By Victor Trammell
The National Security Agency (NSA) has revealed documents that are contrary to statements previously made by President Obama and other administration officials. The president and other government officials have repeatedly claimed that the revamped U.S. domestic surveillance program is not arbitrarily infringing on the privacy of American citizens.
According to the Washington Post, new NSA documents, which were formerly secret, prove that the agency broke privacy rules and overstepped boundaries on many occasions since being given new powers in 2008.
A May 2012 audit named 2,776 incidents that occurred in 2011 where needed communications were not properly managed or distributed. Some of the alleged abuses were not deliberate and were the result of typos or other minor mistakes. However, other incidents were much more serious.
At a press conference last Friday (August 9), President Obama gave more reassurances that government intelligence agencies have not overstepped the new boundaries they have been granted since 2008. Obama stated:
“If you look at the reports … all the stories that have been written, what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s emails. What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused. Now, part of the reason they’re not abused is because these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court).” (Fox News)
However, the documents unearthed by the Washington Post indicate that the NSA did abuse its power. Internal checks, balances, and federal laws do not prevent these abuses from happening. Patrick Leahy, the Senate Judiciary Chairman, has already expressed his concern about the damning information in the newly revealed documents. Leahy said the following in a statement:
“I remain concerned that we are still not getting straightforward answers from the NSA. I plan to hold another hearing on these matters in the Judiciary Committee and will continue to demand honest and forthright answers from the intelligence community.” (Fox News)