NSA Promises 'We Won't
Spy on You' - Meanwhile,
Suit Filed
From: Bill Kingsbury <>
From: Para <para@CLARA.NET>

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The National Security Agency, which uses spy satellites and foreign listening posts to monitor threats to US security, denied on Monday that it intended to begin spying on Americans at home.
Newsweek magazine in its Dec. 13 issue said the NSA was drafting a memorandum of understanding to clarify ways in which it could help the FBI track terrorists and criminals in the United States.
"Under Executive Order, NSA is authorized to provide technical assistance to law enforcement," a statement from the agency said. "Any assistance NSA provides is performed in accordance with federal law and regulations."
The NSA and CIA are supposed to operate overseas and not spy on Americans domestically, while the FBI investigates federal crimes inside the United States.
The Newsweek article said there was a new alliance between the NSA and FBI and posed the question: "In their zeal, will the crime-fighters and electronic sleuths illegally spy on US citizens?"
But Judith Emmel, NSA spokeswoman, said the intelligence agency would not be snooping on Americans in the United States.
"The National Security Agency operates in strict accordance with US laws and regulations in protecting the privacy rights of US persons," she said. "Its activities are conducted with the highest constitutional, legal, and ethical standards."
The Newsweek article created a stir among some observers, who saw any link between the NSA and FBI on domestic issues as opening the door to possible infringement of individual rights to privacy.
Harvey Kushner, chair of the criminal justice department at Long Island University, said if the NSA helped the FBI track terrorists in the United States it would set "a dangerous precedent" and violate the agency's mission.
"Do we really want the NSA to be spying on US citizens?" Kushner said in a statement reacting to the article.
"Where will it stop? American public opinion over the years has overwhelmingly spoken against covert and clandestine agencies mucking around in domestic affairs," he said.
One intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, after making checks expressed lack of knowledge of the memorandum of understanding that Newsweek referred to in its article.
EPIC Sues NSA Over Snooping
A Wired News Report,1282,32905,00.html 12-8-99
The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the National Security Agency to force the release of documents pertaining to alleged NSA surveillance of American citizens.
"The charter of the National Security Agency does not authorize domestic intelligence gathering," < EPIC director Marc Rotenberg said in a statement. "Yet we have reason to believe that the NSA is engaged in the indiscriminate acquisition and interception of domestic communications taking place over the Internet."
In the lawsuit, filed on 3 December in the District Court of the District of Columbia, the watchdog group asks for public disclosure of internal NSA documents that discuss the legality of the agency's intelligence activities.
EPIC also plans to evaluate the legal basis for the interception of citizen communications by the NSA in a study to be released early next year. That study will be conducted by a Scottish investigative journalist and TV producer who conducted a similar investigation for the European Parliament.
The European report said there was evidence of the activity of an internationally coordinated project known as <,1283,32586,00.htmlEchelon. It produced the the first public documentation of activities akin to a long-suspected global project that monitors citizen communications around the world.
After the National Security Agency refused to provide legal memoranda on citizen surveillance to the House Intelligence Committee earlier this year, Representative Porter Goss (R-Florida), chairman of the oversight panel, reprimanded the agency.
NSA's rationale for withholding the memos was "unpersuasive and dubious," Goss wrote in a committee report in May. He noted that if NSA lawyers "construed the Agency's authorities too permissively, then the privacy interests of the citizens of the United States could be at risk."
EPIC's lawsuit follows a previous unsuccessful request to obtain information from the NSA.
EPIC had submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to NSA for the surveillance documents shortly after the release of the Intelligence Committee report. But the NSA never responded to the request, EPIC said.
The Freedoom of Information Act imposes a time limit of 20 working days for an agency to respond.


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