Privacy Advisor

Sen. Asks PCLOB To Probe NSA Programs, Questions NSA Head

June 13, 2013

Jed_imageJedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing  on Wednesday, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) said that he has sent a letter, with bipartisan support, to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) asking it to “make it a priority” to investigate the National Security Agency’s (NSA) dragnet phone surveillance and PRISM programs to determine whether they were “conducted within the statutory authority granted by Congress” and “take the necessary precautions to protect the privacy civil liberties of American citizens under the Constitution.” Udall said the PCLOB will help provide an “important check” against civil liberties abuses. He notes that former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke suggested that we would not have had these problems today if the PCLOB had been activated sooner.

Udall asked NSA General Keith Alexander whether  his agency would cooperate with a PCLOB investigation. “Senator, we will,” Alexander noted while adding that his deputy met with and briefed the board for a “couple of hours” on Tuesday. Alexander also said he thinks the NSA’s programs do protect American privacy and civil liberties, but balancing the security needs of the programs has prevented the agency from explaining it to the American people. He defended the programs by saying the NSA was not keeping them secret because they thought they were illegal but in order to keep the nation secure. You can hear them in their own words below:

Read more by Jedidiah Bracy:
NSA Leak Continues To Send Shockwaves Through Privacy World
Reactions to NSA Disclosures Continue
The NSA’s PRISM Program and Reactions
Council of European Union Releases Draft Compromise