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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid