The first time the bipartisan Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board dissected a National Security Agency surveillance program, it found fundamental flaws, arguing in a January report that the NSA's collection of domestic calling records "lacked a viable legal foundation" and should be shut down.
But in its latest study, the five-member board takes the opposite view of a different set of NSA programs revealed last year by former NSA systems administrator Edward Snowden.
The new report, which the board was to vote on Wednesday, found that the NSA's collection of Internet data within the United States passes constitutional muster and employs "reasonable" safeguards designed to protect the rights of Americans.
The board, whose members were appointed by President Barack Obama, largely endorsed a set of NSA surveillance programs that have provoked worldwide controversy since Snowden disclosed them. However, the board's report said some aspects of the programs raise privacy concerns meriting new internal intelligence agency safeguards.
Under a provision of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act known as Section 702, the NSA uses court orders and taps on fiber optic lines to target the data of foreigners living abroad when their emails, web chats, text messages and other communications traverse U.S. telecommunications systems.
Section 702, which was added to the act in 2008, includes the so-called PRISM program, under which the NSA collects foreign intelligence from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and nearly every other major American technology company.
U.S. intelligence officials and skeptical members of Congress have agreed that Section 702 has been responsible for disrupting a series of terrorist plots and achieving other insights.
The board said the programs have "led the government to identify previously unknown individuals who are involved in international terrorism, and it has played a key role in discovering and disrupting specific terrorist plots aimed at the United States and other countries."
Because worldwide Internet communications are intermingled on fiber optic lines and in cyberspace, known as the cloud, the collection inevitably sweeps in the communications of Americans with no connection to terrorism or foreign intelligence. Activists have expressed concern that a secret intelligence agency is obtaining private American communications without individual warrants. Some have questioned how such a program could be legal under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
The board, including a Democratic federal judge, two privacy experts and two former Republican Justice Department officials, found that the NSA monitoring was legal and reasonable and that the government takes steps to prevent misuse of Americans' data. Those steps include "minimization" that leaves out the names of Americans from intelligence reports unless they are relevant. (continued...)
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Posted: 2014-07-07 @ 3:00pm PT
I am so happy somebody is telling me it is ok to spy on all of us. This is supposed to be the land of the free, not the land of the NSA. this is out of control, we either stop it now or its over. I us the non tracking leave me alone search engine http://LookSeek.com a non tracking search engine good for everybody who is making a stance
Posted: 2014-07-06 @ 4:52pm PT
Take a glance as some of the epic NSA failures...
1. 9/11, all four instances, even though the NSA was tracking seven of the terrorists for over two years. Read The Shadow Factory for more on that one.
2. Boston, two brothers force a large city into martial law
3. Times Square, only caught by a curious passerby.
4. The shoe bomber, only stopped by other passengers.
5. The fall of Iraq; what America could not do since 1990, was accomplished by a relatively small (and unknown group) within days.
6. The first WTC incident.
...Have about sixty more on that list
Posted: 2014-07-06 @ 12:37pm PT
keep up the good work on terrorist surv programs
must keep watch on these terror groups.