Here is what caught our eye in the world of intelligence this week:
A federal appeals court ruled that the NSA’s bulk phone records program violates the USA Patriot Act. The three-judge panel unanimously overturned a lower court decision and determined that the government had “stretched the meaning of the statute” to enable surveillance in “staggering” volumes. With the statue set to expire in less than a month, best viagra discount a bipartisan bill seeking to reform the program has been introduced. Another bill has been introduced to completely reauthorize the program until 2020. However, cialis canada with the court’s ruling, if this latter bill passes, the government will have to persuade the Supreme Court to reverse the appeal court’s decision in order to keep the program from ending.
French lawmakers approved a bill that gives intelligence agencies broader spying powers. The new bill waives the need for judicial warrants in order to deploy phone taps, medicine microphones, cameras, and other devices. Despite opposition from critic who said it will lead to mass-scale surveillance or that it is just a French version of the USA Patriot Act, the legislation passed the lower house of parliament by a wide margin with 438 votes in favor and 86 against. In response to critics French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the bill vital to counter-terrorism activities and gives intelligence services powers to be more efficient. The upper house of parliament will vote on the bill in June.
Reports from Germany claim their cooperation with the U.S. over data collection will soon be limited. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been supportive of the close relationship between German and U.S. intelligence agencies, nurse even when documents revealed by Snowden showed the U.S. had tapped her phone. However, she has recently had to face her critics and address the report that the BND had spied on German and other European companies at the behest of the NSA. Exactly how the Germans will limit their cooperation is unknown, though some sources suggest the restrictions will involve internet searches and not phone data. Intelligence officials in the U.S. suggest the impact of the German restrictions will be limited as Merkel has maintained that Germany needs American cooperation to remain safe.
The top lawyer for DNI James Clapper said the spy chief forgot about the NSA surveillance program when he was asked if the government collected data on American citizens. The lapse came in 2013 during his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee when Clapper told Sen. Wyden that the government did not “wittingly” collect data on millions of Americans. According to the general counsel for the ODNI, “This was not an untruth or a falsehood. This was just a mistake on his part.” However, critics do not take the mistake lightly as some have even said it amounts to perjury. A spokesman for the DNI said they should have at least sent a letter to the panel after the fact to correct the mistake, but failed to do so.