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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs