Transcript: Testimony of Stewart Baker on possible reforms to the NSA surveillance programs – Oct. 29, 2013

Partial transcript of testimony of Stewart A. Baker, Partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, on possible reforms to the NSA’s surveillance programs before the House Intelligence Committee on Oct. 29, 2013:

I knew that I’d go second and Steve [Bradbury] would do a better job than I of raising many of these issues.

So instead, I’d like to raise for this committee an issue that I think actually poses a greater threat to the privacy of Americans than any aspect of this 215 program that we have discussed, and that is the impact of the international flap over individual stories about individual countries being the targets of certain kinds of surveillance and the manufactured outrage that is being expressed in those countries for reasons that have everything to do with obtaining more information for themselves and giving the United States less information and thereby hurting American privacy.

Let me explain why I say those things.

First, some of the countries that are crying the loudest about their privacy and the shock that the surveillance is being conducted against government officials are themselves guilty of exactly that. The French, the Germans and other countries are quite happy to target Americans, to target American officials, and to target American businesses – something the United States government has never done – to steal commercial secrets from U.S. businesses, and at the same time they’re arguing that they are shocked that the United States would try to find out what their intentions are for the future.

The second aspect of that that is also problematic is that the European Union, which has been complaining bitterly about our intelligence gathering practices has had 50 years to take care of the spying that the French are doing on the Germans and the Germans are doing on the French and has done nothing about it. They’re only raising it when they think they have the United States at a disadvantage.

Third, Europe offers far less privacy protection than the United States. The data that is at risk in the 215 program is gathered by direct order of the European Parliament and it is available to every law enforcement agency in Europe, including lots of American data, not because of legal process but simply by asking for it. And there are automatic gag orders that prevent the providers from telling anyone that they have done that. Large amounts of American data is already stored and accessible in that fashion.

There’s a threefer at work here for the foreign intelligence officials. They believe they can force U.S. companies to store more data abroad and less data in the United States, and when they do that they will be in a position to one, get more jobs because they’ll be storing data in the United States; second, because they will have access to information about Americans and about their own nationals that they don’t have much more easily than they can get it by going to the U.S. authorities; and the U.S. will not have access to that data and will not be able to enforce any privacy restrictions on foreign government access to that.

All of those things, it seems to me, put us in a position where if we offer these countries that are asking us for assurances that they’re not targets of this, not targets of that, that there’ll be new restrictions on U.S. intelligence, if we don’t at the same times say, “What are you going to do about not invading the privacy of Americans, not stealing commercial secrets from U.S. companies?” we have missed an opportunity. We are making a unilateral concession that will harm the privacy of Americans.

###

Learn More:

10 Comments on “Transcript: Testimony of Stewart Baker on possible reforms to the NSA surveillance programs – Oct. 29, 2013

  1. Pingback: Transcript: Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger's Q&A with DNI James Clapper & NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander on surveillance programs - Oct. 29, 2013 | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: Transcript: Rep. Mike Pompeo's Q&A with DNI James Clapper & NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander on surveillance programs - Oct. 29, 2013 | What The Folly?!

  3. Pingback: Transcript: Testimony of Steven Bradbury on possible reforms to the NSA surveillance programs - Oct. 29, 2013 | What The Folly?!

  4. Pingback: Transcript: Hearing Q&A with Rep. Mike Rogers on possible reforms to the NSA surveillance programs - Oct. 29, 2013 | What The Folly?!

  5. Pingback: Transcript: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland’s Q&A with DNI James Clapper & NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander on surveillance programs – Oct. 29, 2013 | What The Folly?!

  6. Pingback: Transcript: Rep. Jim Langevin’s Q&A with DNI James Clapper & NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander on surveillance programs – Oct. 29, 2013 | What The Folly?!

  7. Pingback: Transcript: Hearing Q&A with Rep. Adam Schiff on possible reforms to the NSA surveillance programs – Oct. 29, 2013 | What The Folly?!

  8. Pingback: Transcript: Rep. Mac Thornberry’s Q&A with DNI James Clapper & NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander on surveillance programs – Oct. 29, 2013 | What The Folly?!

  9. Pingback: Transcript: Hearing Q&A with Rep. Jan Schakowsky on possible reforms to the NSA surveillance programs – Oct. 29, 2013 | What The Folly?!

  10. Pingback: Transcript: Rep. Frank LoBiondo’s Q&A with DNI James Clapper & NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander on surveillance programs – Oct. 29, 2013 | What The Folly?!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.