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Be afraid, be very afraid: FBI head says U.S. public should be suspicious
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Should would be afraid of government incursion into our everyday lives? The head of the FBI says that we should all be afraid. Be very afraid. FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that he understands why people worry about the scope of the government's powers. He in fact, agrees with them.
In the months following NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents detailing the country's intelligence programs, FBI Head James Comey said that "it's hard for me, sometimes, to find the space and time to talk about what I do and why I do it."
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I believe people should be suspicious of government power. I am," Comey said. "I think this country was founded by people who were worried about government power so they divided it among three branches," he added.
In the months following NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents detailing the country's intelligence programs, Comey said that "it's hard for me, sometimes, to find the space and time to talk about what I do and why I do it."
However -- Comey said that the FBIs programs are run responsibly. He added that those operations had also helped to track down kidnappers and save children. He admits that the controversial surveillance techniques have raised privacy concerns.
Comey assumed his top post shortly after the Snowden revelations came to light last summer. While much of the public's outrage has focused on activities at the NSA, the FBI has also come under fire for its use of national security letters and operations to track foreign terrorists operating in the U.S.
Comey told senators on the panel that one of these efforts, which allows the government to track people outside the U.S. who may be plotting terror attacks, is "extraordinarily valuable."
Authorized under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, include a program called PRISM that taps into data networks at major Web companies like Google, Facebook and Skype. Agents there can look at photos, emails and other documents people upload.
The FBI's national security letters, which Comey said were not used to obtain bulk quantities of information about people, require banks, phone companies, Internet service providers and other firms to hand over details about their customers.
Those who receive these letters are largely prohibited from revealing details about the letters they get, which critics say amounts to a "gag order."
Legislation is advancing in the House and Senate that would rein in those and other government data collection programs.
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