Depth of Udall’s NSA ire grows

Counterterrorism officials have the ability to conduct narrow, focused surveillance, two U.S., senators said after learning more about the breadth of the government’s monitoring of electronic communications.

The release of more than 1,800 pages of once-secret documents also revealed more about the extent of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs and the efforts of a secret court to contain it, Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a statement.

The trove of documents also revealed that the NSA offered narrow requests to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the statement said.

“The fact that the FISA Court was able to handle these requests on an individual basis is further evidence that intelligence agencies can get all of the information that they genuinely need without engaging in the dragnet surveillance of huge numbers of law-abiding Americans,” the senators said.

Both are members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and have hinted at the extent of the surveillance program since revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Udall and Wyden said they were constrained from discussing what they learned in the committee.

“When the executive branch acknowledged last month that ‘rules, regulations and court-imposed standards’ intended to protect Americans’ privacy had been violated thousands of times each year, we said that this confirmation was ‘the tip of a larger iceberg,’” the statement said.

With the release of the FISA court opinions and other documents, Udall and Wyden said that the new information revealed more about the size and shape of the iceberg.

Some significant information, especially regarding violations pertaining to the bulk email records-collection program, remains classified, the senators noted.

The FISA court documents show that it limited the NSA’s access to its bulk phone records-database for much of 2009 and required case-by-case approval to use it.


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