Former Spy: U.S. Used Olympics to ‘Fine Tune’ Mass Surveillance

A former NSA official has alleged in court documents released Friday that the agency collected almost all electronic communications of people in or near Salt Lake City during the city’s 2002 Olympic Games. The former official, Thomas Drake, said the mass surveillance included emails and text messages, according to a court document cited by the Associated Press. “Officials in the NSA and FBI viewed the Salt Lake Olympics Field Op as a golden opportunity to bring together resources from both agencies to experiment with and fine tune a new scale of mass surveillance,” he wrote. Drake’s claims have been released in connection with a lawsuit filed against the agency by Rocky Anderson, who served as mayor of Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter Olympics. According to Anderson, Drake’s written allegations were submitted to the Justice Department on Wednesday. While the NSA has denied the claims and said surveillance was limited to international communications involving suspected terrorists, a judge turned down a Justice Department request to drop the lawsuit in January. The lawsuit seeks to get more information on a program described as covert and illegal by Robertson.