US NSA can access data without court approval, leaker says

Snowden repeats his accusations after U.S. agencies deny they listen to phone calls or read emails without warrants

By , IDG News Service |  Government

"The statement that a single analyst can eavesdrop on domestic communications without proper legal authorization is incorrect and was not briefed to Congress," the ODNI said in a statement

Nadler, in a statement released after the Thursday hearing, said the Obama administration had assured him that the "NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans' phone calls without a specific warrant."

U.S. officials are creating a false distinction between U.S. residents and other people, Snowden said in the chat. Saying U.S. residents enjoy more legal protections "is a distraction from the power and danger of this system," he wrote. "Suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it's only victimizing 95% of the world instead of 100%. Our founders did not write that 'We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all US Persons are created equal.'"

It's not difficult for the NSA to get a warrant for U.S. communications, Snowden added. "Even in the event of 'warranted' intercept, it's important to understand the intelligence community doesn't always deal with what you would consider a 'real' warrant like a Police department would have to, the 'warrant' is more of a templated form they fill out and send to a reliable judge with a rubber stamp," he wrote.

"Americans' communications are collected and viewed on a daily basis on the certification of an analyst rather than a warrant," he added. "They excuse this as 'incidental' collection, but at the end of the day, someone at NSA still has the content of your communications."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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