Surveillance during the Obama administration might have even reached the Supreme Court, Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said Monday.
Napolitano focused much of his interview with Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business Network on recent concerns voiced by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that he was a subject of surveillance. Napolitano also added something he was told by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“Justice Scalia told me that he often thought the court was being surveilled. And he told me that probably four or five years ago,” Napolitano said.
The extent to which the Obama administration conducted surveillance on domestic, political targets has been an ongoing Washington narrative since March, when President Donald Trump accused former President Barack Obama of having him under surveillance. Since that time, media accounts have identified former national security adviser Susan Rice as the official who unmasked the identities of Americans caught up in surveillance.
Napolitano said the ramifications of the Obama administration’s domestic surveillance dwarf those of the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“It’s about your own government spying on the opposition party. That would be enormous if it’s true,” he said.
On May 5, Paul formally requested information on whether or not he was under surveillance. No public response has been made to that request.
Napolitano suggested that claims of surveillance are “most likely true.”
“Think of this as a three-step process: Surveillance, which is acquisition in a digital version of every keystroke on every computer, and every communication on every cell phone phone and landline phone; storage, which is the maintenance of the digital versions of these communications; and then unmasking, which is accessing this data and finding out the names of the people who are actually surveilled,” he said.
“It is beyond dispute that the NSA has access to, if it wants, it would be unlawful for them to do this, but they have it, every phone call of every person in the United States of America since 2005,” he added.
Napolitano said the critical issue in the alleged domestic surveillance is the way in which any information was used.
“It is the use to which the raw intelligence data can be put that makes it criminal. If they had to unmask Sen. Paul’s name in order to understand a conversation he was having with a foreign agent and the foreign agent was harmful to the United States, they can do that,” he said.
“That’s not what he talking about. They’re talking about them unmasking him while he’s having a conversation with his campaign manager when he’s running in the Republican primary in 2016,” Napolitano said.
“The use of intelligence data for political purposes is a felony … Unmasking is illegal if done for any reason other than national security,” he added.