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NSA Surveillance Is Legal And Not Targeting Average Americans, Says Texas A&M Professor

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, June 12, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Supposed "bombshell revelations" about NSA surveillance programs are, at this point, much ado about nothing, says a professor at Texas A&M University who contends that the government's monitoring of phone and Internet communications has been going on for years, is completely legal and is not targeting the average U.S. citizen.

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Ron Sievert, a law professor and director of the Advanced International Affairs Program at Texas A&M's Bush School of Government and Public Service, says the so-called "whistleblower" Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, did leak classified information about NSA surveillance programs, but the information was about operations that follow the law.

"Everything that has been disclosed as of this date is not illegal or unconstitutional," he notes.  "Anyone who is saying that what the government is doing is illegal doesn't understand the law."

Sievert, a former Department of Justice litigator and author of the books "Cases And Materials On U.S. Law And National Security" and "Defense, Liberty and the Constitution," has long studied issues related to the law and national security, and says despite media reports to the contrary, "if you are a U.S. citizen and not the subject of an investigation, then no one is reading your emails or listening to your phone calls."

Claims that President Obama has granted sweeping new powers to intercept U.S. communications are simply not true, Sievert says.

"And this 'whistleblower' probably didn't understand that these programs are not illegal," he adds.

One of the programs in question, known as PRISM, involved the monitoring of emails of foreign citizens outside the country, Sievert says, not American citizens.

Since only the emails of foreign citizens were intercepted, Sievert says the program was not unconstitutional. "The Supreme Court held in the Verdugo case (1990) that foreign citizens do not have our 4 th Amendment Constitutional right [against unreasonable search and seizure], and so there is no constitutional violation," he insists. "Moreover, it appears these were monitored pursuant to a court order."

The other surveillance program under suspicion, the collection of phone call data, does involve U.S. citizens, but Sievert says, "they're only looking at the numbers that are being called, not listening to the content of the calls."

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