The United States promised we’d never spy on the Brits — we lied!

The National Security Agency is authorized to spy on the citizens of America’s closest allies, including Britain, even though those English-speaking countries have long had an official non-spying pact, according to a newly disclosed memorandum.

The classified N.S.A. document, which appears to be a draft and is dated January 2005, states that under specific circumstances, the American intelligence agency may spy on citizens of Britain without that country’s consent or knowledge. The memo, provided by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, is labeled secret and “NOFORN,” indicating that it may not be shared with any foreign country…

The memo was provided by Mr. Snowden to The Guardian, which shared it with The New York Times. The N.S.A. also declined to say whether the memorandum merely codified longstanding American practice or was breaking new ground…blah, blah, blah, the agency said in a written reply to questions…

One paragraph, marked secret, appears to suggest that the preferred option is to gain permission from the country whose citizens are to be spied upon. But the very next paragraph, marked secret and NOFORN, indicates that the N.S.A. can go it alone if permission is not forthcoming — or if United States chooses not to ask.

Sounds like the country we’ve all come to know and revere for its respect for constitutional democracy and citizens’ right to privacy. Just not in the last five or six decades.

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