Senior politicians from both houses of Congress have voiced renewed concerns about the activities of the National Security Agency, the Washington Post reports.
The NSA has come to the public eye — and into the center of attention for many in Washington, too — as questions continue about the security agency without a definitive answer. While it’s old news that the organization has been collecting information about millions of Americans, many politicians are demanding answers as to who knew about the agency’s activities and just how the surveillance could have flown under the radar for so long.
Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican in the House of Representatives, expressed incredulity that the White House could not have known about the intelligence gathering efforts of the United States, including the monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, according to the Post.
Rogers called it a “bit shocking” that people were so surprised by the news, saying that he expected those versed in politics to have more knowledge of how U.S. intelligence agencies work. He also noted that the recent wave of publicity for the National Security Agency has painted them as the bad guys, when in reality he thinks they are the ones trying to keep the country safe.
Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic senator from California, expressed dismay that U.S. intelligence agencies were listening in on phone calls involving world leaders, saying that it was more likely to do harm than good. She echoed calls for a full review of intelligence operations to be conducted by Congress, the Washington Post said.
Feinstein also spoke out on the issue of potentially giving clemency to Edward Snowden, the former government contractor whose leak originated much of what is now known about the agency’s information-gathering activities. She said that while he could have shared the information in a responsible manner, he instead chose to do it in a way that endangered the lives of U.S. soldiers abroad, an act that is inexcusable. Like the White House, she has stayed on the side of refusing clemency to Snowden, at least for the time being.
Politicians haven’t been the only ones critical of the NSA. Eric Schmidt, a chairman at Google, said that the NSA’s spying on data centers is “outrageous,” claiming that the agency’s activities are not only in bad taste — they may be downright illegal, as well. Schmidt’s comments come at a time when many Americans are starting to question whether security agencies pose a greater threat to their way of life than those whom the agencies are trying to catch.
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