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by
Matt Vespa

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June 14, 2013 - 6:30 pm

With Ed Snowden exposing the NSA’s surveillance programs, we shouldn’t be surprised that the agency gave members of Congress talking points to justify the spying of American citizens.  The talking points indicate that the programs aren’t secret, despite that fact that Americans were unaware that their phone records and internet activity were being monitored, collected, and analyzed.

Zack Carter of Huffington Post wrote on June 13 that:

The talking points originate from the Democratic side of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) serves as ranking member.

[...]

[D]ivided into two documents, one dedicated to a program that allows the U.S. government to collect the phone call records of all American citizens, including the telephone numbers involved and length of calls. The other document is dedicated a program that collects mass metadata on Internet activities, including email, that relate to matters the NSA deems a foreign threat to the United States.

Both documents assert that the programs are not secret. But the programs have alarmed Americans because most citizens were unaware of their existence prior to the recent articles, and the programs were authorised by a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose rulings are, in fact, secret.

The talking points regarding the Internet program read:

Section 702 is a vital legal tool that Congress reauthorized in December 2012, as part of the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act, after extensive hearings and debate. Under Section 702, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) certifies foreign intelligence collection. There is no secret program involved — it is strictly authorized by a U.S. statute. The talking points for the phone records program read:

The news articles have been discussing what purports to be a classified, lawfully-authorized order that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) issued under an Act of Congress — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Under this Act, the FISA Court authorized a collection of business records. There is no secret program involved here — it is strictly authorized by a U.S. statute.

According to a staffer of Rep. Ruppersberger’s, “some of the articles that have been out there in the media have been confusing for members, so we put together this information to help them understand the programs.”  I haven’t made up my mind about Snowden being a traitor or a patriot, but one thing I’m not comfortable with is government perusing through my phone and internet activity.  What’s funny is that Barack Obama shared that opinion during the 2008 election.

Matt Vespa is a web editor at Townhall.com and occasional writer for Hot Air, RedState, and Townhall Magazine.

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