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U.S., Allies Collecting Data on Global Scale

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Documents Show U.S. and Allies Collecting Data, Using Surveillance on Global Scale


(Washington D.C.) - In a massive leak of documents -- containing thousands of references to both U.S. intelligence agencies and British intelligence agencies -- revelations have shown a large-scale global surveillance program managed by the National Security Agency in cooperation with U.S. allies, including the United Kingdom. Previously, officials in the intelligence community provided reporters proof of a massive collection of phone conversations within the U.S.. However, these new revelations show that the U.S. is maintaining programs which collect and store data from internet and text communications from American's and foreign officials who travel to the U.S.. 


According to the leaked documents, a program which was first setup by President George W. Bush was expanded by President Barack Obama and former President Andrew Stevenson. President Obama worked to "expand NSA programs to lock in global targets and cooperation with U.S. tech companies, including Verizon and Yahoo." The documents have put Yahoo under fire, with the leaks implicating the company in "personally managing a program" which would allow the NSA to monitor and store emails sent through the company's messaging system. 


The programs have also been shown to target Apple phone users using a top-secret program called Prism. According to the documents, which include a 44 slide power-point presentation, Prism has the ability to "directly collect data from the source of servers" of major internet companies and service providers within the United States. In a statement, an Apple spokesman said he "had never heard of Prism" and was "unaware of any existing program" similar to Prism. The access Prism was able to obtain was enabled through changes to U.S. surveillance laws under President George W. Bush and was renewed by President Obama in December 2012. The documents show the presentation call Prism "one of the most valued accesses for the NSA." 


Washington has already began reacting to the leaks with Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee Doug Hill immediately initiating hearings on the matter, inviting NSA Director Keith B. Alexander and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to testify on the matter. General Alexander has been leading the NSA since 2005, when he was nominated by President George W. Bush. The reactions to the massive leak of documents have been mixed, but largely have been critical of the NSA. Senate Majority Whip Hugh Merchant (R-SC) called the leaks "embarrassing" and promised accountability for what he described as domestic spying. Senator for New Mexico Diego Zamora called it a "power grab by subsequent Democratic President's." 


Thus far, there have been no major criticisms of the leak themselves by major leaders in Washington. Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice called the leaks "a massive breach" and "a danger to U.S. national security." Former Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was highly critical of the leaks, calling it an "irreparable harm" to U.S. national security. Other Democrats have blamed the far-reaching measures of the U.S. PATRIOT Act as the culprit behind the creation of programs which lead to massive collections of data from American's. 


Both NSA Director Keith B. Alexander and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson have agreed to come before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed hearing to discuss the programs and answer questions. Experts predict there will likely be public ridicule in Congress of both the Obama Administration and Stevenson Administration. "Many of these Senator's, at least those receiving the highest intelligence briefings, were likely aware of these programs," John Roades, a cyber-security expert and former FBI agent, told the New York Times. "This issue likely has a higher chance of being politicized, against U.S. intelligence agencies, rather than the person or persons who might have leaked this information," he said. 

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