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A federal judge in Utah has ordered the National Security Agency (NSA) to provide documents and data to a group suing the government alleging "blanket" warrantless surveillance of Salt Lake-area residents during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
Rocky Anderson the Salt Lake City mayor at the time of the 2002 Olympics represents plaintiffs Mary Josephine Valdez, Howard Stephenson, Deeda Seed, Will Bagley and Thomas Nelson Huckin, who filed suit in 2015 in U.S. District Court for Utah in Salt Lake City.
On Wednesday, Judge Robert Shelby gave U.S. Department of Justice officials until March to make available the documents and other information.
In January, Shelby rejected an attempt by the Department of Justice to dismiss the case.
In late May, a declaration by former NSA official Thomas A. Drake, affirming the allegations, was forwarded by Anderson to Justice Department attorneys.
Drake's statement contradicted assertions by Michael Hayden, the former director of the NSA, that said neither the President's Surveillance Program (PSP) nor any other NSA intelligence-gathering activity was involved in indiscriminate and wholesale surveillance in Salt Lake City or other Olympic venues during the 2002 Winter Games.
"I have reviewed the declaration of Michael V. Hayden dated March 8, 2017," Drake's statement said. "As a result of personal knowledge I gained as a long-time contractor and then senior executive (1989-2008) of the NSA, I know the statements made by Hayden in that declaration are false or, if not literally false, substantially misleading."
The NSA has the capability to seize and store electronic communications passing through U.S. intercept centers, according to the statement from Drake.
After Sept. 11, 2001, "the NSA's new approach was that the president had the authority to override the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Bill of Rights, and the NSA worked under the authority of the president," Drake said. "The new mantra to intercepting intelligence was 'just get it' regardless of the law."
Additional information on the NSA's intelligence-gathering came to light in 2013 when Edward Snowden, a contractor working for the agency, revealed to the Guardian newspaper the scope of U.S. and British global surveillance programs.