Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 2, 2015

NSA Violations ‘Just the Tip of a Larger Iceberg,’ Say Wyden, Udall

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two Democratic senators say new reporting by The Washington Post about invasions of privacy by U.S. intelligence is “just the tip of a larger iceberg.”

The senators made that statement Friday in response to Thursday night’s bombshell Washington Post report outlining violations of privacy rules by the National Security Agency.

The Post reported on and published a copy of a top secret internal NSA audit report identifying thousands of “incidents” in which the NSA ran afoul of court orders and other rules governing intelligence collection.

Democratic Sens. Rob Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, both members of the Intelligence Committee, said in a joint statement that there are more details to come:

“The executive branch has now confirmed that the rules, regulations and court-imposed standards for protecting the privacy of Americans have been violated thousands of times each year. We have previously said that the violations of these laws and rules were more serious than had been acknowledged, and we believe Americans should know that this confirmation is just the tip of a larger iceberg.

While Senate rules prohibit us from confirming or denying some of the details in today’s press reports, the American people have a right to know more details about the scope and severity of these violations, and we hope that the executive branch will take steps to publicly provide more information as part of the honest, public debate of surveillance authorities that the Administration has said it is interested in having.

In particular, we believe the public deserves to know more about the violations of the secret court orders that have authorized the bulk collection of Americans’ phone and email records under the USA PATRIOT Act. The public should also be told more about why the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has said that the executive branch’s implementation of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has circumvented the spirit of the law, particularly since the executive branch has declined to address this concern.”

The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is disputing one piece of the lengthy Washington Post report, however.

Congressional observers noted a portion of the Post’s report that said the NSA audit report hadn’t been provided to the Senate Intelligence panel before members were contacted by the newspaper for a response.

Such a lack of disclosure would no doubt lead to enhanced scrutiny on Capitol Hill, but in statement Friday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., explained that the committee received information in other formats:

“By law, the Intelligence Committee receives roughly a dozen reports every year on FISA activities, which include information about compliance issues. Some of these reports provide independent analysis by the offices of the inspectors general in the intelligence community. The committee does not receive the same number of official reports on other NSA surveillance activities directed abroad that are conducted pursuant to legal authorities outside of FISA (specifically Executive Order 12333), but I intend to add to the committee’s focus on those activities.

The committee has been notified—and has held briefings and hearings—in cases where there have been significant FISA compliance issues. In all such cases, the incidents have been addressed by ending or adapting the activity.”

Feinstein added that the committee would take additional steps to ensure oversight of the NSA’s activities, including additional visits to NSA facilities by her staff.

  • sloppyslim

    As bad as it is , anyone want to bet that the NSA is just a bit player in the big picture of government surveillance of US citizens ?

    • Armyspouse1988

      Combining this information with the politically motivated abuses at IRS, FEC, and SEC doesn’t exactly give me a warm fuzzy either.

      • cranky_1970

        Dictatorship of the Ivy League progressive corporate thieves.

  • I_Go_Pogo

    That’s what happens when a marxist is elected to the White House, and has people like Eric Holder, Valerie Jarrett, David Axlerod, Cass Sunstein, et al, setting the agenda. Anyone bother to read “Dreams From My Father” ?

    • Armyspouse1988

      The ends justify the means.

    • cranky_1970

      I tried to read it, but I kept falling asleep because it was stupefyingly prolix, dull, and self-indulgent.

      • I_Go_Pogo

        No, it’s FROM. Telling me that HIS dreams are his father’s dreams. His father was a marxist, a muslim, and hated the British. check, check, and check.

        • cranky_1970

          I see, Obama doesn’t have any ambitions of his own. He was just a Manchurian candidate all along. Programmed by his self-loathing mother who couldn’t be bothered actually raising her half negro child.

    • Chiron202

      This is what happens when a corporate-friendly-philosophically-Republican Democrat gets elected to the White House. Communism may start with totalitarianism, but Capitalism ends there every time. Obama is simply the latest King put into power by the Wizards of Wall Street.

      • I_Go_Pogo


  • Karmi

    Of course there’s more … the Obama administration used the NSA to target political opponents and to search for anyone or group not in total step with the Obama administration. The IRS and DoJ would be used for final solutions , and such.

