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article imageSnowden's exposure of NSA triggers important reforms

By Dragos Ilca     Sep 15, 2013 in World
The intelligence community's reaction to Edward Snowden's ever-growing scandal regarding National Security Agency (NSA) triggered an important debate around global spying.
The court that overlooks the US surveillance system has ordered, according to The Guardian a review of another set of American phone records in order to decide whether they should to be declassified. The court has also acknowledged that in the light of Snowden's leaks, a new important public debate emerged about warranted legal reforms. According to Judge Dennis Saylor (via Forbes):
“The unauthorized disclosure in June 2013 of a Section 215 Order and government statements in response to that disclosure, have engendered considerable public interest and debate about Section 215,” Saylor wrote, referring to Snowden’s first leak to be published, a Patriot Act order that demanded Verizon turn over metadata information on millions of its American customers, with similar orders revealed in the following days to have been sent to Sprint and AT&T. “[Further] Publication of FISC opinions relating to this provision would contribute to an informed debate…Publication would also assure citizens of the integrity of this Court’s proceedings.”
The Obama administration has kept until now a delicate state of balance: on one hand admitting the urgency of discussing Snowden's leaks and on the other, stressing their illegality. Even though, as Forbes reports, Edward Snowden was being charged for treason while seeking political asylum, Obama stated in June that he will "welcome the debate" regarding NSA's surveillance program. In contrast, NSA director Keith Alexander stated in a congressional hearing that Snowden's leaks have done "significant and irreversible damage" to U.S. national security and integrity.
The Congress has already started the procedure for reforms. A bill proposed by Senators Jeff Merkley and Mike Lee advocates for reducing the secrecy around the Patriot Act to reveal more of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) rulings, Forbes says.
According to James Clapper, the director of the National Security Agency, the debate that ensued following Snowden's download of at least 50,000 classified documents "actually needed to happen," and "If there's a good side to this [leaks], maybe that's it." However, Clapper stated the constant stream of classified information is "far from over."
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