Watergate was just a private break-in by private actors. To preclude either Watergate or Cointelpro from ever occurring again, and in response to Justice Douglas’ warnings about illegal uses of electronic surveillance, Congress passed laws to conform surveillance to the twin mandates of the First and Fourth Amendment.
The means our government uses — to protect the First and Fourth Amendment rights of Americans without sacrificing the country’s security needs for information gathering on foreign threats — is a process known as “minimization” and “masking.”
Violating these provisions does more than violate mere regulatory restrictions; violating these provisions violates the Constitutional rights of Americans. That is why the law criminalizes such action when taken “under color of law” by rogue agents.
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