The NSA bureaucrat in charge of compliance with federal law told reporters on Friday that the 2,700 violations reported by The Washington Post were the result of mistakes.
The NSA is having a PR problem with documents provided Edward Snowden before he arrived in Russia. The Post article indicated that the NSA is spying on Americans inside the USA.
CNN reported on the call. It did not say who initiated the call.
The story does not say how anyone knows that the man who made the call really is the senior official in charge.
Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, told the Post in a statement late Thursday night that her committee “can and should do more to independently verify that NSA’s operations are appropriate, and its reports of compliance incidents are accurate.” She did not say what the Committee can do or is likely to do, given the fact that its real budget not available to the committee.
Separately, an NSA new collection method went undiscovered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for months. The court, which has authority over some of the agency’s operations, ruled it unconstitutional.
Responding to the Post’s story, the NSA said, “A variety of factors can cause the numbers of incidents to trend up or down from one quarter to the next.”
Factors can include implementation of new procedures, technology or software changes and expanded access.
“The one constant across all of the quarters is a persistent, dedicated effort to identify incidents or risks of incidents at the earliest possible moment, implement mitigation measures wherever possible, and drive the numbers down,” the agency said.
He offered no proof. He was not under oath. He was not speaking face-to-face.
“The NSA has zero tolerance for misconduct,” he said, noting that those who make repeated mistakes lose access to key databases. He did not say they get fired.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest offered a similar statement Friday, saying the NSA compliance office’s review reflects its commitment to abiding by the law and protecting people’s privacy.
Who is Mr. Earnest? How does he know this is true? Who makes these reviews?
Snowden is the source of the NSA’s problems. He provided evidence. Over half of the American public thinks he did wrong.
A CNN/ORC International survey released last month indicated that 52% of the public disapproved of Snowden’s actions, while 44% said they approved of the leaks. Fifty-four percent of those questioned in the poll said the government should attempt to bring Snowden back to the United States and prosecute him for his leaks.
The NSA has a majority of the voters on its side. The voters are content with the loss of privacy. They wants negative sanctions imposed on Snowden, not the NSA.
The NSA will simply hunker down. This will blow over soon enough. Eventually, the media will run out of leaked documents. Then it will be business as usual. Over half the public does not care.
So although the numbers of Americans who have had their information intercepted in violation of NSA’s own rules seems large, it is actually miniscule compared to the huge volume of our communications they intercept in total!
Though it made for a sensational headline last week, the fact is these 2,776 “violations” over the course of one year are completely irrelevant. The millions and millions of “authorized” intercepts of our communications are all illegal — except for the very few carried out in pursuit of a validly-issued search warrant in accordance with the Fourth Amendment. That is the real story. Drawing our attention to the violations unfortunately sends the message that the “authorized” spying on us is nothing to be concerned about.