And the latest leaker of classified National Security Agency documents is... the Obama Administration itself. Responding to pressure from the public and Congress alike, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence decided to release new information Wednesday regarding "the collection of telephone metadata pursuant to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act."
The documents detail "bulk collection programs" that purport to "provide important tools in the fight against terrorism." They explain that analysts do not monitor the actual content of calls and emails, but rather the basic data of the communications exchanged; including phone numbers, addresses, dates, and times.
The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has authorized the declassification of the latest batch of documents "in the interest of increased transparency [and] the public interest." Still, various portions of the documents have been redacted.
The Senate Judiciary Committee convened Wednesday morning to probe the extent and scope of the NSA's surveillance programs, as well as their effectiveness. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) told the top NSA officials present that there were "going to be proposals for changes to the law."
The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald is pushing Congress to keep digging after the House narrowly voted to maintain funding for NSA programs. Greenwald was scheduled to testify before Congress in an informal hearing this week, but his appearance was unexpectedly canceled yesterday. He cryptically told radio host Brian Lehrer that the documents given to him by Edward Snowden mean that "there's no question I have access to information that members of Congress don't."