Utah's Herbert: NSA Was Right to Monitor 2002 Olympics

Friday, 23 Aug 2013 01:27 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The National Security Agency was correct in monitoring the internet use and text messages of Utah residents during the 2002 Olympics, but needs oversight now to make sure it doesn’t overstep it’s bounds, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says.

"We need to remember it was post-September 11, just five months from this major attack inside our borders," the Republican told KUED-TV in Salt Lake City.

"So there probably was a tendency to make sure the public was safe during the Olympics because the Olympics had been targeted by terrorists in the past. So I cut them a little slack in that regard."

Sources told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday that the NSA monitored all emails and texts coming in and out of the Salt Lake City area around the time of the 2002 Olympics.

While Herbert was okay with the Olympics monitoring, he said reports of the NSA’s extensive monitoring of email and phone records over the years conjures up "Big Brother," the frightening figure from George Orwell’s nightmarish "Nineteen Eighty-Four."

"I think we're all concerned about Big Brother and the overreach we see the federal government in many levels. It's not just with our emails and surveillance and spy tactics," Herbert said.

Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, who was in office during the 2002 Olympics, told The Salt Lake Tribune he was unaware of a huge surveillance program that targeted the games at the time.

"I was not provided information on sources or methods of intelligence gathering activities by federal agencies during the Olympic Games," Leavitt said in an email.


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