Tag Archives: NSA

Surprise! NSA data will soon routinely be used for domestic policing that has nothing to do with terrorism

By Radley Balko – This basically formalizes what was already happening under the radar.

We’ve known for a couple of years now that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the IRS were getting information from the NSA.

Because that information was obtained without a warrant, the agencies were instructed to engage in “parallel construction” when explaining to courts and defense attorneys how the information had been obtained.

If you think parallel construction just sounds like a bureaucratically sterilized way of saying big stinking lie, well, you wouldn’t be alone.

It’s all another sobering reminder that any powers we grant to the federal government for the purpose of national security will inevitably be used just about everywhere else.

And extraordinary powers we grant government in wartime rarely go away once the war is over.

And, of course, the nifty thing for government agencies about a “war on terrorism” is that it’s a war that will never formally end. more> https://goo.gl/eZsFoY

The secret history of America’s cyber war


Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War, Author: Fred Kaplan.

By Fred Kaplan – Richard Clarke interrupted him. You’ve gone to the trouble of setting up this program, he said, and you’re looking for connections to just three organizations?

That’s all we have the authority to do, Chris Inglis [2] replied.

Moreover, if the metadata revealed that an American had called a suspected terrorist’s number, just 22 people in the entire NSA—20 line personnel and two supervisors—could request and examine more data about the phone number. At least one supervisor had to approve the request. And the authority to search the suspect’s records would expire after six months.

The group then asked about the program’s results: How many times had the NSA queried the database, how many times were terrorist plots disrupted as a result?

One of the officials had the numbers at hand. For all of 2012, the NSA queried the database for 288 phone numbers. As a result, it passed on 12 tips to the FBI, which had the legal authority to investigate much more deeply. How many of those tips led to the halting of a plot? The answer was zero. None of the tips had led to anything. more> http://goo.gl/A3s0yx

NSA Surveillance Programs Are a Cancer on the Constitution

By Patrick Eddington – June 1971 brought us the Pentagon Papers case, followed two years later with the Watergate hearings into the break in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

A generation later, another national security whistleblower—Edward Snowden—revealed in June 2013 a fresh series of government abuses of power in secret.

And now, with some of those abusive powers facing a June 1, 2015 expiration date, Congress faces another moment of truth: Will it act decisively to end unconstitutional executive branch overreach, as it did a generation ago?

… all of these actions make it appear that Congressional leaders are engaged in a process designed to conceal the U.S. intelligence community’s domestic spying transgressions rather than educate the public on them and their implications for our democracy. more> http://tinyurl.com/q49wbrh


How the NSA Made Your Legal Defense Illegal

By Ben O’Neill – In order for a plaintiff to challenge the constitutionality of the NSA’s illegal surveillance programs, the person first had to prove having been subjected to surveillance, in order to show that they have “standing” to bring the case.

But of course, the very nature of the program is that it is kept secret, and all evidence which would prove that the plaintiff lies within the scope of the program is “classified.”

To obtain this evidence, a plaintiff would have to access classified information, which would then lead them to legal dangers of another kind.

Hence, a wonderfully absurd situation has prevailed. more> http://tinyurl.com/mqejxzp


How international relations theory shapes U.S. cybersecurity doctrine

By Henry Farrell – The fundamental logic of the security dilemma is straightforward.

Imagine two neighboring states, each of which wants peace while not being sure of the other’s intentions. Imagine further that one of the states decides to build up its military (perhaps by increasing its army), solely in order to defend itself if the other state turns out to have malign intentions.

It may well be that the second state looks at the first state’s decision to increase the size of its army, and worries that the first state is beefing up its military so that it can invade. The second state may then decide, too, to build up its army.

This may, in turn alarm the first state, which begins to fear that the second state is indeed intent on invasion, leading the first state to introduce conscription. And this process may go on, …

The world of the Cold War was, for better or worse, partly built on the foundation of political science ideas. The same is true of the emerging world of cybersecurity. more> http://tinyurl.com/kaecx8s


Defeating NSA Surveillance Isn’t the Real Problem

By Max Eddy – The NSA wasn’t operating in a vacuum. Two key changes aided the creation of the massive spying operation we know today.

The first was the cost of search and storage, which Bruce Schneier said had dropped to the point where it was feasible to store and search huge amounts of data.

Second was a philosophical shift in both user behavior and technology companies. “We build systems that spy on people in exchange for services,” said Schneier. “Surveillance is the business model of the Internet.” more> http://tinyurl.com/m2qoqpf


Spy Chief James Clapper: We Can’t Stop Another Snowden

By Eli Lake – James Clapper also acknowledges that the very human nature of the bureaucracy he controls virtually insures that more mass disclosures are inevitable.

“In the end,” he says, “we will never ever be able to guarantee that there will not be an Edward Snowden or another Chelsea Manning because this is a large enterprise composed of human beings with all their idiosyncrasies.”

Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, concurs: “I do think he recognizes that we are in a new normal after Snowden where we can’t operate with the expectation where nothing will get out.” more> http://tinyurl.com/myp6jx3


Google, Facebook and other tech giants object to secret government arguments

By Brandon Bailey – It’s hard to win a debate when you don’t know what the other side is arguing, the tech companies said in their own filing this week at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a little-known division of the federal judiciary that frequently operates under a cone of silence while ruling on national security programs.

The government uses secrecy classifications “as a litigation tool,” complained Mark Rumold, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has sparred with the government on other cases but isn’t involved in this one.

Incomplete reports about the government’s surveillance efforts “undermine confidence in Internet services” that rely on “user trust,” said Google’s Richard Salgado in prepared testimony, who warned that those concerns may have financial consequences for U.S. tech companies and the global Internet economy. more> http://tinyurl.com/ko7nfbx


NSA’s Vast Surveillance Powers Extend Far Beyond Counterterrorism, Despite Misleading Government Claims

By Trevor Timm – Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, NSA is given a mandate for collecting “foreign intelligence information” but this is not a very substantive limitation, and certainly does not restrict the NSA to counterterrorism€”rather, it is defined to include “information with respect to a foreign power … that relates to … the conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States.”

Read that carefully for a minute. Anything “that relates to the foreign affairs of the United States.” Interpreted broadly, this can be political news, anything about economics, it doesn’t even have to involve a crime€” basically anything besides the weather. more> http://tinyurl.com/pzhguwq


Obama’s Credibility Is At Risk

By Charlie Cook – What makes these problems more troublesome than some other controversies is that they go to the question of Obama’s competence, rather than to differences of policy or ideology. Competence issues cut across the partisan and ideological spectrum, and they can have a real impact on independents and moderates.

The intelligence agencies acted because they can: They have the technological capability to listen in on Merkel’s calls or, for that matter, anyone else’s, and they have no specific orders to refrain from such activity. The possibility that the program could become public and create real problems in the U.S. relationship with one of our most trusted friends doesn’t appear to have been considered by whomever made this decision. more> http://tinyurl.com/mww7qfu