Robert Litt said that such policies ‘are not illegal’, but added that he wished that such a public conversation about their details had happened before whistle-blower Edward Snowden leaked the information, reports The Hill. Dismissing comments that the disclosures were a form of ‘whistle-blowing’ in a speech at the Brookings Institution, Mr Litt said that ‘all three branches of government knew about these programs, approved them, and helped to ensure that they complied with the law’.
Leaked data impact
Mr Litt went on to say that the ‘recent disclosures’ were responsible for bringing ‘into public view the details of sensitive operations that were previously discussed on a classified basis with the Congress.' The full repercussions of the leaks are yet to be known, he added. In his defence of the NSA measures Mr Litt addressed the ‘entirely understandable concern’ that the public may have over the government being in possession of people’s personal data as opposed to just internet or phone companies, but claimed that a court’s approval was needed before private data can be accessed by government officials. These ‘substantial safeguards’ allegedly ‘ensure that the rules are followed.’Mr Litt said that if the government does acquire this information from a third party it is not a violation of the rights of the Fourth Amendment.