Secrecy News

NSA Surveillance Leaks, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service summarizes for Congress what is publicly known about the two National Security Agency surveillance programs that were disclosed by Edward Snowden and reported last month by The Guardian and The Washington Post.

“Since these programs were publicly disclosed over the course of two days in June, there has been confusion about what information is being collected and what authorities the NSA is acting under. This report clarifies the differences between the two programs and identifies potential issues that may help Members of Congress assess legislative proposals pertaining to NSA surveillance authorities.”

The CRS report does not present any new factual material concerning the surveillance programs. But it identifies some outstanding questions about them — the word “unclear” is used several times — and it formulates topics for congressional consideration.  See NSA Surveillance Leaks: Background and Issues for Congress, July 2, 2013.

Other new or newly updated CRS reports that Congress has not made publicly available include the following.

Ecuador: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations, July 3, 2013

China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress, updated July 5, 2013

China-U.S. Trade Issues, updated July 3, 2012

China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States, updated July 3, 2013

U.S.-Taiwan Relationship: Overview of Policy Issues, updated July 2, 2013

Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990, updated July 3, 2013

2 thoughts on “NSA Surveillance Leaks, and More from CRS

  1. Senator Feinstein:

    The report “NSA Surveillance Leaks: Background and Issues for Congress” by Marshall Curtis Erwin and Edward C. Liu (July 2, 2013) states in the section re: domestic surveillance of Americans by the NSA that: “Following the disclosure of the FISC order compelling Verizon to produce large amounts of telephony metadata, some commentators have expressed skepticism regarding how there could be “reasonable grounds to believe” that such a broad amount of data could be said to be “relevant to an authorized investigation,” as required by the statute.” A second concern of civil liberties advocates found in the report is that phone numbers of American citizens are identifiers of person or persons and that this is personal and private information in which the NSA does not seem to recognize as such. Human rights vis a vis the UN’s Declaration of Universal Human Rights is, IMO, the way to World Peace I’ and the end of war; terrorism and espionage. Such an effort would render the NSA controversy moot (so much about what the NSA is actually doing is “unclear” as implied by the report).

    Philip Henika

  2. I read at least the first half of Puzzle Palace by James Bamford. If you want a good over all view of an over worked organization. This is a great start. NSA could be a great organization if left to do only limited research. But because they are part of a political government, they will stumble along with the weight of all the requests made to it. I like the fact that they try to inform the public about computer security and their museum is quite small but enhances the experience by way of showing past works that have eluded and confiscated its own theorems and idealisms. Another few books I recommend is Elementary Cryptography by Helen Fouché Gaines and The Codebreakers – The Story of Secret Writing by David Kahn, and Alan Turing: The Enigma, by Ray Monk.

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