NSA won’t say how many Americans they’ve spied on; cite “privacy” concerns
Posted by Xeno on June 21, 2012
Want to know if the US government has gone through your emails and listened in on your phone calls? The National Security Agency says they can’t consider such a request, and the reasoning is laughable — even by Washington standards.
Responding to a request made recently by two leading lawmakers in Congress, the NSA has sent a letter saying that they refuse to reveal the number of Americans that they have spied on through provisions made in 2008 to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a legislation that allows the government to go through correspondence that they believe is being sent overseas. The reasoning, explains the NSA, is that informing Americans about any spying they may have been subjected to would be damaging to personal privacy.
Under the last batch of amendments tagged onto FISA, the US government is given the power to pry into email, phone logs and other modes of communication that cross international borders — all in the name of national security, of course. Since little is known about how they use this act, however, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO) appealed to the NSA for an answer.
In a letter to the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community sent last month, Senators Wyden and Udall ask, “how many people inside the United States have had their communications collected or reviewed under the authorities granted by section 702” of the FISA Amendment Act (FAA).
In a response dated June 15 and made available to Wired, the Inspector General dismisses their request with the explanation that a “review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of US persons.” Additionally, Inspector General I. Charles McCullough says that responding to the request would be “beyond the capacity” of the Office of the NSA’s Inspector General, George Ellard, and that “dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission.”
Answer: All of them. We spy on EVERY American, all the time. But, there is so much data that we only actually look through it for things that will really pay off … inventions that could change the course of history, foreign secrets, insider stock tips, etc.