By Chelsea J. Carter and Susanna Capelouto, CNN
Leaked classified documents show the U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart are among the "worst offenders" of mass surveillance without oversight, according to an open letter purportedly written by Edward Snowden and published Sunday by the German magazine Der Spiegel.
The publication of the letter, titled "A Manifesto for the Truth," comes as leaks by the former NSA contract analyst have roiled U.S.-European relations amid allegations that the NSA and the UK's Government Communications Headquarters monitored the communication data of some world leaders.
"The world has learned a lot in a short amount of time about irresponsibly operated security agencies and, at times, criminal surveillance programs. Sometimes the agencies try to avoid controls," Snowden wrote, according to the news magazine.
"While the NSA and GCHQ (the British national security agency) appear to be the worst offenders - at least according to the documents that are currently public - we cannot forget that mass surveillance is a global problem and needs a global solution."FULL STORY
By CNN’s Greg Clary
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has now been in Moscow for more than five months while Russia considers whether to grant his request for permanent asylum. But his day-to-day activities remain largely a mystery.
One person who knows more than most about Snowden’s situation is Jesselyn Radack, who met with him recently in Moscow.
Radack is a member of the whistleblower-support organization, Government Accountability Project, and a former ethics adviser to the Justice Department. She became a whistleblower herself after raising concerns about the interrogation of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh.
Radack says security is still paramount for Snowden—she and the other visitors weren’t told the location of their meeting because of security concerns.
“It appeared to be a hotel, somewhere, but I don't know Moscow, so I didn't recognize where we were really,” Radack said.
In the wake of revelations the U.S. spied on some of its closest partners, the head of the National Security Agency said Thursday he thinks some relationships with allies are more important in the fight against terrorism than the gathering of intelligence.
A week after reports the United States was spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and potentially 30 or more other heads of state, Gen. Keith Alexander said there may be more effective ways of gathering the intelligence Washington needs without jeopardizing crucial relationships with allies.
The global uproar over the National Security Agency's surveillance programs is prompting Congress to begin making some legal changes.
Most of the changes under way are focused on data collected on Americans, and little is expected to change in foreign intelligence collection.
The Senate Intelligence Committee approved a bill Thursday to make some limited changes to the law that governs the NSA's surveillance activities, focusing mostly on the program that gathers so-called metadata on nearly every call made by American telephone company customers. The data include the number called, and the time and length of the call, and are gathered under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
By Evan Perez
The Obama administration declassified a new batch of National Security Agency documents on Monday, many of which deal with the effort to inform members of Congress about NSA programs that collect call data on nearly every U.S. telephone user.
The documents released by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper date mostly to 2009, when the administration was pushing lawmakers to reauthorize sections of the Patriot Act that were set to expire.
One document from 2011, notifies the House and Senate intelligence and judiciary committees, of the NSA's testing in 2010-11 of a program to collect cell phone tower data that could track mobile phone users. The NSA earlier this month acknowledged it tested such collection but discontinued it.
European leaders warned Friday that reports of widespread spying on world leaders by the U.S. National Security Agency have raised "deep concerns" among Europeans and could affect the cooperation needed for effective intelligence gathering.
"A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field," the leaders said in a joint statement issued at the conclusion of a two-day European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that Madrid has summoned U.S. Ambassador James Costos over the matter. The U.S. Embassy in Madrid declined to comment, saying that Rajoy's statement stands for itself.
By Evan Perez
A new legal opinion from the secret court that oversees the National Security Agency's surveillance program endorsed the government's collection of data on nearly every phone call made to and from the United States.
The July legal opinion, after disclosures about the program by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, extended the government's collection of records for another 90 days, as has been done repeatedly since 2006.
The opinion by U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan, a 2001 appointee of President George W. Bush, was declassified on Tuesday, in part to respond to controversy over the Snowden disclosures.
The Obama administration has declassified other opinions, in addition to those provided by Snowden to news organizations, that describe the program in past years. This is the first declassification of a current order.
By Jim Clancy and Tim Lister
The revelation that the US National Security Agency (NSA) allows Israel to see raw intelligence data it gathers has angered privacy and civil liberties activists, but surprised few security analysts.
The agreement was disclosed by the Guardian newspaper Wednesday, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has provided the newspaper with reams of classified information.
An undated Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Israel sets out the ground-rules by which the NSA 'routinely' provides raw intelligence data to the Israelis. It defines raw ‘Sigint’ as including “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content."
The Memorandum includes provisions designed to protect the privacy of Americans whose data might be shared with the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU). It opens with a preamble that the sharing of information must be “consistent with the requirements placed upon NSA by US law and Executive Order to establish safeguards protecting the rights of US persons under the Fourth Amendment” of the US Constitution guaranteeing individual privacy.
By Evan Perez
The Obama administration released two documents on Friday describing the scope of National Security Agency data collection programs, a bid to quiet criticism they violate privacy rights.
An NSA memorandum describes the beginnings of the agency's collection of so-called telephone metadata of nearly every American under a provision of the Patriot Act, and the agency's monitoring of foreign Internet traffic.
The agency says in the memo that its systems monitor 1.6% of the world's Internet traffic, and its analysts review .00004% of global traffic.
Published accounts drawn from leaked documents provided by admitted NSA leaker Edward Snowden have portrayed a much broader eavesdropping system under section 702 of the Patriot Act.
Another document from the Justice Department describes the legal basis for collecting the telephone metadata, such as the numbers dialed, the length and time of the calls. The government says the NSA phone data collection operated under court supervision, and that the database is only accessed for specific searches in counterterrorism investigations.FULL STORY
By Jill Dougherty
Two days after calling off a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow, President Barack Obama said Friday he is re-evaluating the entire U.S./Russia relationship.
Obama, speaking at a White House news conference, seemed ready for a more rocky relationship with the Kremlin.
"It is probably appropriate for us to take a pause, reassess where it is that Russia's going, what our core interests are, and calibrate the relationship so that we're doing things that are good for the United States and hopefully good for Russia as well, but recognizing that there are just going to be some differences and we're not going to be able to completely disguise them, and that's ok."
Obama told reporters his decision not to participate in the Moscow summit next month went beyond Russia's decision to give temporary asylum to admitted National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
"It had to do with the fact that, frankly, on a whole range of issues where we think we can make some progress Russia has not moved," he said. "And so, we don't consider that strictly punitive."