‘No phone call, no Internet transaction, isn’t recorded by the NSA’: Edward Snowden fires back at U.S. government surveillance denials
- Senator Dianne Feinstein claimed that the NSA’s phone-tracking is benign
- Whistle-blower Snowden said in a statement that it is pervasive in nature
PUBLISHED: 08:49 EST, 25 October 2013 | UPDATED: 08:56 EST, 25 October 2013
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden has hit back at claims by a U.S. government official that collating phone records is not ‘surveillance’.
Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote in newspaper recently that what the NSA is gathering is not protected under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches.
She wrote in USA Today on Sunday: ‘The call-records program is not surveillance. It does not collect the content of any communication, nor do the records include names or locations.’
She added: ‘The NSA only collects the type of information found on a telephone bill: phone numbers of calls placed and received, the time of the calls and duration. The Supreme Court has held this “metadata” is not protected under the Fourth Amendment.’
However Snowden, although he didn’t name the lawmaker, clearly had her comments in mind when he gave a statement to the American Civil Liberties Union about phone tracking.
He said: ‘In the last four months, we’ve learned a lot about our government.
‘We’ve learned that the U.S. intelligence community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance. Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA’s hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They’re wrong.’
He made the statement in support of a demonstration against government privacy invasion taking place in Washington D.C on Saturday.
His comment came as tensions mount between Europe and America over the alleged monitoring of leaders’ phone calls.
The National Security Agency has monitored the phone conversations of at least 35 world leaders after being given their numbers by an official in another government department, according to a classified document leaked by Snowden.
The confidential memo reveals that senior officials in ‘customer’ departments such the White House and the Pentagon were encouraged to share their ‘Rolodexes’ of contact details with the NSA.
The agency then added the phone numbers of the foreign politicians to their surveillance systems and started to monitor them.
According to the leaked document handed over to The Guardian, one unnamed official handed over 200 numbers – including those of at least 35 world leaders – none of whom were named.
One of the leaders the NSA bugged was allegedly German chancellor Angela Merkel, who accused the American government on Wednesday of tapping her mobile phone, something the White House denies.
European leaders united in anger Thursday as they attended a summit overshadowed by the reports of the U.S. spying on its allies.