  • MurphsLaw

    What don’t you not get about ” Fundamental Transformation” ?

  • carla5731

    The Obama administration has no problem abdicating rule of law and using the DOJ to attack the states, not to mention wasting time investigating individuals like George Zimmerman, so of course the NSA believes they can do as they wish. To them the Constitution is a guideline that they all choose to ignore.

    We watch citizens’ rights get ripped away, while at the same time we’re told that if we don’t support extending the privilege of amnesty to illegal immigrants we’re racist. I think the federal government has their priorities out of whack and it’s shameful that members of Congress shout more loudly on behalf of “Dreamers” than they do for the rights of legal citizens.

    At this point I don’t care anymore. I think the government has turned into a very expensive farce that doesn’t deserve my respect or my tax dollars.

  • FrankDrebinLives

    By the time all the investigating is done years from now, this administration will go down as the most corrupt, and the most inept administration in the history of the United States. Hopefully we will never see another one like it.

    • cranky_1970

      Maybe we should just forget the Obama administration ever happened. The lessons can be summed up very simply: “One David Dinkins was enough.”

  • aniptofar

    When an organization is run incorrectly, do you blame the employee or the management??? Feinstien and Obama should be removed. Both are want to be facist.

  • stuartm80127

    Yawn. Please show just one case where the rights of an American were infringed, just one. On the other hand can we seek assurances that the NSA isn’t sharing information with the IRS on the targeting of conservative groups?

    • Armyspouse1988

      When you apply for a tax exemption, and are left dangling for OVER two years because your politics don’t match that of the present administration? It’s a known fact that the IRS has illegally coordinated and shared confidential information with the FEC, and the SEC on these abuses. Confidential tax information was leaked to political opponents during the 2012 elections. We are now hearing from US Senators that the abuses of the NSA “are just the tip of the iceberg.” Perhaps this will lead to other agencies–and we can finally clean house of the most transparently corrupt administration in US history? God help us all!

  • Paul B.

    “Tip of the iceberg” is quite a powerful metaphor. IIRC, 7/8ths of the iceberg is hidden. In this case, that wouldn’t surprise me at all. The government is out of control, and at the same time this surveillance is going on, it is physically arming itself against the population.

  • HolyCowRUKiddingme

    The REAL TARGETS were and are anyone running against Obama and Company – This is the Chicago way on STEROIDS

  • Silmarillion

    The government has become too big and the corruption too pervasive. Fast and Furious…. Benghazi…. NSA…The propaganda wing of the democratic party (formally known as the media) The turning point was the punitive targeting by the IRS towards conservatives. When the government targets and then persecutes its citizens, the Constitution no longer exists.

    It’s time to start again with a brand new country.
    In a literary sense, the place John Galt went.

    ~~John Galt Take Me With You dot com~~

  • Igor Shafarevich

    Without centralized coercive power, it is impossible to force people to chase illusions such as “fair” income distribution, “man-made climate change”, and “social justice”.

    • darrin

      The American Geophysical Union ,a compendium of over 60,000 scientists from over 140 countries ,released a statement recently that climate change is indeed man made ,and not natural. You sir, have no idea what you are talking about.

      • Igor Shafarevich

        The climate’s been changing for 4.5 billion years.

    • Jack C

      darrin, you sir are an idiot

      • Igor Shafarevich

        I thought it was a fair point. You’re not disputing it.

  • PasoFinoCA

    1 dozen reports a year? That’s it? “oversight”? Hah. Exactly what does “adapting the activity” mean? How about closing down the NSA?

  • Andre Leonard

    The American public, treated as sheep to be sheared again. Of course this is just the tip of the ice-berg. The whole purpose of government is to provide a lucrative living to those who’s job it is to capture the public.

    Bad enough, we get herded around, taxed to no end and regulated. Add to this the elimination of liberty and you have our modern day government. Along with $17 trillion in debt and 11 million illegal aliens.

  • Liberty: Minimized Coercion

    In no way does the majority approach to decision-making used in democratic processes imply the right of larger groups or nations to dictate to smaller ones.

  • David

    Is Senator Rob Wyden of Oregon a relative of Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon?

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...