In an interview with ABCNews, the reporter that initially made public information about the National Security Agency’s true surveillance powers said that even the lowest-level NSA analyst at the data collection agency has virtually unrestricted access to trillions of telephone calls and emails from the American people.
Guardian Reporter Glenn Greenwald said that analysts use very simple “supermarket-like” screens that perform powerful and wide-reaching searches based on telephone numbers, email or IP addresses for any data that the NSA has managed to collect. “It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future.”
Greenwald mentioned that although so-called FISA legal restrictions supposedly constrain what analysts search for, no real technical mechanism exists that would prevent any search. “And it’s all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst,” he said.
Although the NSA strongly denies such easy availability of data – and even the tracking of some of it – top secret security documents revealed (read: Snowden) last week suggest that the NSA not only tracks telephone calls and emails, but tracks absolutely everything sent over the wires of the Internet’s transnational fiber optic lines.
Greenwald wants the NSA to respond to these accusations when they testify before the Senate on Wednesday and flatly deny the existence of these described programs in front of Congress and the American people.