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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 46,833

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The REAL News


"When dealing with terrorism, the consideration of civil and human rights are not applicable..."

Unlike some governments, the Egyptian government isn't afraid to tell it like it is:

The Egyptian Ministry of Interior, which oversees the police, announced that they would be issuing their officers live ammunition, with standing orders to shoot anyone who attempted to take over government buildings. A spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Defense, Ahmed Ali, told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the security forces would continue to use all means at their disposal to quell protests and unrest. "When dealing with terrorism, the consideration of civil and human rights are not applicable," he said.


"a frog placed in water that is brought to a boil...will make no attempt to escape"

"What to say, and not to say, to 'our overseers'"

When NSA analysts want to "task" new collections or search an existing database, they are required to fill out a form that includes their "targeting rationale." The rationale is provided for oversight by the Justice Department and the office of the Director of National Intelligence when NSA personnel use the powers that Congress gave them in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. This document tells NSA analysts how to explain their targeting decisions without giving "extraneous information" to "our FAA overseers."

The basic premise of this process is to memorialize why you the analyst have requested targeting. This rationale will be provided to our external FISA Amendment Act (FAA) overseers, the Department of Justice and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, for all FAA targeting.

While we do want to provide our FAA overseers with the information they need, we DO NOT want to give them any extraneous information.... This rationale can be no longer than one short sentence.

Your rationale MUST NOT contain any additional information including: probable cause-like information (i.e., proof of your analytic judgment), how you came to your analytic conclusions, any RAGTIME information, classification marking or selector information.


White House Tried To Interfere With Washington Post's Report, And To Change Quotes From NSA

White House Tried To Interfere With Washington Post's Report, And To Change Quotes From NSA

Among the many, many incredible revelations from the Washington Post report on the abuses by the NSA is a tidbit about an interview that the Post was able to do with the NSA's director of compliance, John DeLong, followed by the White House's attempt to completely whitewash the interview and block his quotes from being used, despite the Post being told otherwise initially:

The Obama administration referred all questions for this article to John DeLong, the NSA’s director of compliance, who answered questions freely in a 90-minute interview. DeLong and members of the NSA communications staff said he could be quoted “by name and title” on some of his answers after an unspecified internal review. The Post said it would not permit the editing of quotes. Two days later, White House and NSA spokesmen said that none of DeLong’s comments could be quoted on the record and sent instead a prepared statement in his name. The Post declines to accept the substitute language as quotations from DeLong.


Read that again. This is the same White House that has been saying that they want to be as transparent as possible and to rebuild trust. And yet, here they are trying to block the Post from using an interview -- an interview they suggested in the first place -- and then to replace it with a bland and bogus "statement."


Right Before Snowden Leaks, President Obama Fired Nearly All Members On Key Intelligence Advisory Bo

Right Before Snowden Leaks, President Obama Fired Nearly All Members On Key Intelligence Advisory Board

Remember last week's press conference, where President Obama insisted that he had already kicked off the process of a major review of the way we do intelligence and surveillance in this country -- and about how he was going to set up an "outside" review group to look all this over? The same review group that will be set up by and report to James Clapper (but, the White House assures us, not run by him)?

Right, so a few people pointed out that President Obama already has an independent group that's supposed to do that thing: called the President's Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB). There's just one tiny, tiny problem in all of this. It now appears that, back in May, just before all the Snowden stuff started coming out, it appears that the administration basically kicked nearly everyone off of the PIAB board. It went from 14 members down to just four. And those members were basically asked to leave:

“They kicked me off,” said former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.). “I was on it a long time under Bush and under Obama. They wanted to make some changes.”

“I don’t know anything about whether they’ve brought in new members. They thanked me and that’s about all I know,” added Hamilton, widely known for his service as vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

Philip Zelikow, who served as executive director of the 9/11 Commission and later as a top aide to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was also asked recently to step off the PIAB.

“I’ve resigned from the Board, one of ten of the fourteen earlier members who have done so,” Zelikow said via email. “Four of the earlier members have remained, pending a reconstitution of the Board at some point for the balance of the President’s second term. The White House website displays the current situation, pending that.”


Oh, And Let's Not Forget That The NSA Tried To 'Intercept' A Ton Of Phone Calls From Egypt

Oh, And Let's Not Forget That The NSA Tried To 'Intercept' A Ton Of Phone Calls From Egypt
from the not-just-about-us-persons dept

I know that one thing I've heard from a bunch of foreigners during the past few months concerning the debates over the NSA's surveillance programs is that they don't understand why everyone's so focused on the issue of "US persons," since that implies we really don't care at all about the fact that the NSA has no restrictions at all on spying on every communication from everyone else in the world. And, that's a valid point. Of course, if we're focusing on just the pure flat out law-breaking by the NSA, the US persons issue is important, because they're not allowed to do that. But, it shouldn't minimize the fact that if you're not a "US person" under the NSA's definition, you're totally fair game. And while we've already mentioned the whole "accidental" collection of a bunch of phone call metadata from Washington DC by the NSA, it's worth revisiting it as well in this context. Most of the coverage has just focused on the fact that the NSA collected so much data on calls coming out of DC:

In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans. A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a “large number” of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused the U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a “quality assurance” review that was not distributed to the NSA’s oversight staff.

