Justice Department: NSA phone record collection may have resulted in one criminal case

By End the Lie

Deputy Attorney General James Cole (Image credit: Lonnie Tague for the Department of Justice)

Deputy Attorney General James Cole (Image credit: Lonnie Tague for the Department of Justice)

A Department of Justice official told Congress on Tuesday that there “may be one” instance of a criminal case filed by federal investigators using information from the NSA’s phone record collection program.

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The statement from Deputy Attorney General James Cole came in response to a question asked by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas).

“One criminal case?” Poe said. “[The NSA program] is an invasion of personal privacy, and it’s justified on the idea that we’re going to capture these terrorists. The evidence that you’ve told is all this collection has resulted in one bad guy having criminal charges filed on him.”

However, Cole stood behind the program, saying that it was aimed at large investigations.

“The point of the statute is not to do criminal investigations,” Cole said, according to PC World. “The point of the statute is to do foreign intelligence investigations.”

Cole also said that the NSA probably collects records pertaining to congressional office phone numbers.

“Mr. Cole, do you collect 202-225 and four digits afterwards?” asked Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), RT reports.

“We probably do, Mr. Congressman,” Cole said. “But we’re not allowed to look at any of those, however, unless we have reasonable, articulable suspicion that those numbers are related to a known terrorist threat.”

Others in Congress said they had been misled by the Obama administration’s descriptions of NSA programs.

“We feel that we have been blatantly deceived on what some of these programs have done,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).

Former Justice Department official Steven Bradbury defended the collection of phone records against attempts to pass NSA reform legislation.

Some reform legislation “would expose the nation to vulnerability by substantially weakening or even destroying outright the effectiveness” of the bulk phone records collection program, according to Bradbury.

Bradbury also said that a proposal to add a civil liberties lawyer in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court would slow down the approval of collections and “would, I fear, prove dangerously unworkable in the event of the next catastrophic attack on the United States,” according to PC World.

David Cole, a Georgetown University Law School professor of constitutional law, said that Congress should pass the NSA reform bill called the “USA Freedom Act,” which has been sponsored by members of the Judiciary Committee.

The bill would only allow the Justice Department and NSA to collect U.S. phone records when they are connected to a suspected terrorist. The NSA recently indiscriminately collected all U.S. phone records held by Verizon.

Cole said the legislation is just reinforcing the way that Congress was sold the Patriot Act by the Bush administration.

“I don’t think a single member of Congress thought, ‘what we mean by that is there are no limits on the business records that you can get,’” he said.

Dean Garfield, the president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, slammed NSA surveillance as detrimental to U.S. businesses.

“Made in the USA is no longer a badge of honor, but a basis for questioning the integrity and the independence of U.S.-made technology,” he said. “Many countries are using the NSA’s disclosures as a basis for accelerating their policies around forced localization and protectionism.”

Just how much the U.S. tech industry could be hurt by the disclosures of the NSA programs remains to be seen.

What is quite clear, though, is that many in Congress are getting fed up with the Obama administration’s approach to the issue.

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4 Responses to Justice Department: NSA phone record collection may have resulted in one criminal case

  1. Jay Kenney February 5, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Well…I’d like to see applicant get approval for a Feder research grant with research results like this. Yet, the administration wants to pour more billions into the NSA’s “data” collection program in violation of civil liberties. And this guy’s name is a black mark on the entire Bradbury clan. I’m thinking of Ray.

    Reply
  2. concerned american February 5, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    Its worse than that. Some knucklehead at Nsa is violating vrrizion records and stealing information about costumumers then buying Iphones and selling black market.
    nsa is sharing far too much about to secret tech. with its new friend the security company who makes clickers. They are hacking microsoft the same way..using Linkedin..to entrr microsoft email accounts in usa…and mexico.
    Nsa and darpa are illegally violating citizene rights on levels everyone including many department hesds can imagine. They have no oversight, got hired for minds eye and supercomputer tech. that has no way to check thier integrity or moonlighting activities of sattelite feed hacking and bending..aka light bending …sattelite mirror bending of data feeds. They are betraying within…its very bad and very real. Unsanctioned attacks on persons of interest…and that means whever has dollars…they cant be caught because few understand the sattelite invisibility and feed hacking and placemarks they are using.

    Reply
  3. Linda February 18, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    spying with the eye

    Reply
  4. Linda February 18, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    The microchip has been in place for decades to make the wealthy rich and tell them the Mason do not own me nor my family.

    Reply

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