[ISN] Congress, NSA butt heads over Echelon

From: cult hero (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sat Jun 05 1999 - 07:32:15 PDT

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    Forwarded From: Putrefied Cow <wasteat_private>
    Originally From: 7Pillars Partners <partnersat_private>
    Congress, NSA butt heads over Echelon
    BY DANIEL VERTON (dan_vertonat_private)
    Congress has squared off with the National Security Agency over a
    top-secret U.S. global electronic surveillance program, requesting top
    intelligence officials to report on the legal standards used to prevent
    privacy abuses against U.S. citizens. 
    According to an amendment to the fiscal 2000 Intelligence Authorization
    Act proposed last month by Sen. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), the director of Central
    Intelligence, the director of NSA and the attorney general must submit a
    report within 60 days of the bill becoming law that outlines the legal
    standards being employed to safeguard the privacy of American citizens
    against Project Echelon. 
    Echelon is NSA's Cold War-vintage global spying system, which consists of
    a worldwide network of clandestine listening posts capable of intercepting
    electronic communications such as e-mail, telephone conversations, faxes,
    satellite transmissions, microwave links and fiber-optic communications
    traffic. However, the European Union last year raised concerns that the
    system may be regularly violating the privacy of law-abiding citizens
    [FCW, Nov. 17, 1998]. 
    However, NSA, the supersecret spy agency known best for its worldwide
    eavesdropping capabilities, for the first time in the history of the House
    Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence refused to hand over documents
    on the Echelon program, claiming attorney/client privilege. 
    Congress is "concerned about the privacy rights of American citizens and
    whether or not there are constitutional safeguards being circumvented by
    the manner in which the intelligence agencies are intercepting and/or
    receiving international communications...from foreign nations that would
    otherwise be prohibited by...the limitations on the collection of domestic
    intelligence," Barr said. "This very straightforward amendment...will help
    guarantee the privacy rights of American citizens [and] will protect the
    oversight responsibilities of the Congress which are now under assault" by
    the intelligence community. 
    Calling NSA's argument of attorney/client privilege "unpersuasive and
    dubious," committee chairman Rep. Peter J. Goss (R-Fla.) said the ability
    of the intelligence community to deny access to documents on intelligence
    programs could "seriously hobble the legislative oversight process"
    provided for by the Constitution and would "result in the envelopment of
    the executive branch in a cloak of secrecy." 
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