The National Security Agency (NSA) is seeking a criminal probe into the program leaker that unveiled a pair of mass online and phone surveillance programs in two reports that shocked many Americans.
The highly secretive NSA has apparently asked the Justice Department to investigate the leak in a move some have called a “crimes report.”
The leaks were initially reported by The Guardian and The Washington Post earlier this week. The two papers claimed to have information on a program that collects telephone records of millions of Verizon customers every day, because of a secret court order.
According to the leak, the court order was granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25 and is active until July 19. The second leak involved an arm of the top-secret, controversial Stellar Wind program set up after 9/11. The program apparently allows the NSA and the FBI to tap into the central servers of nine internet companies, including Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and others.
The program, called PRISM, was started in 2007, according to The Washington Post, which broke the story on Thursday. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper released a statement about the leaks, saying that they were “reckless disclosures of intelligence community measures used to keep Americans safe.” He added:
“Our ability to discuss these activities is limited by our need to protect intelligence sources and methods. However, there are significant misimpressions that have resulted from the recent articles.”
The news of the NSA’s criminal probe request came hours before the source of the leaks, Edward Snowden, came forward. Snowden, a former CIA undercover employee, revealed himself as the leak source on Sunday in a Guardian article. The 29-year-old has contracted with the NSA in the past and works for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.
Snowden called the programs systematic surveillance of innocent civilians and added in an interview that “it’s important to send a message to government that people will not be intimidated.” The source of the leaks is apparently in a hotel in Hong Kong for the time being.
Do you think the recent NSA security leaks should result in a criminal probe?
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