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Iran Press TV

US will persist with NSA surveillance programs despite public backlash

Iran Press TV

Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:40AM GMT

The Obama administration has indicated no signs of scaling back its massive domestic surveillance operations despite the public exposure of the secret bid by a former employee of the NSA spy agency.

Citing a top US intelligence official that spoke on condition of anonymity, the Associated Press reported Tuesday that the American authorities have no plans to scrap the spying efforts despite a growing outrage by US citizens as well as people abroad, since the secret surveillance extends to Europe and the Middle East, among other regions.

The official, according to the AP report, has emphasized that the secret operations by the National Security Agency (NSA), the world's largest spy agency, are likely to "continue to receive widespread if cautious support within [the US] Congress."

The Obama administration's defense of the programs is reportedly gaining support from some key Washington figures. Backing the secret operations, supporters of NSA spying tactics describe the collection of personal data of ordinary citizens as an essential measure in the "war against terror."

This is while White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also defended the NSA spying bids on Monday and censured the leakage of their details to the press.

'Leaks about sensitive information that cause harm to our national security interests are a problem," Carney stated on Monday.

Other administration officials have called for the prosecution of 29-year-old Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has admitted sharing the NSA data with the press. Snowden is reportedly in Hong Kong and is expected to seek asylum in face of intense American efforts to get him extradited to the US.

Even though the NSA spying programs will continue for the time being, some US lawmakers are asking for the details to be disclosed to a degree that will shed some light on an operation otherwise cloaked in secrecy.

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon reportedly plans to propose a draft bill on Tuesday that will compel the federal government to disclose the opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court that approves legal orders to track communications coming into or exiting the US.

Last week, Snowden leaked documents exposing the widespread surveillance of US communications under FISA, as well as a separate NSA program named PRISM that allows the government to access private conversations conducted over Facebook, Google, Skype and other services.

'I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things," Snowden told The Guardian over the weekend. "I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.'

Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Dean Heller (R-Nevada), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Al Franken (D-Minnesota), Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) all plan to support Senator Merkley's proposal. That isn't to say they disapprove of the program, though.

"I think there should be enough transparency that the American people understand what is happening…But I can assure you that this isn't about spying on the American people," Sen. Franken told the Star Tribune this week.


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