Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 19, 2009


Raw Story - According to the reporter who first broke the NSA wiretapping story, there is no proof the agency has scaled back its interception of the personal phone calls and email messages of American citizens as promised by the Obama administration or even that it is being straight with Congress about its activities.

James Risen and Eric Lichtblau revealed the NSA's over-collection of data in an article for the New York Times, noting that one NSA analyst was even found to have been reading the private email of former President Bill Clinton.

Risen told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann the next day that he knew of no other cases like the Clinton incident but that many NSA analysts had been abusing their powers in other ways. "It sounded like, from the former NSA analyst that we interviewed, that it was rare to access the emails of celebrities or famous people," Risen stated, "but that it was fairly routine, according to him, for people to access the emails of girlfriends or wives or other people that they might know."

Risen further addressed the more serious question of whether the Obama administration is complying with its promise to scale back NSA data collection. He said that Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), who is the chairman of an intelligence oversight committee, "told us that he is not convinced that the NSA . . . has put an end to it. . . . He believes that it's not inadvertent and that … this may be a flagrant problem that is continuing."

Risen did acknowledge, however, that "other people on the Hill seem to disagree with that."


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