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NSA Uses Christmas Holiday to Minimize Coverage of Documents Vindicating Snowden

NSA Uses Christmas Holiday to Minimize Coverage of Documents Vindicating Snowden

by Josiah WilmothJanuary 2, 2015

The United States National Security Agency (NSA) recently released a variety of documents containing oversight reports in compliance with a court order from this past summer. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) obtained access to the documents via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. According to the agreement, the NSA was supposed to release the documents on December 22. However, the ACLU claims the NSA released the documents–many of which back up NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s claims about the organization’s misconduct–late to take advantage of most Americans’ preoccupation with Christmas festivities and minimize the documents’ exposure.

Also read: Former CIA and NSA Director: “We Kill People Based on Metadata”

The NSA Purposely Released the Documents Late

NSAAccording to the ACLU, the NSA shipped the documents via FedEx on December 22 in the afternoon and that the ACLU did not receive them until the next day. They consider this an under-handed attempt to minimize the impact of the documents–which contain (heavily redacted) reports on employee misconduct.  Speaking to The Guardian, ACLU staff attorney Patrick Toomey says he believes the NSA purposely released the documents late so that they would receive less exposure in the press than if they were released during an ordinary news cycle.

I certainly think the NSA would prefer to have the documents released right ahead of the holidays in order to have less public attention on what they contain.

He elaborated that many of the documents vindicate NSA former analyst-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden’s claims that analysts have excessive power and regularly violate civil rights outlined by the U.S. Constitution.

There are certain portions of the documents that really vindicate some of the things [Edward] Snowden said when he first described the NSA surveillance in terms of the ability of analysts to conduct queries – without authorisation – of raw internet traffic.

Toomey’s statements have merit. In today’s fast-paced world, news grows “old” within days–sometimes hours. Even a story as sensational and important as the release of documents that show NSA analysts committing blatant civil rights violations can quickly become shuffled out of the news cycle. It is no coincidence that the ACLU did not receive the documents until it was too late to analyze them before most people went on holiday, nor is it random that the NSA neglected to post the documents online until later in the day on December 23. The NSA document dump has received–and will continue to receive–coverage, but the timing of the release and the rapidity of the news cycle will, without a doubt, minimize public awareness.

Images from Wikimedia Commons.

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  • Flash Reiker

    “…minimize public awareness?”. What public awareness? Ask 5 Americans who Edward Snowden is and 5 out of the 5 won’t have a clue. Ask them about a sports celebrity and they can tell you detailed information about their sports and personal life. Americans don’t have any awareness. They watch TV.

    • Josiah Wilmoth

      Sad, but true.

    • sjs

      That’s a huge worry. If Americans don’t care about their hard fought for civil rights are we saying they may not care about the constitution or have most given up as they don’t stand a chance against misdemeanarous government agencies? Does it matter when the NSA releases these documents? Most people know by now that Snowdon is probably telling the truth. I guess the content of these documents would make him less of a ‘traitor’ ?

  • All Americans

    Just like companies have to trust admins with root access so they can do their job. Admins have always peeked behind the privacy curtain, but generally still keeps it under wraps and maintains discretion. The US has to trust our spying tools to someone and there will always be some degree of violation because the FBI/CIA/NSA are just people. Snowden violated our trust and humiliated the United States airing all our laundry to the world. He grew jealous over time watching those revel with wide ranging access and found a way to pump his ego by stealing from the USA and putting our secrets out in the wild. Snowden is a criminal and should never be allowed back in the United States except to rot in a cell at Leavenworth.

    • venzen

      So monstrous surveillance is OK and whistle-blowers are criminals? Surely you jest or you write this in complete ignorance of what the secret police do to ordinary people?