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As Congress holds its second major public hearing on the National Security Agency’s bulk spying, we speak with Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who first published whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations. The NSA admitted their analysis of phone records and online behavior far exceeded what it had previously disclosed. “The fact that you now see members of both political parties increasingly angry over the fact that they were misled and lied to by top-level Obama administration officials, that the laws that they enacted in the wake of 9/11 – as broad as they were – are being incredibly distorted by secret legal interpretations approved by secret courts, really indicates exactly that Snowden’s motives to come forward with these revelations, at the expense of his liberty and even his life, were valid and compelling,” Greenwald says. “If you think about whistleblowing in terms of people who expose things the government is hiding that they shouldn’t be, in order to bring about reform, I think what you’re seeing is the fruits of classic whistleblowing.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZALEZ: On Wednesday, lawmakers held the second major public congressional hearing into the NSA’s widespread surveillance programs since they were revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. During a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, representatives on both sides of the aisle expressed deep concern about the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records and other communications. In a stark contrast to last month’s hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, the bipartisan House panel forcefully questioned senior officials from the NSA, FBI, Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Democratic Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the committee’s highest-ranking Democrat, noted that collecting telephone metadata is not covered under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.
REP. JOHN CONYERS: We never at any point during this debate have approved the type of unchecked, sweeping surveillance of United States citizens employed by our government in the name of fighting the war on terrorism. Section 215 authorized the government to obtain certain business records only if it can show to the FISA court that the records are relevant to an ongoing national security investigation. Now, what we think we have here is a situation in which if the government cannot provide a clear, public explanation for how its program is consistent with the statute, then it must stop collecting this information immediately. And so, this metadata problem, to me, has gotten quite far out of hand, even given the seriousness of the problems that surround it and created its need.