NSA Whistleblowers….. Snowden Isn’t The Only One

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There’s been a lot of focus on Eric Snowden’s role in exposing the Big Government spy machine operating under the NSA. However, going almost unnoticed, there have been two Democrat Senators who have done their best to try and alert the American citizenry of some of the things that are going on, Oregon’s Rob Wyden and Colorado’s Mark Udall.

Back in 2012, both Senators, who are on the eight member Senate Intelligence Committee and get briefed by the NSA, were trying to sound the alarm concerning the alarming over-reach of the NSA, that the government was using loopholes in the Patriot Act to go much further in data collection than the American public could dream of. Of course, because the details of the SIC briefings are classified, they can’t go into detail about the details about exactly what’s going on. In a letter to AG Eric Holder last year, they warned:

We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act. As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn’t know what its government thinks the law says.

The NSA recently issued a fact sheet to try and clarify exactly what the NSA is doing, and appease the public concern over the growing surveillance state. Writing to the General Director of the NSA, they state:

“We were disappointed to see that this factsheet contains an inaccurate statement about how the section 702 authority has been interpreted by the US government,” Wyden and Udall wrote to Alexander, in a letter dated 24 June and acquired by the Guardian.

“In our judgment, this inaccuracy is significant, as it portrays protections for Americans’ privacy as being significantly stronger than they actually are,” the senators write. Yet they specified the “inaccurate” statement only in “the classified attachment to this letter”

According to the Guardian article that appeared today,

Wyden and Udall are backing legislative efforts to disclose more information about how the government interprets its surveillance authorities, and also to restrict the surveillance on Americans’ phone records, which depends on a different legal rationale than section 702 of the Fisa Amendments Act. Both senators have warned for years that the government secretly claimed broader surveillance powers than a plain reading of the laws permitted, but said they were barred from elaborating because of laws protecting classified information. They have also questioned the efficacy of the NSA’s database of millions of Americans’ phone records.

Back in 2011, Wyden wrote this:

“The intelligence community can target individuals who have no connection to terrorist organizations. They can collect business records on law-abiding Americans.”

Too bad the American public wasn’t listening then… But the government certainly was.