Glenn Greenwald suggested today on ABC News that US National Security Agency analysts and private contractors can secretly eavesdrop on virtually anyone at will without a court order and therefore the potential for privacy abuse is huge.
Obama administration officials and some lawmakers have denied that NSA surveillance is that intrusive.
The Guardian will be publishing new NSA revelations this week, he said. Greenwald was the Guardian journalist who originally broke the domestic NSA spying scandal with his interview of Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker/whistleblower who is now in Russia. Greenwald’s comments today bolstered some of what Snowden has disclosed.
Greenwald also challenged (see embed above) NSA officials who are testifying before Congress this week to deny that these intrusive programs exist.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives narrowly defeated an amendment proposed by Michigan Republican Justin Amash that would have limited the NSA spying program.The Amash amendment would have ended the “mass surveillance of Americans” and while permitting the government to acquire business records and other “tangible things” actually related to counterterrorism efforts. It also would have instituted more robust judicial oversight of the NSA’s surveillance activities.
In the ABC interview this morning, Greenwald asserted that “The NSA has trillions of telephone calls and email in their databases that they’ve collected over the last several years. What these programs are are very simple screens, like the ones that supermarket clerks or shipping and receiving clerks use, where all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address, and it does two things: It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered; and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or connected to that IP address do in the future. And it’s all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst.”
Among other things, the NSA powerful surveillance program allows minimally supervised analysts to access emails, telephone calls, browsing histories, and Word documents, Greenwald insisted.
The journalist also claimed that ABC News itself previously reported that NSA analysts were even caught eavesdropping on phone calls from US soldiers in Iraq and their girlfriends.
Greenwald is not a member of the James Clapper fan club either. Clapper, an Obama appointee, is the Director of National Intelligence. “One of the most amazing parts of this entire episode has been that top-level national security officials like James Clapper really did get caught lying red-handed to the American Congress about what the NSA is doing. It’s amazing that he not only hasn’t been prosecuted, but he still has his job. What that does is it lets national security officials continue to lie to the public,” Greenwald declared.
Should Congress continue to try to rein in NSA domestic surveillance activities?