Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court renewed the government’s authority Friday to continue the collection of millions of Americans’ telephone records, one of the classified counter-terrorism programs disclosed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
In an unusual public statement, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged that the court renewed the authority that was set to expire Friday.
“In light of the significant and continuing public interest in the …collection program, the DNI has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the court renewed that authority,” the statement said.
Earlier this week, Democrat and Republican lawmakers expressed deep concerns about the scope of the surveillance program and suggested that Congress may not renew legislative authority for it when it comes up for review in nearly two years.
“This is unsustainable, outrageous and must be stopped immediately,” Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., told Justice and intelligence officials at a Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
Said Alabama Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus: “How do we keep this from evolving into an unchecked weapons that can be used against people’s rights?”
Snowden has been charged with espionage related offenses for disclosing the program and a separate operation that tracks the communications of non-U.S. citizens abroad. He has been in a Moscow airport weighing various asylum strategies to avoid extradition to the United States
Funny how on the day the FISA court renews it, Obama comes out to give a race lecture on Trayvon Martin.
When I read the statement it just rubs salt in the wound. No changes but they decided to make it public that they are doing it.
So they announce that they are collecting data “in bulk”, after lying. First, Clapper said “no” they are not. “Not wittingly,” he said. “There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”
Now he breezes though it as business of usual and makes no bones about it. He flaunts the renewal to the public. Everything Clapper does just makes me grit my teeth.
So we finally got to the very real “wittingly”, intentional part. Now they drop the pretense. It happens to be on a Friday, when Obama runs out to talk about Trayvon Martin. Then media gushes over his comments. (but then that is business as usual)