With NSA revelations, Sen. Ron Wyden’s vague warnings about privacy finally become clear

The Washington Post reports: It was one of the strangest personal crusades on Capitol Hill: For years, Sen. Ron Wyden said he was worried that intelligence agencies were violating Americans’ privacy.

But he couldn’t say how. That was a secret.

Wyden’s outrage, he said, stemmed from top-secret information he had learned as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But Wyden (D-Ore.) was bound by secrecy rules, unable to reveal what he knew.

Everything but his unhappiness had to be classified. So Wyden stuck to speeches that were dire but vague. And often ignored.

“I want to deliver a warning this afternoon: When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry,” Wyden said on the Senate floor in May 2011.

Two years later, they found out.

The revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden — detailing vast domestic surveillance programs that vacuumed up data on phone calls, e-mails and other electronic communications — have filled in the details of Wyden’s concerns.

So he was right. But that is not the same as winning.

To change the law and restrict domestic spying, the low-key Wyden still must overcome opposition from the White House and the leaders of both parties in Congress. [Continue reading…]

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