Sources: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, EFF
quote: It's a logical fallacy to state that either such abuses have happened or that they haven't happened without definitive evidence either way.
quote: Reasonable belief is a specific judicial criteria, if the government acted upon information that it coult not convince a judge it had reasonable belief that one of the parties involved was based outside the US that information would be deemed inadmissible.
quote: But it is absurd to think that as badly as DC leaks if there was a widespread interception of communications between American citizens that it would not have come to light. It always has in the past. And any widespread use of warrantless interceptions would be unreasonable and therefore illegal.
quote: While SCOTUS has never ruled on whether the President has the inherent constitutional power to intercept communications between American citizens and foreign powers several federal district courts decided that such action is constitutional.
quote: 1. One possibility is that political officials and/or law enforcement officials could use the law for personal vendettas (e.g. someone fired your wife? wiretap them and get their dirt...)
quote: 2. A more disturbing possibility, though, is that limited selective monitoring could be used to consolidate power to a single party or coalition (e.g. what Nixon was trying to do by bugging his political rivals). Such a monitoring scheme could be carefully limited to keep it out of the public eye. And by the time the abuser completed their power grab, it would be too late -- the process of free government would already have been subverted.
quote: That same process transformed numerous governments into totalitarian regimes in the 1900s. It always began with a more limited crackdown on political rivals, then expanded to a more general police state, once the opposition had been removed. Like the U.S. at present, many of those states were caught up in a nationalist fervor, which the power-grabbers perverted to consolidate power.