If President Donald Trump really cares about government spying, he should reform the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance program, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden suggested on Tuesday.
Speaking by video link to The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, Snowden would not validate Trump's accusation that former President Barack Obama had "tapped" the wires at Trump Towers, but said the claim—which sent the White House backpedaling—shows Trump knows how serious mass surveillance is.
"If Donald Trump or anyone else wants us to take this seriously, they have to show evidence," Snowden said. "And the fact that they have not despite the severity of this allegation, means that they're trying to make political hay—I suspect—out of something that effects all of us, which is that mass surveillance is making all of us vulnerable."
If Donald Trump wants to take this seriously, he needs to fix the problem that everyone in America's communications are being collected right now, without a warrant, and they're going into the bucket, and they're protected by very lax internal policy regulations, and this simply is not enough.
The problem is not, 'Oh, you know, poor Donald Trump.' You're the president. You should be asking questions about, 'Why was this possible in the first place,' and, 'Why haven't I fixed it?'"
The Department of Justice (DOJ) this week asked for an extension to produce the wiretapping evidence after missing its Monday deadline with the House Intelligence Committee.
Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) hinted Tuesday that the panel could subpoena the DOJ if it failed to comply with the next due date.
"We have asked the department to provide us this information before the committee's open hearing scheduled for March 20. If the committee does not receive a response by then, the committee will ask for this information during the March 20 hearing and may resort to a compulsory process if our questions continue to go unanswered," he said.