News / USA

Discussion on US Domestic Surveillance Continues

Discussion on US Domestic Surveillance Continuesi
X
July 31, 2013 9:59 PM
Top U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials say the government’s vast domestic data collection activities do not infringe on citizens’ privacy but do help identify and defeat terrorist threats. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, officials testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee hours after the Obama administration released documents detailing telephone data collection programs exposed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
Michael Bowman
Top U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials say the government’s vast domestic data collection activities do not infringe on citizens’ privacy but do help identify and defeat terrorist threats.  Officials testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee hours after the Obama administration released documents detailing telephone data collection programs exposed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Revelations that the U.S. government collects telephone records have unnerved many Americans, according to committee chairman Patrick Leahy.

“I think the patience of the American people is beginning to wear thin. But what has to be of more concern in a democracy is the trust of the American people is wearing thin," he said.

Wednesday, the Obama administration released previously-classified documents on the extent and limitations of federal telephone snooping.

“These are telephone records maintained by the phone companies. They include the number the call was dialed from, the number the call was dialed to, the date and time of the call and the length of the call," said Deputy Attorney General James Cole. "The records do not include the names or other identifying information. They do not include cell site [cellular telephone location] or other location information, and they do not include the content of any phone calls."

Actual monitoring of phone calls requires special court authorization.  Overall, data collection has helped defeat terrorists, according to National Security Agency Deputy Director John Inglis.

“There were 54 plots that were disrupted over the life of these two programs," he said.

The House of Representatives recently voted down a proposal to limit telephone data collection.  Similarly, senators showed no inclination to terminate the programs - but did express dismay over the lack of voluntary public disclosure. 

“We have a lot of good information out there that helps the American public understand these programs," said Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. "But it all came out late.  It all came out in response to a leaker [Edward Snowden]. There was no organized plan for how we rationally declassify this so that the American people can participate in the debate."

Vast data collection has a chilling effect on freedom, according to Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“People who know the government could be monitoring their every move, their every phone call, or their every Google search will comport themselves differently.  They will hesitate before visiting controversial websites.  They will hesitate before joining controversial advocacy groups.  They will hesitate before exercising rights that the Constitution guarantees," he said.

Not so, says Robert Litt, general counsel in the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

“Collection of this kind of telephone meta-data from the telephone companies is not a violation of anyone’s constitutional rights," he said.

Litt said that disclosure of the programs has damaged the government’s ability to protect the nation.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid