NSA statement does not deny 'spying' on members of Congress
In a letter dated 3 January, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont defined “spying” as “gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business”.
The agency has been at the centre of political controversy since a former contractor, Edward Snowden, released thousands of documents on its activities to media outlets including the Guardian.
In its statement, which comes as the NSA gears up for a make-or-break legislative battle over the scope of its surveillance powers, the agency pointed to “privacy protections” which it says it keeps on all Americans' phone records.
The statement read: “NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons. Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons. NSA is fully committed to transparency with Congress. Our interaction with Congress has been extensive both before and since the media disclosures began last June.
“We are reviewing Senator Sanders’s letter now, and we will continue to work to ensure that all members of Congress, including Senator Sanders, have information about NSA’s mission, authorities, and programs to fully inform the discharge of their duties.”
Soon after Sanders' letter was published, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, announced that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) Court, the body which exists to provide government oversight of NSA surveillance activities, had renewed the domestic phone records collection order for another 90 days.
On Saturday, the New York Times published a letter from Robert Litt, in which the general counsel for the Office of National Intelligence denied allegations that Clapper lied to Congress in March, when questioned about NSA domestic surveillance.
Last month, two federal judges issued contradictory verdicts on whether such NSA surveillance was constitutional. Judge Richard Leon said it was not constitutional; Judge William Pauley said that it was.
Dear friends in the Avaaz Community,
I just saw a report on the news in Peru showing how fishermen are slaughtering up to 15,000 dolphins every year -- for bait to catch endangered sharks. The entire story made me sick -- and now I'm fighting to end this nightmare. Will you join me?
My government is starting to react, but they're not taking enough action yet. Dolphin hunting is already illegal and punishable with several years in prison, but authorities are turning a blind eye -- allowing thousands of dolphins and sharks to be butchered. The government cares a lot about Peru's international reputation, especially for tourism, and if we can make them feel embarrassed with a massive global campaign, I'm sure they'll start taking action to end the massacre.
Once I deliver a million signatures from all over the world to the government of Peru, Avaaz will place ads in tourism magazines in countries where most of our tourists come from and the government won’t be able to ignore us! Help me stop the brutal slaughter by signing now:
When I saw this horrific hunt I realised I needed to do something about it before our dolphins and sharks are gone forever. So I decided to set up a petition and shared it with my friends and in less than 24 hours over 10,000 people had signed it!
Our oceans are under attack. Sharks and dolphins already face threats from pollution, climate change and entanglement in fishing gear. They play an important role as ocean predators and need to be protected -- not butchered. Many marine ecosystems are on the verge of collapse from which they won't recover and they will not wait while our politicians dither around making empty statements.
Tourism is Peru’s third largest industry, growing faster than any other South American country. Visitors are coming to see our pristine wilderness and eco-tourism is very important. We can create a serious threat by taking out hard-hitting ads in key countries where most visitors are coming from. Our government will realise people not only love our country because of the Machu Picchu and local gastronomy but also because they love our oceans and wildlife. Sign now and share this with everyone:
As an Avaaz member I've been truly amazed at our ability to help protect our oceans. At first, I wanted to get 15,000 signatures to represent the 15,000 dolphins that are killed every year but together we can represent all the dolphins and the sharks that can be saved in Peru's waters!
With hope and excitement,
Zoe -- together with the Avaaz Community Petitions Team
This petition was started on the Avaaz Community Petitions Site. It's quick and easy to start a petition on any issue you care about, click here: http://avaaz.org/en/petition/start_a_petition/?30311