Outrageous: Security Agency Won't Release Number of Americans it Spied On Because it Would "Violate Their Privacy"
Last month, Democratic Senators Ron Wydon and Mark Udall asked the National Security Agency how many U.S. residents were spied on under Bush’s 2008 expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allowed for warrantless eavesdropping. But on Monday, the agency told the Senators that they couldn't know how many Americans it spied on because that kind of oversight would violate people’s privacy.
Wired.com acquired Charles McCullough’s response to the two senators, who are members of the Senate’s Intelligence Oversight Committee. McCullough, Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, wrote that the NSA “agreed that an IG review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons.”
Wyden said that he and Udall simply wanted a “ballpark estimate” of the number.
But McCullough wrote that the agency was incapable of providing such a number, and an attempt to calculate the number would hamper intelligence missions.
I defer to [the NSA inspector general's] conclusion that obtaining such an estimate was beyond the capacity of his office and dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission.
Coincidentally, the House Judiciary Committee voted 23-11 yesterday to reauthorize the 2008 FISA Amendments Act. The Act allows for warrantless wiretapping on U.S. residents if either they or the person they’re talking to is outside of the country. According to the Act, interception is permitted so the government can acquire foreign intelligence information.
The Committee’s vote now extends the Act until Dec. 31, 2017 — otherwise, it would have expired at the end of the year. The measure will be moving to the House for a full vote. The Obama administration supports the Act and has pushed for the five-year extension.