Glenn Greenwald: NSA has “incredibly invasive system of surveillance worldwide”

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Appearing today on Democracy Now!, Glenn Greenwald spoke about the federal government’s secretive and massive collection of domestic digital communications.  On Thursday, the Guardian published an expose by Greenwald of the NSA’s collection, by court order, of call data for millions of Verizon customers.  The Guardian and the Washington Post followed immediately with exposes of another program called “PRISM.”  That program involved the collection of many more kinds of digital data, including “email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.”

The data reportedly are obtained via direct access to the servers of companies like Microsoft, Google, Skype, YoutTube, AOL, Apple, PalTalk, Yahoo, and possibly more. It’s unclear, yet, whether the government obtained digital data with or without the knowledge and cooperation of the companies

Thursday night, James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, admitted publicly to the existence of domestic surveillance programs.

Moving to tamp down a public uproar spurred by the disclosure of two secret surveillance programs, the nation’s top intelligence official is declassifying key details about one of the programs while insisting the efforts were legal, limited in scope and necessary to detect terrorist threats….“I believe it is important for the American people to understand the limits of this targeted counterterrorism program and the principles that govern its use,” Clapper said. [NJ.com]

That was not the position Clapper took in his March Congressional testimony. Democracy Now! broadcast a video clip of Clapper’s exchange with Sen. Ron Wyden about the scope of the government’s domestic data collection programs.

Wyden: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.

Clapper: No, sir.

Wyden: It does not?

Clapper:  Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.

Greenwald called the testimony “an outright lie.”

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