Debating The NSA’s Reach

More claims all over on NSA snooping. We look at the scope of American surveillance and what we need, or don’t.

Laura Murphy, Director of the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), speaks during a rally outside of the U.S. Capitol to demand that Congress investigate the NSA's mass surveillance programs on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, in Washington.  (AP)

Laura Murphy, Director of the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), speaks during a rally outside of the U.S. Capitol to demand that Congress investigate the NSA’s mass surveillance programs on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, in Washington. (AP)

In 1929, Secretary of State Henry Stimson banned American snooping on other countries’ diplomatic cables because, as he famously said, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.”  Oh, how far we have come.  For years now, the National Security Agency, the NSA, has been reading and listening and tapping and surveilling all over the place – up to and including German chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone.  Now the world’s in an uproar.  Defenders say everybody does it.  Critics say the NSA’s gone rogue.  Up next On Point:  drawing lines, boundaries, in the age of mega-surveillance.

— Tom Ashbrook


Adam Entous, national security correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. (@AdamEntous)

Jesselyn Radack, attorney and National Security and Rights Human Rights Director for the Government Accountability Project. Author of “Traitor: The Whistleblower and the ‘American Taliban.’” Former ethics adviser for the U.S. Department of Justice. (@Jesselyn Raddack)

Michael Allen, founder and Managing Director of Beacon Global Strategies, LLC. Former Majority Staff Director of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Author of: Blinking Red: Crisis and Compromise in American Intelligence After 9/11.” (@BeaconGlobal)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Obama Unaware as U.S. Spied on World Leaders — “Officials said the internal review turned up NSA monitoring of some 35 world leaders, in the U.S. government’s first public acknowledgment that it tapped the phones of world leaders. European leaders have joined international outrage over revelations of U.S. surveillance of Ms. Merkel’s phone and of NSA’s monitoring of telephone call data in France.The White House cut off some monitoring programs after learning of them, including the one tracking Ms. Merkel and some other world leaders, a senior U.S. official said. Other programs have been slated for termination but haven’t been phased out completely yet, officials said.”

Reuters: Spain summons U.S. ambassador over spying — “El Mundo reproduced a graphic on Monday which it said was an NSA document showing the agency had spied on 60.5 million phone calls in Spain between December 10, 2012 and January 8 this year. The newspaper said it had reached a deal with Glenn Greenwald, the Brazil-based journalist who has worked with other media on information provided to him by Snowden, to get access to documents affecting Spain.”

National Journal: NSA Surveillance Back in Crosshairs on Hill — “By tightening or codifying current practices and adding transparency and accountability measures, the legislation from Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., is a response to critics who have questioned the NSA’s rationale for secretly collecting phone and Internet records of millions of Americans. The bill they plan to move through the committee protects the NSA’s power to conduct sweeping surveillance approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and is unlikely to go anywhere near appeasing reform advocates.”

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