An interesting report on Ars Technica reveals that the National Security Agency would continue bulk spying activities even if Congress passes a law forbidding them to do so. In fact, the agency would likely take the fight to court – though which court that would be remains uncertain.
This was revealed at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week concerning "continued oversight of US Government Surveillance." Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, heard some pretty amazing testimony from Deputy Attorney General James Cole. Leahy who has sponsored the Senate version of a bill called the USA Freedom Act (PDF), one of a few that would ban bulk data collection.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole seemed to imply that the NSA would not shut down any programs, and that the Department of Justice would want to hear how courts interpreted the language of the bill if passed.
"Right now the interpretation of the word 'relevant' is a broad interpretation," said Cole. "Adding 'pertinent to a foreign agent' or 'somebody in contact with a foreign agent' could be another way of talking about relevance as it is right now," he added. "We'd have to see how broadly the court interprets that or how narrowly."
NSA chief General Keith Alexander also asked lawmakers not to pass the ban. "There's no other way we know of to connect the dots," he said.
But Leahy was undeterred and promised to push forward with his bill.
"We give up a lot of our privacy in this country, and frankly I worry about giving up too much," Leahy said.
We'll have more on this story as it develops.
Source: Ars Technica