Entries in Edward Snowden (3)


Glenn Greenwald: Low-Level NSA Analysts Have ‘Powerful and Invasive’ Search Tool

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sunday on ABC’s This Week, Glenn Greenwald – the reporter who broke the story about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs – claimed that those NSA programs allowed even low-level analysts to search the private emails and phone calls of Americans.

“The NSA has trillions of telephone calls and emails in their databases that they’ve collected over the last several years,” Greenwald told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “And what these programs are, are very simple screens, like the ones that supermarket clerks or shipping and receiving clerks use, where all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address, and it does two things.  It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future.”

Greenwald explained that while there are “legal constraints” on surveillance that require approval by the FISA court, these programs still allow analysts to search through data with little court approval or supervision.

“There are legal constraints for how you can spy on Americans,” Greenwald said. “You can’t target them without going to the FISA court. But these systems allow analysts to listen to whatever emails they want, whatever telephone calls, browsing histories, Microsoft Word documents.”

“And it’s all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst,” he added.

But the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee told Stephanopoulos he would be shocked if such programs existed.

“It wouldn’t just surprise me, it would shock me,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, said on This Week Sunday.

Chambliss said he recently spent time with NSA officials and was assured that the programs Greenwald describes have been exaggerated.

“I was back out at NSA just last week, spent a couple hours out there with high-level and low-level NSA officials. And what I have been assured of is there is no capability,” Chambliss said. “And at NSA, for anyone without a court order to listen to any telephone conversation or to monitor any email.”

Chambliss said that any monitoring of emails is purely “accidental.”

“In fact, we don’t monitor emails. That’s what kind of assures me is that what the reporting is is not correct. Because no emails are monitored now,” Chambliss said. “There used to be, but that stopped two or three years ago. So I feel confident that there may have been some abuse, but if it was it was pure accidental.”

Greenwald is set to testify before a Congressional committee on Wednesday, along with NSA officials. He said the existence of these analyst search programs are in line with the claims of Edward Snowden, who first leaked details of the NSA’s surveillance programs to Greenwald.

“It’s an incredibly powerful and invasive tool, exactly of the type that Mr. Snowden described,” Greenwald said.

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and House Intelligence leaders have previously downplayed Snowden’s access to NSA data. Ahead of his Congressional testimony, Greenwald said the revelation of this search capability deserves a response from NSA officials.

“NSA officials are going to be testifying before the Senate on Wednesday, and I defy them to deny that these programs work exactly as I just said,” Greenwald said.

Greenwald also called on lawmakers to push for more information about the NSA’s surveillance programs.

“The real issue here is that what the NSA does is done in complete secrecy. Nobody really monitors who they are eavesdropping on,” Greenwald said. “So the question of abuse is one that the Congress ought to be investigating much more aggressively.”

Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked information about two sweeping intelligence programs, has previously warned that they are open to abuse by those with access. In a video interview with The Guardian, he said, “Any analyst at any time can target anyone… I, sitting at my desk, had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal email.”

Snowden has been holed up in a Moscow airport for weeks. He is currently attempting to secure temporary asylum in Russia on the grounds that he would be tortured or face the death penalty if he returned to the United States.

Attorney General Eric Holder responded to Snowden’s appeal last week, writing in a letter to the Russian government, “These claims are entirely without merit.”

Sunday, Greenwald told Stephanopoulos that Snowden’s petition is still pending, but the former NSA contractor prefers that the focus be elsewhere.

“I think he’s content with having nothing happen so the focus isn’t on him, but is on the substance of the revelations that he came forward to shine light on,” Greenwald said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Biden Asks Ecuador’s President to Deny Snowden Asylum

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a phone conversation Friday, Vice President Joe Biden asked Ecuador's President Rafael Correa to deny NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s request for asylum.

In what the White house is calling a friendly conversation, Correa told Biden that they can’t consider granting Snowden asylum until he is actually in Ecuador. He went on to say that, should the time come, they will consult with the United States before making any decision.

Correa also reportedly brought up the Roberto and William Isaias, two brothers of Ecuadorian nationality wanted for embezzlement. The two are living in Florida despite the Ecuadorian government’s attempt to have them extradited.

The White House said Biden and Correa addressed a wide range of topics in addition to Snowden, but did not provide any further details.

Snowden is currently believed to be in a Moscow airport's transit zone waiting to see if any country will grant him asylum.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cheney: Edward Snowden May Be Spying for Chinese Government

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney called NSA leaker Edward Snowden a “traitor,” during an appearance on Fox News Sunday this weekend, and warned that he may be spying for the Chinese government.

“I think he's a traitor,” the former vice president said. “I think he has committed crimes in effect by violating agreements given the position he had.”

Cheney, who defended the NSA’s domestic spying program, said the leak was one of the worst in recent memory, and did serious damage to the national security interests of the United States. He expressed concern over the fact that Snowden fled to China of all places.

“I'm deeply suspicious obviously because he went to China, that's not a place where you ordinarily want to go if you're interested in freedom and liberty and so forth,” Cheney said.

“I am very, very worried that he still has additional information that he hasn't released yet, that the Chinese would welcome the opportunity and probably willing to provide immunity for him or sanctuary for him, if you will, in exchange for what he presumably knows or doesn't know,” he continued.

“I don't think this is just a one-off disclosure. I think there's a real danger here that he'll go beyond that.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio