The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

September 11, 2013

The NSA: Too big for anyone to understand

(Continued)

“Given the executive branch’s responsibility for and expertise in determining how best to protect our national security, and in light of the scale of this bulk collection program, the court must rely heavily on the government to monitor this program,” Judge Reggie B. Walton wrote in a 2009 order that found the NSA had repeatedly misrepresented its programs.

In Congress, meanwhile, only some lawmakers fully understand the programs they have repeatedly authorized and are supposed to be overseeing. For instance, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., one of the sponsors of the USA Patriot Act, has said he never intended it to be used to collect and store the phone records of every American.

And when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was asked whether the government was doing that, he testified, “No.” Yet Snowden’s revelations, published in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, show that is what happened.

There is no evidence in the new documents suggesting the NSA used its surveillance powers to spy on Americans for political purposes, a fear of many critics who recall the FBI’s intrusive monitoring of civil rights leaders and anti-war protesters in the 1960s. Instead, the documents blame the years of government overreaching on technical mistakes, misunderstandings and lack of training.

From 2006 through early 2009, for instance, the NSA’s computers reached into the database of phone records and compared them with thousands of others without “reasonable, articulable suspicion,” the required legal standard.

By the time the problems were discovered, only about 10 percent of the 17,835 phone numbers on the government’s watch list in early 2009 met the legal standard.

By then, Walton said he’d “lost confidence” in the NSA’s ability to legally operate the program. He ordered a full review of the surveillance.

In its long report to the surveillance court in August 2009, the Obama administration blamed its mistakes on the complexity of the system and “a lack of shared understanding among the key stakeholders” about the scope of the surveillance.

Text Only
National News
  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obamacare hit by ruling, but subsidies to continue

    A federal appeals court delivered a potentially serious setback to President Barack Obama's health care law Tuesday, imperiling billions of dollars in subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who bought policies.

    July 22, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

     

    July 22, 2014

  • Obama gives protection to gay, transgender workers WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday gave employment protection to gay and transgender workers in the federal government and its contracting agencies, after being convinced by advocates of what he called the “irrefutable rightness of yo

    July 22, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hopkins to pay $190M after doc taped pelvic exams

    Johns Hopkins Health System will pay $190 million to more than 8,000 women whose bodies may have been videotaped or photographed by a gynecologist using a pen-like camera during pelvic exams.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lawmaker: Texas to send 1,000 guardsmen to border

    Gov. Rick Perry, a vocal critic of the White House's response to the surge of children and families entering the U.S. illegally, plans to deploy as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border, a local lawmaker confirmed Monday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Sparring justices find little disagreement at the opera

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed a different view of U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday when she described about her passion for opera, one she shares with Justice Antonin Scalia.

    July 21, 2014

  • Second chance? Perry in Iowa again courting voters

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry is visiting Iowa for the fourth time in eight months, hoping for a second chance to win over Republican voters who delivered him a stinging caucus loss when he ran for president two years ago.

    July 21, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

     

    July 21, 2014

AP Video
Facebook