Privacy is of utmost concern to the National Security Agency, according to its head, Army Gen. Keith Alexander.
“I know that some have concerns about intelligence community involvement in securing the nation’s cyber infrastructure. Those concerns are valid, which is why the professionals at the National Security Agency have robust and rigorous procedures to minimize the effects of intelligence activities upon U.S. persons,” he said while speaking June 3 at a Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Fortuitously, that same day the American Civil Liberties Union extended the NSA and other government agencies a chance to prove their commitment to privacy issues, by suing them in federal court over the release of documents on electronic surveillance requested last November by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act.
The ACLU is generally worried about what kinds of communication intercepts occur under the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which doesn’t require intelligence agencies to obtain a warrant before surveilling.
“The little that is known about FAA implementation does not inspire public confidence. News reports suggest that the government has used its FAA powers to collect U.S. citizens’ and residents’ international communications by the millions and has used the FAA improperly to collect purely domestic communications as well,” the ACLU wrote in its suit.
Well that doesn’t sound like minimizing the effects of intelligence activities upon U.S. persons, but without documents out in the open, there’s no way to be sure. Alexander should take this opportunity to demonstrate in actions his commitment to privacy by releasing enough information to satisfy the FOIA request, information that hopefully will ensure that ACLU suspicions are baseless. If the problem is that they aren’t, then why bother touting privacy in the first place? – Dave
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