Congress will rein in NSA’s domestic snooping, predicts top U.S. intel official: Congress will curtail or even shut down the National Security Agency’s domestic snooping program over concerns that it violates Americans’ privacy, the top U.S. intelligence official predicted Thursday.
“It’s very clear that — to the extent we get to keep these tools at all — they’re going to be legislatively amended,” Director of National IntelligenceJames R. Clapper said, referring to the NSA’s warrantless domestic data-gathering exposed by former agency contractor Edward Snowden.
His remarks underline growing unease, in Congress and the country at large, about the broad powers federal agencies have laid claim to under the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendment Act.
But Mr. Clapper, a career intelligence official who is the titular head of all 16 U.S. spy agencies, said that concerns about the agency’s domestic activities are unfounded.
“I can guarantee you that the privacy of Americans is not being compromised,” he told a meeting of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, an organization of government contractors who work with intelligence agencies.
He blamed the concerns among policymakers on an “understanding gap” with Congress and a news media that reported leaked documents by immediately imputing the worst motives to U.S. agencies. “They go straight to the deepest, darkest place they can,” he said.