FBI chief: ‘Be suspicious’ of government power

27/05/2014 14:48

Source: The Hill

 

 

The head of the FBI says he understands why people worry about the scope of the government's powers, and in fact, he agrees with them.

“I believe people should be suspicious of government power. I am,” Director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning.

“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 since 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.”

Though the controversial surveillance raised privacy concerns and made people fret that the government was snooping on their behavior, Comey said that the FBIs programs are run responsibly. He added that those operations had also helped to track down kidnappers and save children.

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 National Security Agency, the FBI has also come under fire for its use of national security letters and operations to track foreign terrorists operating in the United States.

One of those efforts, which allows the government to track people outside the U.S. who may be plotting terror attacks, is “extraordinarily valuable,” Comey told senators on the panel.

The efforts, which are 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. From there, agents can look at photos, emails and other documents people upload. 

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