Ron Wyden: 'Plenty' Of Domestic Surveillance Programs Still Unexposed
from the also:-screw-the-CIA dept
In a few months, we’ll be marking the second anniversary of the first Snowden leak. The outraged responses of citizens and politicians around the world to these revelations has resulted in approximately nothing in those 24 months. There have been bright spots here and there — where governments and their intelligence agencies were painted into corners by multiple leaks and forced to respond — but overall, the supposed debate on the balance between security and privacy has been largely ignored by those on Team National Security.
Here in the US, multiple surveillance reforms were promised. So far, very little has been put into practice. The NSA may be forced to seek court approval for searches of its bulk phone metadata, but otherwise the program rolls on unimpaired and slightly rebranded (from Section 215 to Section 501).
Senator Ron Wyden — one of the few members of our nation’s intelligence oversight committees actively performing any oversight — isn’t happy with the lack of progress. In an interview with Buzzfeed’s John Stanton, Wyden points out that not only has there been little movement forward in terms of surveillance reform, there actually may have been a few steps backward.
Wyden bluntly warned that even after the NSA scandal that started with Edward Snowden’s disclosures, the Obama administration has continued programs to monitor the activities of American citizens in ways that the public is unaware of and that could be giving government officials intimate details of citizens’ lives.
Asked if intelligence agencies have domestic surveillance programs of which the public is still unaware, Wyden said simply, “Yeah, there’s plenty of stuff.
One place there’s definite regression — at least in terms of attitude, if not results — is the push to give intelligence and law enforcement agencies “keys” to encrypted communications, whether in the form of
unicorns “golden keys” or pre-installed backdoors in hardware and software. Wyden recognizes the dangers inherent to these demands — the ones these agencies won’t admit exist.
“I’m going to fight that with everything I’ve got … Once the good guys have the keys, the bad guys have the keys and this is going to be incredibly damaging to innovation,” Wyden said.
Wyden blames the current intelligence reform stasis on two key figures, as well as the administration that bends over backwards to oblige them.
Wyden made clear he has little faith serious changes will be made so long as the current leaders of the intelligence community, like Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan, retain their jobs. “The ways this works is, these are individuals who serve at the pleasure of the president … [and] the president wants them there.”
“All of these officials … work for the president of the United States, so you can ask him about it. But I don’t have confidence in [CIA Director] Brennan,” Wyden added bluntly.
No reason why he should. As he points out earlier in the interview, the hacker-esque actions the CIA deployed against Senate staffers during the crafting of the Torture Report would get an ordinary person thrown in jail.
The intelligence community may be avoiding any serious reforms thanks to an all-too-gracious administration, but they haven’t found a way to shake Wyden — someone who knows that not receiving an answer to a pointed question can sometimes be as powerful as wrestling admissions from tight-lipped surveillance defenders.