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Greenwald: Obama’s NSA oversight is ‘symbolic and empty’

Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper Monday, journalist Glenn Greenwald dismissed President Obama’s promises of strict oversight of surveillance programs within the National Security Agency.

“It’s totally false,” he said flatly, reminding Tapper that Senate Democrats who actually want to reveal elements of the surveillance program are constrained from talking about it or doing anything about it.

“So this oversight that they keep citing is impotent, it’s symbolic,” he insisted.

Greenwald added that FISA courts issued widespread warrants for surveillance that were often abused by the NSA.

“The NSA does not need individual warrants to listen in on the communications or read the emails of American citizens when they’re talking internationally to people overseas,” he continued. “They go once every six months to the FISA court — the FISA court rubber-stamps these vague guidelines that the NSA says they are using to make sure that they are complying with the law and once they happens, the NSA can force telecoms and Internet companies to give them whatever they demand under the guise that the FISA court has blessed their guidelines.”

Greenwald warned that there was no one specifically monitoring the NSA’s spying activities for abuse.

“It’s very symbolic and empty oversight,” he said, “They really ought not to give any assurances to anybody that these powers aren’t being abused.”