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NSA officials deny mass surveillance during Utah Olympics

By The Associated Press  |  Posted Mar 20th, 2017 @ 5:26pm


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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Michael Hayden, the former CIA and National Security Agency director, has denied allegations by a former Salt Lake City mayor that the NSA conducted a mass warrantless surveillance program during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah.

In documents filed in Salt Lake City federal court last week, Hayden and current NSA operations director Wayne Murphy said the agency never conducted "blanket" surveillance in the capital or at other venues during the games.

Hayden was NSA director from 1999 to 2005,

The declarations, filed March 13 and first reported by KSTU-TV, respond to a lawsuit by Rocky Anderson, who was Salt Lake City mayor in 2002.

Anderson's lawsuit claims that the NSA collected the contents of text messages and emails as well as metadata about every phone call in the area before and during the games.

Anderson has said he learned about the program from a 2013 media report and confirmed it with a source he has declined to identify. He filed the lawsuit to learn more about what he calls covert, illegal operations.

Murphy said the NSA's surveillance program at the time was limited to international communications in which at least one participant was reasonably believed to be associated with foreign terrorist groups.

In January, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby refused an NSA request to dismiss the lawsuit. No trial date has been set.

The NSA has argued the lawsuit's claims are far-fetched speculation about a program that may never have existed. Government lawyers also said the 2015 lawsuit was filed too long after the games happened.

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