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NEW YORK – The government is collecting large amounts of information about Americans' internet communications, according to a report published today in The Guardian. The newspaper also published an internal government report detailing the blanket collection of email and other internet data as part of the NSA's original warrantless wiretapping program, which was apparently modified over time.
"The revelations about our government's spying raise new and troubling questions about the extent to which the government is monitoring Americans' private lives, including whom we email or chat with and what websites we visit," said Alex Abdo, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project. "This is further confirmation that the National Security Agency has been operating in the shadows for far too long. Extreme secrecy has facilitated extreme policy – all at the expense of Americans' constitutional right to be left alone by their government absent specific cause or suspicion. The Obama administration must come clean with the country about the extent to which it believes it may monitor all Americans' emails and phone calls. The debate that the administration has welcomed cannot take place without the facts it continues to conceal."
Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel with the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office, said, "We once again learn the Senate and House Intelligence Committees were briefed and approved of invasive surveillance, this time the bulk collection of our e-mail records without any suspicion of wrongdoing. There are still many unanswered questions, particularly what programs currently exist and what information they collect on innocent Americans. Congress needs to force public disclosure of all legal underpinnings of these programs and get to work on reining them in. It appears clear that the administration, the FISA Court, and many members of the intelligence committees will continue to allow the NSA's broad dragnet of innocent American communications if Congress doesn't act now to stop it."