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    Whistleblower: Expansion of NSA Spy Powers Exposes Bipartisan Hypocrisy

    © AFP 2018 / SAUL LOEB
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Senate followed a hypocritical double standard by approving the extension of section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), allowing warrantless spying on non-US citizen terror suspects, AT&T/NSA whistleblower Mark Klein told Sputnik.

    The Senate passed the measure on Thursday by 65 votes to 34, with many Democrats joining majority Republicans in renewing it. Requests to identify Americans in intelligence intercepts under FISA program reportedly numbered in the hundreds during the final days of the Obama administration.

    "The latest Senate passage of section 702 of FISA is a routine exercise in total hypocrisy which does nothing to curtail abuses," Klein stated on Friday.

    Klein noted that the Republican majority in the Senate could have included practical measures to try and strengthen privacy protection for ordinary citizens in renewing the legislation, but they chose not to do so.

    "These are the same senators who complain about alleged FISA abuses directed at [President Donald] Trump, but only a few days ago rejected a modest privacy protection measure for FISA," Klein said.

    However, the political consensus to allow the US intelligence establishment to continue practicing electronic surveillance on a national scale included the Democrats as well as the Republicans, Klein observed.

    "The Democrats are no better as they enabled the worst abuses under Bush and Obama while blocking attempts at reform," he said.

    Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chair Dianne Feinstein had supported the US intelligence community in its efforts to discredit whistleblower Edward Snowden and falsely accuse him of treason against the United States, Klein recalled.

    "Senator Feinstein, for instance, considers Snowden's heroic 2013 whistleblowing ‘treason,’ " Klein said.

    Feinstein had also refused to give Klein a hearing seven years earlier when he exposed the previously secret collaboration between the NSA and AT&T, Klein recollected.

    "Back when I was revealing the NSA-AT&T connection in 2006, Feinstein refused to even meet with me," Klein said.

    There was no significant difference between the support for secret surveillance operations across the entire United States offered by both dominant political parties, Klein observed.

    "The problem is both parties are wedded to the surveillance state, but merely want to manipulate it for their own ends," he concluded.

    Klein is a now-retired 22-year AT&T employee who, in 2006, exposed that the company had a secret room in its San Francisco facility where the NSA had been allowed to record all Internet traffic on AT&T's backbone lines.

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    Tags:
    hypocrisy, legislation, surveillance, US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), NSA, US Congress, AT&T, Mark Klein, United States
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