The newest revelations about the National Security Agency may be shocking to the rest of us. To the congressional overseers of the American intelligence services, not so much. They’re still catching up from a holiday weekend. Or maybe they’ve just become numb to the whole spying-on-ordinary-people thing.
Using files provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the NSA scooped up the communications of innocent Internet users, including Americans, and that those not targeted by the agency far outnumber those targeted by the agency.
Personal and intimate information—details on romantic relationships, résumés, pictures—for thousands of non-targeted individuals have all been caught in the NSA’s surveillance driftnet, according to the newspaper.
All of that, you might think, would be a matter of some interest to the senators who control the budgets and oversee the activities of the nation’s military and intelligence agencies.
Or not. Sen. Lindsey Graham—who sits on the Senate’s armed services, appropriations, and judiciary committees and is one of the Republican Party’s most prominent voices on defense and intelligence issues—wasn’t familiar with the Postpiece.
“I don’t really know the details about what they’re saying in the paper. I know [NSA intelligence-gathering] is necessary. We’re at war with radical Islam,” Graham said.
Nearly two days after the release of The Washington Post’s report, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, who has direct oversight of the NSA, was just beginning to be fully briefed in the issue.
“I’m just in the process of looking into that,” Feinstein said.
Analysts for the intelligence agency hid, or “minimized,” references to Americans, but in other files the Post found references to email addresses that “could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S. residents.”
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