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From VOA LearningEnglish, this is In the News.
This week, a U.S. militaryjudgeruled in the case of ArmyPrivateBradleyManning. The soldier was of espionage for providingsecrets to the anti-secrecywebsiteWikiLeaks. The courtalsofoundhimguilty of severalothercharges. The punishment for thesecrimescouldaddup to morethan 100 years in prison. The Oklahomanative was found not guilty of the enemy. That chargecouldhaveresulted in a lifeprisonsentence.
Manning had admitted to what is called the largestleak of secret U.S. documents in history. The documentsincludedsecretdiplomaticmessages and militaryreportsabout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The case was tried at FortMeade, Maryland, close to the grounds of the NationalSecurityAgency. That is whereintelligencecontractorEdwardSnowdenonceworked. He secretdocuments on governmentefforts to collectinformationaboutAmericancitizens.
On Wednesday, members of Congressmetwithintelligence and lawenforcementofficials. The officialssaid the U.S. government’s informationgatheringdoes not violate the privacy of citizens. And theysaidtheseactivitieshelp to and defeatterroristthreats.
The officialsspokeafter the Obamaadministrationreleaseddocuments that described the government’s telephonedatacollectionprograms.
PatrickLeahy is chairman of the SenateJudiciaryCommittee.
“The patience of the Americanpeople is beginning to wearthin. But what has to be of more in a democracy is, the trust of the Americanpeople is wearingthin.”
On Wednesday, the administrationreleasedwhatonceweresecretdocumentsabout the government’s collection of telephonerecords. DeputyAttorneyGeneralJamesColespoke to the Senatecommittee.
“These are telephonerecordsmaintained by the phonecompanies. Theyinclude the number the call from, the number the call was dialed to, the date and time of the call and the length of the call. The recordsdo not include the names or otherpersonalidentifyinginformation. Theydo not includecellsite or otherlocationinformation, and theydo not include the content of anyphonecalls.”
The governmentmusthavespecialcourtapproval to getnames or addresseslinked to phonenumbers. It alsoneeds a courtorder to listen to phonecalls.
RhodeIslandSenatorSheldonWhitehousequestioned the lack of voluntarypublicdisclosure by the government.
“We have a lot of goodinformation out there that helps the Americanpublicunderstandtheseprograms. But it allcame out late. It allcame out in response to a leaker [EdwardSnowden]. There was no organizedplan for how we rationally this, so that the Americanpeoplecanparticipate in the debate.”
The AmericanCivilLibertiesUnion, an organization that supportsindividualrights, has criticized the government for collectingsomuchinformation. The groupsays this will change the waypeopleact and preventthem from enjoyingtheirfreedomsunder the U.S. Constitution.
The toplawyer for the Office of the Director of NationalIntelligence, RobertLitt, toldlawmakers he disagrees.
“Collection of this kind of telephonemetadata from the telephonecompanies is not a violation of anyone’s rights.”
Mr. Litttold the Senatecommittee that public of the programs has damaged the government’s ability to protect the nation.
And that’s In the News from VOA LearningEnglish. I’m SteveEmber.