Senators To NSA: Your 'Fact Sheet' Isn't Factual; Can You Tell Us The Truth For Once?

from the look-at-that dept

We recently wrote about the NSA’s highly questionable “talking points” about the various NSA surveillance programs that have leaked. Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall — who have long been leading the fight to get people to understand how the NSA was spying on Americans — have now sent a letter to NSA boss Keith Alexander saying that the “facts” in the NSA’s “fact sheets” do not, in fact, appear to be factual, and asking him to correct the errors.

We were disappointed to see that this fact sheet contains an inaccurate statement about how the section 702 authority has been interpreted by the US government. In our judgment this inaccuracy is significant, as it portrays protections for Americans’ privacy as being significantly stronger than they actually are. We have identified this inaccurate statement in the classified attachment to this letter.

We urge you to correct this statement as soon as possible. As you have seen, when the NSA makes inaccurate statements about government surveillance and fails to correct the public record, it can decrease public confidence in the NSA’s openness and its commitment to protecting Americans’ constitutional rights. Rebuilding this confidence will require a willingness to correct misstatements and a willingness to make reforms where appropriate.

Later in the letter, they also point to another “misleading” statement, amusingly using a letter that the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) sent to Wyden and Udall two years ago. This was back when they two were asking the DNI to at least reveal how many Americans had their info collected, and the DNI responded that “…it is not reasonably possible to identify the number of people located in the United States whose communications may have been reviewed….” Now Wyden and Udall are using that line to show that the latest “fact sheet” must be wrong:

Separately, we note that this same fact sheet states that under section 702, “Any inadvertently acquired communication of or concerning a US person must be promptly destroyed if it is neither relevant to the authorized purpose nor evidence of a crime.” We believe that this statement is somewhat misleading, in that it implies that the NSA has the ability to determine how many American communications it has collected under section 702, or that the law does not allow the NSA to deliberately search for the records of particular Americans. In fact, the intelligence community has told us repeatedly that it is “not reasonably possible to identify the number of people located in the United States whose communications may have been reviewed under the authority” of the FISA Amendments Act.

So, basically: were you lying to us then, or are you lying to us now?

We’ll see what the NSA’s response is, but I imagine it will likely involve more lying.

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Comments on “Senators To NSA: Your 'Fact Sheet' Isn't Factual; Can You Tell Us The Truth For Once?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

A lot of [REDACTED] brackets or shitloads of black ink.

Those senators are cleared to know just about anything as they’re part of the committee that has oversight for the NSA. One would think with how upset they sound, it would be very unwise for the NSA to continue to lie to them as they are basically like a judge at this point. They are more or less collecting evidence to be used against whoever is sponsoring the acts they feel are illegal or against the spirit of the law.

Think NSA = Prenda and Wyden/Udall = Judge Otis Wright. Something is about to give and there hopefully wont be enough popcorn in the world to enjoy it. The big problem here is it’s a full committee rather than just Wyden/Udall and some of the members seem content turning a blind eye…

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