The National Security Agency has denied it indiscriminately spied on spectators, athletes and others who attended the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002.
The denial came in a document filed last week in a U.S. District Court in Utah, where a group of Salt Lake City residents filed a complaint in 2015 alleging the U.S. government engaged “in widespread, indiscriminate communications surveillance, interception, and analysis, without warrants and without probable cause” during the Games that took place just months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
At issue, specifically, is how the President’s Surveillance Program, or PSP, was implemented during the Games. PSP made headlines after 2013 when the government admitted to collecting a type of information known as metadata “in bulk” following the publication of classified materials leaked by Edward Snowden.
In the court document, the NSA and other intelligence authorities “admit that the activities actually carried out under the PSP were conducted without warrant or court order or judicial findings of probable cause, but rather, under Presidential and statutory authority,” NSA attorney James Gilligan wrote in the filing on Friday.
He added, however, “To the extent the allegations of this paragraph exceed the scope of or are inconsistent with the foregoing admissions, they are denied, including, specifically, the allegation that the PSP involved ‘indiscriminate’ surveillance, interception, or analysis of communications.”
Gilligan wrote neither the PSP nor any other NSA intelligence activity “involved or ‘evolved’ into ‘blanket, indiscriminate … surveillance of the contents of every email and text message and the metadata of every telephone call’ sent or received in Salt Lake City, or the vicinity of Olympic venues, during the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games.”
Gilligan concluded the filing by asking the court to dismiss the complaint.
The NSA’s latest request for dismissal comes just a month after U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby refused to dismiss the complaint that was filed by former Salt Lake City Mayor Ross “Rocky” Anderson on behalf a bipartisan group of individuals. The individuals are not seeking monetary damages.
“Because the allegations in the [complaint] are not legal conclusions, bare assertions of the elements of standing, or sufficiently fantastic on their face as to defy reality, the law requires the court to accept them as true when evaluating the NSA’s Motion to Dismiss,” Shelby wrote in a court filing last month. “Though these allegations will undoubtedly be tested as this case proceeds, the court concludes at this early stage that the Plaintiffs have … plausibly alleged injury and redressability as required …”
(H/t: Fox 13)