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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Friday, July 07, 2006

Senators want NSA to share its secrets

WASHINGTON, July 7 (UPI) -- A U.S. Senate panel wants the National Security Agency to distribute its data more widely.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is pushing the super-secret NSA to further open its databases of raw signals intelligence to a wider audience within the intelligence community. But the effort comes at a time when Congress, courts and the privacy community are closely scrutinizing the legality of the agency's surveillance activities, National Journal's Technology Daily reported Thursday.

The committee ordered the NSA and the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency to arrive at an agreement by the end of August to extend access to NSA's databases to more DIA analysts.

"If the (memorandum of agreement) is not finished by this deadline, the committee will seek stronger measures in conference with the House on the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 2007 to ensure timely completion," according to comments filed in a report with the committee's late May approval of the fiscal 2007 intelligence authorization bill.

Panel Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said in the report that the committee was concerned that the intelligence community was not sharing enough raw information throughout its branches.

The agreement on terms of access to the NSA databases should serve as a model for the terms of access to NSA and DIA databases for the wider intelligence community, said the committee report.

To better enable information sharing, the committee has inserted a provision in the bill establishing a pilot program that would exempt the intelligence community from privacy law -- if the information is relevant to "a lawful and authorized" foreign intelligence or counter-intelligence program, Technology Daily said.

Privacy advocates have expressed concern about these and other recommendations made by the Senate committee's fiscal 2007 authorization bill because they have not been publicly debated.
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