The National Security Agency thinks we have been misled by The Guardian‘s report of a new tool, XKeyscore, that allows agents to read the content of email and private social media chatter.
“Allegations of widespread, unchecked analyst access to NSA collection data are simply not true,” reads a press release issued by the agency today. “Access to XKEYSCORE, as well as all of NSA’s analytic tools, is limited to only those personnel who require access for their assigned tasks.”
Earlier today, The Guardian released details about the previously top-secret surveillance tool, which reportedly allows authorized analysts to search the name, date, and content of internet communications (picture above). The Guardian argues that this power requires no warrant and was given to scores of analysts, such as their informant, Edward Snowden.
“Our tools have stringent oversight and compliance mechanisms built in at several levels,” continues the report. “Not every analyst can perform every function, and no analyst can operate freely. Every search by an NSA analyst is fully auditable, to ensure that they are proper and within the law.”
However, outspoken critic and Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden implied that the executive branch has been dishonest in its reporting. After the White House declassified the order requiring Verizon to hand over telephone meta-data, Wyden issued this statement:
“The newly declassified briefing documents released today show that the executive branch repeatedly made inaccurate statements to Congress about the value and effectiveness of the bulk email records collection program that was carried out under the USA PATRIOT Act until 2011. These statements had the effect of misleading members of Congress about the usefulness of this program.”
So, should we believe the NSA? If you trust them.