Get PJ Media on your Apple

Obama Tries to Calm a Handful of Surveillance Critics in Closed-Door Meeting

But lawmakers already upset over evidence that Congress was misled by the administration now have a new revelation to get angry about.

Bridget Johnson


August 1, 2013 - 7:27 pm
<- Prev  Page 2 of 2   View as Single Page

Wyden noted that he and Udall “spent a significant portion of 2011 pressing the Intelligence Community to provide evidence to support the claims that they had made about the bulk email records program.”

“They were unable to do so, and the program was shut down due to a lack of operational value, as senior intelligence officials have now publicly confirmed,” he said.

And again, he stressed the deception.

“While I believe that releasing these documents is a welcome step toward greater openness and more informed debate about domestic surveillance programs, they are, in fact, further evidence of a pattern of misleading statements to Congress on this topic,” Wyden said. “Similarly misleading statements about the bulk email records program were also made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, though these statements unfortunately remain classified.”

The Oval Office meeting came not just on the day that Russia gave one-year asylum to Snowden, but a day after Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald revealed another one of Snowden’s secrets: a secret NSA program called XKeyscore that “allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals.”

The documents on the program give more weight to Snowden’s claim that he could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.”

The co-chairman of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus called the revelation “appalling, but not surprising.”

“For weeks we were assured that the NSA was only collecting unidentifiable metadata that could only be accessed after a warrant was issued,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). “The truth is that by filling out a simple online form analysts could search your emails, your online chats and even your browsing history without prior authorization. This is a violation of your privacy, a violation of the 4th Amendment, and it is just wrong.”

“We need to thoroughly investigate the use of this program and promptly pass legislation that will rein it in,” Barton added.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney brushed off criticism of the surveillance programs at Thursday’s briefing, saying of support for the snooping “there’s not many things that Democrats and Republicans agree on, but this seems to be one of them.”

“I’m not going to engage in a discussion about or characterize our views on proposals that have been put forward — and certainly there is more than one — except to say that we’re in conversation with members of Congress about various ideas,” Carney continued. “…I think the president, as he has made abundantly clear, welcomes the discussion and debate. He believes that the balance is essential. And I think he certainly doesn’t doubt that there are ways to improve the effectiveness of the programs that we have.”

It’s not lost on the White House that the House last week came surprisingly close to killing funding for the NSA’s mass phone record collection in a bipartisan show of force.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), one of the co-sponsors of Rep. Justin Amash’s (R-Mich.) bill, said today he’s been “hearing from constituents, an enormous public outcry about reining in our national security apparatus and making sure that we have reasonable checks and balances around access to our most personal information in honoring the spirit of our Constitution.”

“I think the point that Representative Amash and I are making that the American people feel is common sense, is that liberty and security are not mutually exclusive. We can and we must have them both,” Polis said on MSNBC. “We can’t give up what makes it special to be an American under our Constitution in the name of security, or we lose the very thing that we’re trying to protect and that we cherish.”

<- Prev  Page 2 of 2   View as Single Page
Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
OK, so we are going to tell you that we are spying on every American without a warrant, but we ain't gonna stop spying.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Lets be clear, the NSA bulk e-mail surveillance program was ineffective in catching terrorists, the NSA lied about that to both Congress and the FISA Court. And when finally cornered by the Senators Wyden and Udall to provide proof of effective anti-terrorism ops resulting from that surveillance, they shut it down.

The NSA lied to the FISA Court to get the bulk e-mail surveillance program established.

They lied to keep it.

And they behaved like cornered rats when they got called on it.

The program wasn't for terrorists. It was for power, the power to have mass domestic surveillance of American citizens.

Please also carefully note that principal Patriot Act author Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) was on-board with Senators Wyden and Udall with limiting the NSA power here.

The NSA is going to face a Tea Party lead Church Comittee style investigation in the event of a Republican President being sworn in come Jan. 2017
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The issue with the NSA surveillance is that data mining today _is not_ a straight line projection to tomorrow. What ever the NSA can’t find now with today’s data mining techniques doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow or next month or next year.

“Total Information Awareness” requires total information control, which is why the NSA went to the FISA court to get a complete copy of all US domestic internet and phone activity for their files from all the major Silicon Valley internet firms. The NSA has access to _everything_ in terms of domestic and foreign communications metadata passing through the major American internet & cellular companies via FISA Court Order.

IOW, the NSA has a data mining time machine for your life on-line, and the lives of every other American, starting from several years ago. The NSA has the budget to store it all.

That massive data cache is potential blackmail material that makes the "Hoover files" look like a wet firecracker compared to a 50 megaton thermonuclear device.

That is power that will be abused at the expense of American individual liberty by the rest of the Federal government.

And what the NSA can do now with $50 to $500 million in software and hardware will be a off-the shelf $50,000 to $500,000 software and software seven years from now.

Consider the implications of that thought. Especially in light of the massive corruption possibilities provided to the guardians of the NSA data centers via providing selective access to the data.

My real short term fear regards the NSA metadate data warehouse is the Secret Service NATIONAL THREAT ASSESSMENT CENTER (See: using NSA metadata intercepts to very broadly and unconstitutionally "predict and prevent threats to the President".

The Secret Service is not limited by FISA Court warrants or Congressional oversight in identifying and dealing with "possible threats" to it's protectees.

The possibility of the Secret Service people in charge using the NSA metadate warehouse for "predictive software threat assessment data mining" being as morally suspect as the local prostitute using Cartagena, Colombia Secret Service advance team is very real.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So whats new? I don't much like the NSA having access to all my emails - I have nothing to hide - but this has to have a chilling effect on anyone Obama considers an enemy. And we pretty much know who is on that list - ~49% of Americans. The question isn't whether the NSA is spying on Americans - we know they are - the question is what is the NSA doing with that information? Knowing exactly the tactics Tea Party organizations are going to use is a pretty handy tidbit. There is nothing like being able to 'head em off at the pass'. Knowing about racy (sexist etc) emails can be used to coerce individuals. I don't put it past this Organizer-In-Chief to order up such information for dissemination to OFA and other like-minded organizations. Just like what has apparently happened with much of the information the IRS demanded - and got from conservative organizations.

Obama is using every gear and wheel in the US Federal Government machine to gather information all in a blatant attempt to draw power to himself and the democrats. Can a dictatorship be far off?

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
(One more time!)

What Do You Want to Do?

You do know that on Jan. 20 2017 his Obamaness will no longer be President, right?

Point being, I see a lot of complains (very often well deserved) about our Community Organizer In Chief, big government...etc...etc., what I have not seen is an answer to my small simple question. Another thing I haven't seen is examples of the NSA abusing the information gathered. Not saying it hasn't happened, just that I have not seen it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Read the Guardian's other article today showing how the U.S. is funding the British spying capabilities and the insinuation that while the U.S. can't LEGALLY get information on U.S. citizens without a warrant the Brits can for us, especially since we are providing access to the same information. So if someone at the NSA wants something on someone and doesn't want to have to go through channels they can just ask the Brits to do it for them. And as the article shows, they are very beholden to us for the funding.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The President is having a meeting now. This has been going on for months. Dithering again!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A meeting that excluded Rand Paul .... ... which is telling.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
View All

One Trackback to “Obama Tries to Calm a Handful of Surveillance Critics in Closed-Door Meeting”