Tim Cushing writes: Perhaps spurred on by the success of the Snowden leaks, the NSA has made its own “me too” effort and declassified a few documents ahead of Senate Judiciary Committee hearing dealing with bulk records collection and FISA oversight.
Given the choice, I’m sure we’d all rather read the unredacted versions of these documents, like those supplied by Ed Snowden, but all the same, it’s refreshing to see an intelligence agency being forced into some minimal transparency.
What the NSA revealed isn’t necessarily a surprise, but there are a few (perhaps unintentional) aspects of the declassified documents that are worth noting.
The first notable aspect, one that simply can’t be ignored, is the statement from James Clapper’s office that accompanied the unveiling.
A statement issued by Clapper’s office said he “has determined that the release of these documents is in the public interest.”
So, when Clapper releases documents, it’s in the “public’s interest.” When Snowden does it, it’s espionage that does “grave and serious damage to national security.”
Granted, the NSA’s releases are heavily redacted (for security!), but if all that’s being sought is so-called “business records/metadata” that have no expectation of privacy, what difference does it make who breaks the news and how much they expose? It’s all above board and, according to the DNI’s general counsel, everyone affected already knows they have no “expectation of privacy” in terms of the data collected. If we follow that logic, there’s no reason these documents should ever have been classified. After all, it’s pretty much the NSA/FBI equivalent of a FOIA request — all public records, all available without a warrant. [Continue reading…]