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After Classified Briefing Lawmaker Says NSA Revelations Are Only 'The Tip Of The Iceberg'

Loretta SanchezLoretta Sanchez

A House Democrat said information revealed about the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programs are “the tip of the iceberg,” Daniel Strauss of The Hill reports.

“I think it’s just broader than most people even realise, and I think that’s, in one way, what astounded most of us, too,” Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) told C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” after a classified briefing with national security officials.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), who also attended the meeting, said that the NSA “violated the spirit of the law when it started collecting data from everyone in the country just because technology now makes that possible.”

Barton added that “in America … You don’t target everyone and violate their 4th Amendment rights just because of a handful of threats. But that is exactly what is happening at the NSA … it is wrong and it needs to stop now.”

More from Sanchez: “I don’t know if there are other leaks, if there’s more information somewhere, if somebody else is going to step up, but I will tell you that I believe it’s the tip of the iceberg.”

Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, who has served as a conduit for Snowden’s leaks, recently said that there will me many more “significant revelations that have not yet been heard.”

Greenwald told The New York Times that he received “thousands” of classified documents — “dozens” of which are newsworthy — from the the 29-year-old ex-Booz Allen employee who was contracted by the NSA.

Sanchez said that what lawmakers learned “is significantly more than what is out in the media today,” which is interesting when considering previous reports by journalists and whistleblowers.

Here’s a rundown of the reports and the allegations:

  • In 2006 NSA insiders told Leslie Cauley of USA Today that the NSA has been collecting almost all U.S. phone records since shortly after 9/11.
  • In 2010 Dana Priest and William Arkin of The Washington Post reported that “collection systems at the [NSA] intercept and store 1.7 billion emails, phone calls, and other types of communications” every day.
  • According to a 2007 lawsuit, Verizon built a fibre optic cable to give the “access to all communications flowing through the carrier’s operations centre.”
  • In April 2012 Wired’s James Bamford reported how the U.S. government hired two secretive Israeli companies to wiretap AT&T.
  • AT&T engineer Mark Klein discovered the “secret room” at AT&T central office in San Francisco, through which the NSA actively “vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the cooperation of AT&T” through the wiretapping rooms, emphasising that “much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic.”
  • NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake corroborated Klein’s assertions, testifying that the NSA is using Israeli-made hardware to “seize and save all personal electronic communications.”
  • A classified program called Prism, leaked by Snowden, appears to acquire information from the servers of nine of the biggest internet companies. The Washington Post reported that the government’s orders “serve as one-time blanket approvals for data acquisition and surveillance on selected foreign targets for periods of as long as a year.”
  • NSA Whistleblower William Binney that the NSA began using the program he built (i.e. ThinThread) to use communications data for creating, in real time, profiles of nearly all Americans so that the government is “able to monitor what people are doing” and who they are doing it with.
  • In July the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), established to “hear applications for and grant orders approving electronic surveillance,” found that the NSA violated the Fourth Amendment’s restriction against unreasonable searches and seizures “on at least one occasion.”
  • BONUS: In March CIA Chief Technology Officer Ira “Gus” Hunt said: “It is really very nearly within our grasp to be able to compute on all human generated information.”

If there is “significantly more” to the NSA’s domestic snooping, then we’re all ears and eyes.

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