care options, the administration dropped the bombshell news right before the July Fourth holiday weekend.

The administration is facing a crisis of competence. At a time when trust in government is already at an all-time low, the events of this past week illustrate the limits of this president’s power. The White House seems more comfortable stage-managing the news than dealing with the uncomfortable crises that inevitably crop up. (If there’s anything to learn from the Benghazi crisis, it was the administration’s attentiveness to detail in how to avoid blame in the aftermath of the crisis but a lack of focus in how to react as the crisis was occurring.)

The other worrying sign, is that politics is getting in the way of smart policymaking. Wary of the last war in the Middle East, Americans don’t want the United States to intervene in Syria. The White House, heeding the polls, gladly obliged, even figuring out ways to forestall proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people—the red line that the president famously set. Obama doesn’t want to say anything to take sides between the Egyptian president he backed and the growing throngs of protesters, and then take ownership in a crisis that’s showing no signs of abating. Politically speaking, it’s a lose-lose situation.

On health care, with the 2014 midterms approaching and control of the Senate in play, the administration decided to buy time by delaying the employer mandate until after the elections. Former HHS spokesman Nick Papas said the delay was “about minimizing paperwork, not politics.” But it’s awfully politically convenient to delay implementation of a law that’s been growing more unpopular and whose implementation is shaping up to be a “train wreck,” in the words of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat.

Obama’s second-term legacy is shaping up to be more about avoiding crises than accomplishing big things. Salvage the core of a health care law, avoid worst-case scenarios in Egypt and Syria, and don’t get in the way of his party’s efforts to win Republican support for a landmark immigration reform plan. It’s a far cry from the idealism of his second inaugural. But at this point, the president needs to simply show that he’s paying attention to the fires burning around him.

NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls.

NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls

National Security Agency discloses in secret Capitol Hill briefing that thousands of analysts can listen to domestic phone calls. That authorization appears to extend to e-mail and text messages too.

Declan McCullagh
by Declan McCullagh

June 15, 2013 4:39 PM PDT

NSA Director Keith Alexander says his agency's analysts, which until recently included Edward Snowden among their ranks, take protecting "civil liberties and privacy and the security of this nation to their heart every day."NSA Director Keith Alexander says his agency’s analysts, which until recently included Edward Snowden among their ranks, take protecting “civil liberties and privacy and the security of this nation to their heart every day.”(Credit: Getty Images)

The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”

If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.

Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA’s formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.

James Owens, a spokesman for Nadler, provided a statement on Sunday morning, a day after this article was published, saying: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.” Owens said he couldn’t comment on what assurances from the Obama administration Nadler was referring to, and said Nadler was unavailable for an interview. (CNET had contacted Nadler for comment on Friday.)

Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, being able to listen to phone calls would mean the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.

Nadler’s initial statement appears to confirm some of the allegations made by Edward Snowden, a former NSA infrastructure analyst who leaked classified documents to the Guardian. Snowden said in a video interview that, while not all NSA analysts had this ability, he could from Hawaii “wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president.”

There are serious “constitutional problems” with this approach, said Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has litigated warrantless wiretapping cases. “It epitomizes the problem of secret laws.”

The NSA declined to comment to CNET. (This is unrelated to the disclosure that the NSA is currently collecting records of the metadata of all domestic Verizon calls, but not the actual contents of the conversations.)

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the head of the House Intelligence committee, told CNN on Sunday that the NSA “is not listening to Americans’ phone calls” or monitoring their e-mails, and any statements to the contrary are “misinformation.” It would be “illegal” for the NSA to do that, Rogers said.

The Washington Post disclosed Saturday that the existence of a top-secret NSA program called NUCLEON, which “intercepts telephone calls and routes the spoken words” to a database. Top intelligence officials in the Obama administration, the Post said, “have resolutely refused to offer an estimate of the number of Americans whose calls or e-mails have thus made their way into content databases such as ­NUCLEON.”

A portion of the NSA's mammoth data center in Bluffdale, Utah, scheduled to open this fall.A portion of the NSA’s mammoth data center in Bluffdale, Utah, scheduled to open this fall.(Credit: Getty Images)

Earlier reports have indicated that the NSA has the ability to record nearly all domestic and international phone calls — in case an analyst needed to access the recordings in the future. A Wired magazine article last year disclosed that the NSA has established “listening posts” that allow the agency to collect and sift through billions of phone calls through a massive new data center in Utah, “whether they originate within the country or overseas.” That includes not just metadata, but also the contents of the communications.

William Binney, a former NSA technical director who helped to modernize the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network, told the Daily Caller this week that the NSA records the phone calls of 500,000 to 1 million people who are on its so-called target list, and perhaps even more. “They look through these phone numbers and they target those and that’s what they record,” Binney said.