Right, but if they did that "correctly" it would have meant info on a "large number" of calls from Egypt all would have been collected. And, given this information, it seems quite likely that once the "programming error" was "corrected" those Egyptian call info did start getting sucked up into the machine. Now, some in the US might not mind that, but I'd imagine that people in Egypt and around the globe outside of the US are probably looking at that and are not at all happy about it. The fact that an analyst can just plug in their entire country code and "intercept" calls without (it appears) any oversight (which, of course, would have caught the 202/20 error) seems ripe for massive abuse, which is unlikely to get recorded in any report.


SENATE RESOLUTION 400---Members CAN Declassify NSA Docs ANYTIME They Want---They Just Don't

Worthy of repeating today (are you listening DiFi?)

Senate intelligence panel could seek to declassify documents; it just doesn’t

Outspoken members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have said frequently that they wanted to warn the public about the National Security Agency’s sweeping collection of telephone records but the program’s highly classified nature prevented them from making public reference to the programs.

That, however, is not the full story. Buried in the pages of Senate Resolution 400, which established the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1976, is a provision that allows them to try. Across those nearly 40 years, it’s never been used.



Four decades without a single challenge being raised. That's rather odd (or obsequious, if you prefer), considering the provision was added with the intent of providing an adversarial avenue to prevent intelligence agencies from controlling the dialog. This addition was added as the Church Committee was replaced by the Senate Intelligence Committee:

Senators foresaw the likelihood of a conflict between the intelligence agencies and the legislative branch. The legislation that established the committee called for it to “provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States.”

As a part of this oversight, Section 8 of the resolution lays out a process by which a member of the Intelligence Committee may seek the declassification of information that he or she thinks is of public interest, even if the executive branch labels the material top secret.

“The select committee may, subject to the provisions of this section, disclose publicly any information in the possession of such committee after a determination by such committee that the public interest would be served by such disclosure,” the section reads.


XLNT! Wyden, Udall Statement on Reports of Compliance Violations Made Under NSA Collection Programs

Wyden, Udall Statement on Reports of Compliance Violations Made Under NSA Collection Programs
Friday, August 16, 2013

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) issued the following statement regarding reports that the NSA has violated rules intended to protect Americans' privacy thousands of times each year. Wyden and Udall are both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The executive branch has now confirmed that the 'rules, regulations and court-imposed standards for protecting the privacy of Americans' have been violated thousands of times each year. We have previously said that the violations of these laws and rules were more serious than had been acknowledged, and we believe Americans should know that this confirmation is just the tip of a larger iceberg.

While Senate rules prohibit us from confirming or denying some of the details in today's press reports, the American people have a right to know more details about of these violations. We hope that the executive branch will take steps to publicly provide more information as part of the honest, public debate of surveillance authorities that the Administration has said it is interested in having.

In particular, we believe the public deserves to know more about the violations of the secret court orders that have authorized the bulk collection of Americans' phone and email records under the USA PATRIOT Act. The public should also be told more about why the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has said that the executive branch's implementation of section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has circumvented the spirit of the law, particularly since the executive branch has declined to address this concern.

We appreciate the candor of the Chief Judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court regarding the Court's inability to independently verify statements made by the executive branch. We believe that the Court is not currently structured in a way that makes it an effective check on the power of the executive branch. This highlights the need for a robust and well-staffed public advocate who could participate in significant cases before the Court and evaluate and counter government assertions. Without such an advocate on the court, and without greater transparency regarding the Court's rulings, the checks and balances on executive branch authority enshrined in the Constitution cannot be adequately upheld.”


NSA Responds: You couldn't possibly understand it, and we're not about to explain it to you.

More Bullshit from an agency that's clearly unused to being questioned about anything it does.

The NSA has issued a statement in response to Barton Gellman's article in the Washington Post:

Regarding that FISC Court's decision that the NSA's data collection procedures violated Americans' Constitutional rights? Gosh, they didn't want to have to explain that one. But for what it's worth:

The FISC’s finding was with respect to a very specific and highly technical aspect of the National Security Agency’s 702 collection. Once the issue was identified and fully understood, it was reported immediately to the FISC and Congress. In consultation with the FISC, the Department of Justice, NSA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence worked to address the concerns identified by the FISC by strengthening the NSA minimization procedures, thereby enhancing privacy protections for U.S. persons. The FISC has continued to approve the collection as consistent with the statute and reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

It was "very specific and highly technical." In other words, you couldn't possibly understand it, and we're not about to explain it to you. Oh, and once the issue was identified and fully understood (no telling how many months or years that means), it was "reported immediately." Go back to your Facebook.

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