5 Aug. (LPAC) Glenn Greenwald was interviewed live on ABC News Sunday morning, and reported that at least two Members of Congress, Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Alan Grayson (D-Fl.), have written a series of letters to the Obama Administration, demanding access to details of the NSA spying programs and the findings of the FISA Court. Greenwald, who was interviewed from Brazil, cited a 2011 86-page FISA Court ruling that found the NSA spying programs to be both unconstitutional and illegal. Even though the FISA Court has said it has no objection to the ruling being made public, the Obama Administration, backed up by the heads of the House and Senate intelligence committees, has refused to make the document available, even to Members of Congress seeking to read it.
Greenwald defended Edward Snowden, calling him a whistleblower. The Obama Administration, he continued, has declared war on whistleblowers and declared them Public Enemy Number One of this Administration. Snowden, under these circumstances, would have no chance of getting a fair trial in the U.S. under Obama. Were he to return to the U.S., there is good reason to believe that Snowden would be “disappeared.”
The Sunday Observer/Guardian published a column by Greenwald, to which he appended copies of the Griffith and Grayson letters to the NSA, the House intelligence committee, and other government offices, demanding access to data about the domestic spying programs. So far, neither Member has even received acknowledgement of their requests. “Denial of access for members of Congress to basic information about the NSA and the FISC appear to be common,” Greenwald revealed. And when Members of the intelligence panels do obtain information about abuses of power, they are forbidden to inform the public. Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden “spent years warning Americans that they would be ‘stunned to learn’ of the radical interpretations of secret law the Obama administration had adopted in the secret FISA court to vest themselves with extremist surveillance powers. Yet the two Senators, prohibited by law from talking about it, concealed what they had discovered. It took Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing,” Greenwald concluded, “to learn what those two Intelligence Committee members were so dramatically warning them about.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, is also demanding more information from the National Security Agency on the surveillance programs that have been revealed by the exposures of Edward Snowden. Durbin inserted language into the fiscal 2014 defense spending bill that would require the NSA to provide, in unclassified form to the greatest extent possible, information on the breadth and depth of its surveillance programs, information that Congress has, most likely, been unable to get from the agency until now. “I believe the government can obtain the information it needs to combat terrorism in a far more targeted manner, rather than casting a dragnet for information about millions of innocent Americans,” Durbin said in a statement. “In the end, Congress permitted this type of intrusion because too few demanded a balance between security and our constitutionally protected freedoms. I hope this provision will help reopen the debate.”
The information required by the bill, as described in the Senate Appropriations Committee report on the bill is as follows:
* For the last 5 years, on an annual basis, the number of records acquired by NSA as part of the bulk telephone metadata program authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, pursuant to section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, and the number of such records that have been reviewed by NSA personnel in response to a query of such records.
* To the extent possible, an estimate of the number of records of United States persons that have been acquired by NSA as part of the bulk telephone metadata program and the number of such records that have been reviewed by NSA personnel in response to a query.
* A report, unclassified to the greatest extent possible, and with a classified annex if necessary, describing all NSA bulk collection activities, including when such activities began, the cost of such activities, what types of records have been collected in the past, what types of records are currently being collected, and any plans for future bulk collection.
* A report, unclassified to the greatest extent possible, and with a classified annex if necessary, including a list of terrorist activities that were disrupted, in whole or in part, with the aid of information obtained through NSA’s telephone metadata program and whether this information could have been promptly obtained by other means.