News / USA

US Declassifies Snowden Leaked Documents

The National Security Administration (NSA) campus is seen in Fort Meade, Md., June 6, 2013.
The National Security Administration (NSA) campus is seen in Fort Meade, Md., June 6, 2013.
VOA News
The U.S. has declassified secret orders that allowed it to engage in massive surveillance of the phone calls and Internet usage of Americans, information about two clandestine programs that former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked last month.

The government released the orders Wednesday, but blacked out key information, such as the names of the telephone companies it sought the records from. The release of the documents appeared to be a new effort by President Barack Obama's administration to support its claim that the data collection is necessary to thwart terrorist attacks on the country.

One document sent to key congressional leaders in 2011 described the National Security Agency surveillance as "some of the most sensitive foreign intelligence collection programs" being conducted by the government. It said telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, the times of the calls and messaging and their dates are being collected, but not the content of the calls and Internet messages.

Even as the government released the information, Britain's Guardian newspaper disclosed details of another clandestine NSA program leaked by Snowden, XKeyscore. The newspaper said the agency boasted that XKeyscore is its "widest-reaching" system, with analysts able to monitor online Internet chats and the browsing history of millions of Internet users.   

The scope of the surveillance has surprised many Americans and sparked a debate whether it ought to be curtailed. The House of Representatives narrowly rejected a bid last week to end some of the spying.

But at a hearing on the surveillance Wednesday, the chairman of the Senate's Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, voiced skepticism about the need for the spying.

"The government is already collecting data on millions of innocent Americans on a daily basis, based on a secret legal interpretation of the statute that does not, on its face, intend to authorize this kind of bulk collection," he said. "So what's going to be next? When is enough, is enough?"

Snowden leaked details of the surveillance as he fled first to Hong Kong and then Moscow, where for the last month he has been encamped in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport while seeking asylum in any country where he can avoid extradition to the United States to face pending espionage charges.

He is seeking temporary asylum in Russia while saying he wants to eventually leave for Latin America, where Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have offered him asylum.  But his quick departure from Moscow was blocked when the U.S. revoked his passport, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused a request from Obama to expel Snowden so he can stand trial in the U.S.

NSA deputy director John Inglis told Leahy that no one has been fired or offered to resign at the agency in the aftermath of Snowden's leaks. Inglis said the NSA is in the midst of investigating how the disclosures occurred and that officials will be held accountable.

Snowden's father, Lon Snowden, told Russian television Wednesday he was grateful that the Kremlin has kept his son safe while it considers his asylum request.

In another interview, the elder Snowden told The Washington Post that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tried to convince him to fly to Moscow to persuade his son to return to the U.S. However, Lon Snowden told the newspaper that the intelligence agency could not guarantee that it could arrange a meeting with his son.

The Post reported the elder Snowden told the FBI that he would "not sit on a tarmac to be an emotional tool" for the agency's benefit.

Snowden told the newspaper that he was "as surprised as the rest of America" when his son exposed top-secret U.S. surveillance plans. He said he did not see any direct signs of a growing disillusionment with the government and its surveillance methods that Edward has spoken about in interviews. He said his son "simply did not talk about his work."

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
July 31, 2013 1:59 PM
Is it really declassification when half of it is redacted?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid