Dem Senators: NSA Violations 'Tip of the Iceberg'

In response to NSA Violates Privacy Rules Thousands of Times per Year:

Two Democrat Senators warned Friday that new reports of thousands of privacy violations by the National Security Agency were just the “tip of a larger iceberg.”

Via PJ Media:

On Thursday, the Washington Post published its report of a May 2012 audit leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden that found 2,776 violations over the previous year of executive orders and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provisions governing spying on Americans or foreign targets in the U.S. These included both computer and operator errors.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) have been some of President Obama’s harshest critics — within his party and outside — on domestic spying. They were among allies and foes of the NSA programs summoned by Obama to the Oval Office at the beginning of the month as he hoped to calm his detractors before promising new, vague reforms.

“The executive branch has now confirmed that the ‘rules, regulations and court-imposed standards for protecting the privacy of Americans’ have been violated thousands of times each year. We have previously said that the violations of these laws and rules were more serious than had been acknowledged, and we believe Americans should know that this confirmation is just the tip of a larger iceberg,” Wyden and Udall said in a joint statement this afternoon.

“While Senate rules prohibit us from confirming or denying some of the details in today’s press reports, the American people have a right to know more details about of these violations. We hope that the executive branch will take steps to publicly provide more information as part of the honest, public debate of surveillance authorities that the Administration has said it is interested in having.”

In last week’s press conference, the president took credit for beginning a process of reviewing the way the government does intelligence and surveillance – and promised to set up an “outside” review group, (to be set up by James Clapper) to look into these issues. 

But the president already has an outside review group that is set up for that purpose. It’s called the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) and it turns out, last May – right before the Snowden leaks came out – nearly everyone on the PIAB board was asked to leave. It went from 14 members to just four.  

Via The Politico:

“They kicked me off,” said former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.). “I was on it a long time under Bush and under Obama. They wanted to make some changes.” 

“I don’t know anything about whether they’ve brought in new members. They thanked me and that’s about all I know,” added Hamilton, widely known for his service as vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission. 

The 82-year-old former congressman — who has headed Indiana University’s Center for Congress since 2010 — said he wasn’t upset about being booted from the PIAB, although he remains in the dark about precisely why he was shown the door.

Philip Zelikow, who served as executive director of the 9/11 Commission and later as a top aide to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was also asked recently to step off the PIAB. 

“I’ve resigned from the Board, one of ten of the fourteen earlier members who have done so,” Zelikow said via email. “Four of the earlier members have remained, pending a reconstitution of the Board at some point for the balance of the President’s second term. The White House website displays the current situation, pending that.”

A White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden confirmed to POLITICO via e-mail that the panel members had concluded their service.

“A number of PIAB members have recently departed their positions and in staffing the Board, we look carefully at the President’s needs and ensure that the group is comprised of individuals with the skills and expertise to meet those needs.”