John Kerry defends snooping, says programme was misunderstood

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 24, 2013

US Secretary of State John Kerry at a press conference in New Delhi on Monday.   -  PTI

The visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday said that there was an “enormous amount of misinformation and misunderstanding” about the programme in the US which allows for monitoring of individual e-mail and telephone conversations.

The Guardian newspaper had recently acquired top secret documents about data mining used by the US National Security Agency which showed that India came in fifth with 6.3 billion pieces of information being collected from the country’s computer and data networks in one month alone.

The whistle-blower allegedly responsible for leaking the top secret document, Edward Snowden, recently left his secret hiding place in Hong Kong enroute to Moscow before moving on to possibly Ecuador. Snowden is a former Central Intelligence Agency employee.

Speaking to the media at the conclusion of the 4{+t}{+h} India-US Strategic Dialogue, Secretary Kerry said the law that is utilised in the US does not look at content it does not look at individual e-mails and does not listen to people’s telephone conversations.

“It is a random survey by computer of any telephone or just a number, not even a name associated. It takes those random numbers and looks at whether those random numbers are linked to terrorists. Only then can they take that information to a judge in a special court and ask that court the permission to be able to go further in the investigation,” the Secretary said.

Kerry pointed out that all three branches of the American Government – executive, judiciary and legislator — were aware and part of this programme by virtue of vote, implementing it or passing on it as the judiciary.

“In so doing the evidence has shown from our FBI, intelligence community that we have avoided terrorist acts and saved lives,” he said.

Published on June 24, 2013

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