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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid