By Spencer Ackerman. On the eve of a major US Senate hearing on the National Security Agency’s bulk surveillance, two senators called for major reforms of the NSA’s collection of phone records and accused US intelligence leaders of misleading the public about its impact on privacy.
A letter sent by the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, to Ron Wyden, a Democratic senator for Oregon, on Friday said that there had been “a number of compliance problems” with the NSA’s bulk, ongoing collection of millions of Americans’ phone records, but “no findings of any intentional or bad-faith violations”.
On the Senate floor late on Tuesday afternoon, Wyden, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, all but accused Clapper of lying.
Citing classified documents that he did not specify, but referring to “violations of court orders”, Wyden said that “these violations are more serious than those stated by the intelligence community, and are troubling”. Wyden urged senators to read classified intelligence documents about the bulk surveillance for themselves.
“Any policymaker who simply defers to intelligence officials without asking to see their evidence is making a mistake,” Wyden warned. Read more from this story HERE.
Effort to get NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s father to Moscow collapses
By Jerry Markon. The FBI tried to enlist the father of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden to fly to Moscow to try to persuade his son to return to the United States, but the effort collapsed when agents could not establish a way for the two to speak once he arrived, Snowden’s father said Tuesday.
“I said, ‘I want to be able to speak with my son. . . . Can you set up communications?’ And it was, ‘Well, we’re not sure,’ ” Lon Snowden told The Washington Post. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, folks, I’m not going to sit on the tarmac to be an emotional tool for you.’ ”
In a wide-ranging interview, the elder Snowden offered a vehement defense of the young man some have labeled a traitor. He said that Edward, who is holed up at an airport in Moscow, grew up in a patriotic family in suburban Maryland, filled with federal agents and police officers, and that he “loves this nation.’’
Asked what triggered his son’s decision to leak top-secret intelligence documents, Snowden, a retired Coast Guard officer, said he didn’t know. Although Edward had seemed troubled in April during their final dinner together, he said his son had recently put up a “firewall between himself and his family.”
“We had no idea what was coming,’’ he said. Read more from this story HERE.