The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A secret U.S. court has renewed the government’s authority to carry out a controversial phone surveillance program exposed by fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

The panel’s decision, made public Friday in an unprecedented move, extends the program, which affects millions of Americans, by three months, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, said in a statement.

“In light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program, the DNI (Director of National Intelligence) 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,” it said.

Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, sparked outrage in early June when he divulged to The Guardian newspaper that, under a secret court order, Washington was collecting phone records of millions of US customers of phone company Verizon.

The telephone metadata collection program was created by the 2001 Patriot Act in the context of fighting terrorism.

Set up in 1978 after the Watergate scandal, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court consists of eleven judges nominated for seven years by the president and the Supreme Court.

Administration officials have said the government was conducting only a relatively small number of searches through the phone data, despite the large volume of telephone records collected, and that it was barred from looking for any information on crimes unrelated to terror threats.

But lawmakers last week blasted U.S. intelligence agencies for trampling on privacy rights and vowed to impose limits on the government’s authority to scoop up phone records.

A bipartisan group of senators has also introduced a bill urging President Barack Obama’s administration to declassify key FISA court orders and White House interpretations of post-9/11 intelligence-related law.

“The administration is undertaking a careful and thorough review of whether and to what extent additional information or documents pertaining to this program may be declassified, consistent with the protection of national security,” the ODNI statement said.

Snowden, whose passport has been revoked by Washington, has been marooned in Moscow airport’s transit zone for the past three weeks, as he seeks asylum in a bid to evade US espionage charges for his leaks.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Pat McCrory

Youtube Screenshot

If former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is any indication, the GOP primary wounds wrought in the last several months stand a good chance of bleeding into the general election this fall.

McCrory, who lost his bid Tuesday to become the Republican nominee for the Tar Heel State's open Senate seat, declined to endorse his GOP rival, Rep. Ted Budd, the Trump endorsee.

Keep reading... Show less

Dr. Mehmet Oz

Youtube Screenshot

Senate candidate Mehmet Oz thanked Fox News host Sean Hannity for advising him “behind the scenes,” helping to bring him to the cusp of a potential victory in Tuesday night’s primary in Pennsylvania — a revelation that further illustrates Hannity’s position as a Republican operative who leverages his media presence for political influence.

The Republican primary race could potentially go to a recount, with Oz currently ahead of former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick by a slender margin. The winner will face Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who won his primary by a landslide. During a speech on Tuesday night, Oz first thanked his wife, his children, and his campaign staff and then called out two key political figures who endorsed him and advised him throughout the campaign: former President Donald Trump and Hannity.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}