Udall To NSA: Not Good Enough

Sens. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Sens. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

FOX 31's Eli Stokols updates on Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado's campaign to hold the National Security Agency accountable following contractor Edward Snowden's disclosures of ongoing large-scale collection of American domestic telephone records:

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall called on the National Security Agency to correct inaccurate and misleading information provided by the agency in a fact sheet about its cellular surveillance programs that were first made public by whistle-blower-turned-international fugitive Edward Snowden.

In a letter to NSA Director, General Keith Alexander, Udall and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, both Democrats, urge the agency to correct its fact sheet, which, they allege, portrays that privacy protections are “stronger than they actually are.”

“As you have seen, when the NSA makes inaccurate statements about government surveillance and fails to correct the public record, it can decrease public confidence in the NSA’s openness and its commitment to protecting Americans’ constitutional rights,” Udall and Wyden write. [Pols emphasis]

As the public wrestles with the implications of continued large-scale domestic surveillance under President Barack Obama–which has undeniably been problematic for morale in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party–Sen. Udall is emerging as a real hero on an issue dear to liberal Democrats, as well as libertarian-minded independents and Republicans. This does more than simply insulate Udall from the fallout of these disclosures of unpopular surveillance measures continuing under Obama: it sets him up as a leader on one of the foremost political questions of our time, staking out a position that many on both sides will judge to be the right side of history.

We don't want to cheapen what Udall is doing by merely calling it good politics, even though it is.

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11 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Duke Cox says:

    This issue, to me, is potentially the most important President Obama will face (OK, climate change..smiley) during his time in office. I have before mentioned a book that predicted all of this. ("No Place to Hide", Robert O'Harrow Jr.).

    If you didn't see this coming, you haven't been paying attention. Drones over U.S. airspace..?? The continued rise of incarceration for profit…??? nano-robots for surveillance….???? Yeah…move along folks, nothing to see here.

    • Frankly I'm less concerned about drones than the rest, and I vehemently disagree with Sen. Feinstein that drones are more concerning than PATRIOT Act violations of our 4th Amendment rights.

      It's easier to track drones – more paperwork to check it out of storage, clear flight plans with the FAA, etc.  Not like NSA data collection where the data is all there in a big database just waiting for someone to run some cross-check on it.

  2. Sen. Udall is right: an aware electorate right now should have 0% confidence in our government's adherance to the 4th Amendment. We have secret rulings, secret programs, and an apparent authorization to collect data without a warrant – and that's what we do know about. We have no idea what the FISC has ruled, no trustworthy idea of what data or how much data the government has collected on us, and no assurances that our rights aren't being violated.

    I wouldn't trust the statements of the NSA, CIA, DHS, or even FBI regarding evidence collection or surveillance if it came with a gold-stamped seal from the President himself. And that, in turn, leads to a degredation of the trustworthiness of legal proceedings – and it can spread like a cancer into the local PDs.

  3. How do you even begin to address this? The FBI and the spy agencies (and I'll add in many local police departments) have proven over and over that they're willing to bend and break the law in pursuit of anyone they think might be the slightest nuisance. The most they ever seem to get is a slap on the wrist.

    Is there any way to put some enforcement teeth into whatever laws we come up with to protect ourselves?

  4. We do need some laws though. Europe has private data laws, and we need to adopt some here.

    • Companies have a responsibility not to leak private data about persons.
    • Data stored by companies for persons (e.g. email) belongs to the person, not the company; a person might grant the company access to the data for its use (e.g. granting Google the ability to use your email activity to better classify spam as a condition of service), but the data is still owned by the person.
    • That means that warrants for a person's data must come to the person, not some third party company.
    • Personal privacy levels must be set in law, following a minimum guidline of the SCOTUS ruling on IR sensors the other year: if you couldn't reasonably expect to see something from ground level from a public viewpoint, it isn't public.
    • If a government agent wants access to non-public data, they need to get a warrant.
    • It a private agent wants access to non-public data, they need to ask permission or they're committing a crime.

    The Supreme Court seems somewhat skeptical about a constitutional right to privacy; perhaps some of this needs to go into an Amendment.

  5. BlueCat says:

    And the Boston Marathon bombing, coupled with the recent Where's Waldo Snowden fiasco, hardly seem to be examples of how successful all of this trading  our rights for security actually is.

    I remember when the Cheney, er Bush,administration claimed that they had  harvested all kinds of great info from torture though they insisted it was just "enhanced interrogation" technique. We've since found out that was a crock and, in fact the, ahem, not torture actually shut down a lot of talking that was happening prior to the brutality. So I'm not ready to take it for granted when we're told that these methods have stopped lots of plots. It looks too much like our "protectors" are still having trouble finding their asses (the Tsarnaev brothers, for instance, in spite of all kinds of red flags) with both hands.

    I really appreciate this stand from Udall, especially with so many morons taking the view that if you have nothing to hide, who cares, which kind of ignores great big chunks of our constitution, not to mention who will get to secretly decide what constitutes a threat in the future. It could be just complaining to your friends about the administration in power at some point down the line. With so many so ignorant about the meaning of these rights, this is not necessarily a great political move. It bears all the markings of a principled move.

    Many think the promise of more security is worth it and take it for granted that the promise is being kept and that these methods will always remain in the hands of a benign government that wouldn't dream of going after people for ordinary things like signing  petitions or writing letters. The reason our constitution puts these things in writing is so we don't have to take anything for granted or just trust anybody beyond a certain point, whether we think we have anything to hide or not.

  6. DavidThi808 says:

    I continue to be super impressed with Senator Udall's leadership on this. Our state has a Senator we can be very proud of. Very very proud.

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