Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Snowden revelations concern U.S. lawmakers

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WASHINGTON -- New revelations from leaker Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency has overstepped its authority thousands of times since 2008 are stirring renewed calls in Congress for serious changes to NSA spy programs.

Reaction from lawmakers undermines White House hopes U.S. President Barack Obama had quieted the controversy with assurances of oversight.

An internal audit provided by Snowden to the Washington Post shows the agency has repeatedly broken privacy rules or exceeded its legal authority every year since Congress granted it broad new powers in 2008.

Obama has repeatedly said Congress was briefed on programs revealed by Snowden in June. They vacuum up vast amounts of metadata -- telephone numbers called and called from, the time and duration of calls -- from most Americans' phone records, as well as global Internet usage data.

Senior lawmakers said they had been unaware of the audit until they read the news Friday.

Senate judiciary committee chairman Patrick Leahy announced he would hold hearings into the revelations.

Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said her committee had been notified of compliance problems through legally required reports to her committee.

"The committee has never identified an instance in which the NSA has intentionally abused its authority to conduct surveillance for inappropriate purposes," the Democrat said.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the revelations "are extremely disturbing."

Most infractions revealed involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the U.S., both of which are restricted by law.

The White House declined comment Friday.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 17, 2013 A23

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