Brewster Kahle, a computer engineer who founded the Internet Archive, has vast experience storing large amounts of data. He created a spreadsheet this week estimating that the cost to store all domestic phone calls a year in cloud storage for data-mining purposes would be about $27 million per year, not counting the cost of extra security for a top-secret program and security clearances for the people involved.

NSA’s annual budget is classified but is estimated to be around $10 billion.

Documents that came to light in an EFF lawsuit provide some insight into how the spy agency vacuums up data from telecommunications companies. Mark Klein, who worked as an AT&T technician for over 22 years, disclosed in 2006 (PDF) that he witnessed domestic voice and Internet traffic being surreptitiously “diverted” through a “splitter cabinet” to secure room 641A in one of the company’s San Francisco facilities. The room was accessible only to NSA-cleared technicians.

AT&T and other telecommunications companies that allow the NSA to tap into their fiber links receive absolute immunity from civil liability or criminal prosecution, thanks to a law that Congress enacted in 2008 and renewed in 2012. It’s a series of amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, also known as the FISA Amendments Act.

That law says surveillance may be authorized by the attorney general and director of national intelligence without prior approval by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as long as minimization requirements and general procedures blessed by the court are followed.

A requirement of the 2008 law is that the NSA “may not intentionally target any person known at the time of acquisition to be located in the United States.” A possible interpretation of that language, some legal experts said, is that the agency may vacuum up everything it can domestically — on the theory that indiscriminate data acquisition was not intended to “target” a specific American citizen.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, an attorney and member of the House Judiciary committee, who said he was "startled" to learn that NSA analysts could eavesdrop on domestic calls without court authorization.Rep. Jerrold Nadler, an attorney and member of the House Judiciary committee, who said he was “startled” to learn that NSA analysts could eavesdrop on domestic calls without court authorization.(Credit: Getty Images)

Rep. Nadler’s statement that NSA analysts can listen to calls without court orders came during a House Judiciary hearing on June 13 that included FBI director Robert Mueller as a witness.

Mueller initially sought to downplay concerns about NSA surveillance by claiming that, to listen to a phone call, the government would need to seek “a special, a particularized order from the FISA court directed at that particular phone of that particular individual.”

Is information about that procedure “classified in any way?” Nadler asked.

“I don’t think so,” Mueller replied.

“Then I can say the following,” Nadler said. “We heard precisely the opposite at the briefing the other day. We heard precisely that you could get the specific information from that telephone simply based on an analyst deciding that…In other words, what you just said is incorrect. So there’s a conflict.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the head of the Senate Intelligence committee, separately acknowledged that the agency’s analysts have the ability to access the “content of a call.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence committee, acknowledged this week that NSA analysts have the ability to access the "content of a call."Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence committee, acknowledged this week that NSA analysts have the ability to access the “content of a call.”(Credit: Getty Images)

Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell indicated during a House Intelligence hearing in 2007 that the NSA’s surveillance process involves “billions” of bulk communications being intercepted, analyzed, and incorporated into a database.

They can be accessed by an analyst who’s part of the NSA’s “workforce of thousands of people” who are “trained” annually in minimization procedures, he said. (McConnell, who had previously worked as the director of the NSA, is now vice chairman at Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden’s former employer.)

If it were “a U.S. person inside the United States, now that would stimulate the system to get a warrant,” McConnell told the committee. “And that is how the process would work. Now, if you have foreign intelligence data, you publish it [inside the federal government]. Because it has foreign intelligence value.”

McConnell said during a separate congressional appearance around the same time that he believed the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without warrants.

Former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente told CNN last month that, in national security investigations, the bureau can access records of a previously made telephone call. “All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not,” he said. Clementeadded in an appearance the next day that, thanks to the “intelligence community” — an apparent reference to the NSA — “there’s a way to look at digital communications in the past.”

NSA Director Keith Alexander said on June 12 that his agency’s analysts abide by the law: “They do this lawfully. They take compliance oversight, protecting civil liberties and privacy and the security of this nation to their heart every day.”

But that’s not always the case. A New York Times article in 2009 revealed the NSA engaged in significant and systemic “overcollection” of Americans’ domestic communications that alarmed intelligence officials. The Justice Department said in a statement at the time that it “took comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance” with the law.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, says he was surprised to see the 2008 FISA Amendments Act be used to vacuum up information on American citizens. “Everyone who voted for the statute thought it was about international communications,” he said.

Updated 6/16 at 11:15 a.m. PT The original headline when the story was published on Saturday was “NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants,” which was changed to “NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls,” to better match the story. The first paragraph was changed to add attribution to Rep. Nadler. Also added was an additional statement that the congressman’s aide sent this morning, an excerpt from a Washington Post story on NSA phone call content surveillance that appeared Saturday, and remarks that Rep. Rogers made on CNN this morning.]