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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
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Journal Archives

NSA Slide Tells Agents NOT To Worry About 'Incidental' Collection Of Info On Americans

Lesson 4: So you got a U.S. Person Information?

And then explains what to do about it. They're pretty clear that if you're directly targeting a US person, that's a problem (and it is, because that's illegal). If it's considered "inadvertent," then you also have to stop, write up an incident report and notify people. That sounds reasonable. But... then there's the "incidental" section. Here, incidental is described as:

You targeted a legitimate foreign entity and acquired information/communications to/from/about a U.S. Person in your results.

That doesn't seem particularly "incidental" to me. But, here's the kicker. While with all the other forms of collection the NSA is told to stop, when it's "incidental" they're told:

This does not constitute a USSID SP008 violation, so it does not have to be reported in the IG quarterly.

Note that the IG report is the one that was revealed, listing all of the abuses. Yet, here they seem to be indicating that these "incidental" collections of information (and note that it's not just "metadata" here, but full "communications" as well) aren't a real problem. They're told to "apply... minimization procedures" to limit the info on US persons, but we've already seen what a joke those minimization procedures can be.

As Gellman also notes in his report, it appears that the info collected "incidentally" here gets added to NSA databases and can be searched freely:

The NSA uses the term “incidental” when it sweeps up the records of an American while targeting a foreigner or a U.S. person who is believed to be involved in terrorism. Official guidelines for NSA personnel say that kind of incident, pervasive under current practices, “does not constitute a . . . violation” and “does not have to be reported” to the NSA inspector general for inclusion in quarterly reports to Congress.



Good News: ACLU Coordinating Ed Snowden's Defense

ACLU Coordinating Ed Snowden's Defense
from the good-news dept

While much in the press is focusing on the supposed squabble between Ed Snowden, his father and his father's lawyer, Glenn Greenwald points out the actual important news hidden as a random aside in some of the news reports: the ACLU is now coordinating Ed Snowden's legal defense in the US. The Huffington Post article, notes:

The Wall Street Journal reported that the ACLU is helping coordinate Snowden’s legal defense in the U.S.
The full WSJ article is behind a paywall, but it states:

The elder Mr. Snowden participated in the chat from the Washington, D.C., office of his attorney, Bruce Fein, and was connected to his son with the help of Ben Wizner, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, who is involved in coordinating Mr. Snowden's legal defense in the U.S.

As Greenwald notes, that's very good news. It also suggests that the claims that Snowden's legal efforts are somehow in the hands of Julian Assange are also not true.


Why secrecy may be impossible in the modern work culture

To Gen X, a job for life with the NSA was a probably-impossible dream — it’s what their parents told them to expect, but few of their number achieved. To Gen Y the idea of a job for life is ludicrous and/or impossible.

This means the NSA and their fellow swimmers in the acronym soup of the intelligence-industrial complex are increasingly reliant on nomadic contractor employees, and increasingly subject to staff churn. There is an emerging need to security-clear vast numbers of temporary/transient workers … and workers with no intrinsic sense of loyalty to the organization.


Repukes In Disarray

Several influential Republicans told us the party is actually in a worse place than it was Nov. 7, the day after the disastrous election. This is their case:

• The party is hurting itself even more with the very voters they need to start winning back: Hispanics, blacks, gays, women and swing voters of all stripes.

• The few Republicans who stood up and tried to move the party ahead were swatted into submission: Speaker John Boehner on fiscal matters and Sen. Marco Rubio on immigration are the poster boys for this.

• Republicans are all flirting with a fall that could see influential party voices threatening to default on the debt or shut down the government — and therefore ending all hopes of proving they are not insane when it comes to governance.


Hannity Getting DUMPED

Sean Hannity is set to be bounced from Cumulus, the second-biggest radio network in the United States, according to multiple reports on Thursday night.

Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have been involved in tense negotiations with Cumulus, which has around 40 stations nationwide, over new syndication deals. The Limbaugh negotiations have been especially public and bitter. In July, reports surfaced that Cumulus was intending to drop both hosts. But, on Thursday, Mediaite wrote that Hannity is likely to go, while Politico wrote that Limbaugh is likely to stay in "virtually" every market he had been on.

All of this intrigue was compounded by a very public intervention from Michael Savage, another right-wing radio host. Speaking on his show, Savage said that he thought he would take over from Hannity.

"I predict, right here, right now, that I, Michael Savage and the 'Savage Nation,' is going to take over 'The Sean Hannity Show' time slot by the end of the year," Savage said. "Look, his show is done, and it's sad...I am the heir apparent to afternoon drive on the East Coast and around America on Cumulus stations, which have the most powerful stations in the radio world."


The Government Now Admits There's an 'Area 51'

The Government Now Admits There's an 'Area 51'

Newly declassified documents, obtained by George Washington University's National Security Archive, appear to for the first time acknowledge the existence of Area 51. Hundreds of pages describe the genesis of the Nevada site that was home to the government's spy plane program for decades. The documents do not, however, mention aliens.

The project started humbly. In the pre-drone era about a decade after the end of World War II, President Eisenhower signed off on a project aimed at building a high-altitude, long-range, manned aircraft that could photograph remote targets. Working together, the Air Force and Lockheed developed a craft that could hold the high-resolution cameras required for the images, a craft that became the U-2. Why "U-2"?

They decided that they could not call the project aircraft a bomber, fighter, or transport plane, and they did not want anyone to know that the new plane was for reconnaissance, so Geary and Culbertson decided that it should come under the utility aircraft category. At the time, there were only two utility aircraft on the books, a U-1 and a U-3. told Culbertson that the Lockheed CL-282 was going to be known officially as the U-2.

The next step was to find a place from which the top-secret aircraft could be flown.

MORE pics & stuff:

The next step was to find a place from which the top-secret aircraft could be flown.

Priebus throws Romney under the bus: Policies were ‘racist’ and ‘horrific’

GOP CHIEF: Mitt Romney's 'Self-Deportation' Quote Was 'Racist' And 'Horrific'

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/reince-priebus-immigration-reform-rnc-steve-king-self-deportation-2013-8#ixzz2c8iRVed0

BOSTON — In condemning Rep. Steve King's incendiary comments on immigration, RNC chairman Reince Priebus swept in his party's presidential nominee, saying that talk of "self-deportation" was "horrific" and even "racist."

Mitt Romney repeatedly used the term during the Republican primary campaign to talk about how his immigration enforcement policies would lead to unauthorized immigrants leaving the U.S. of their own accord, rather than needing to be deported.

"Using the word 'self-deportation' — it's a horrific comment to make," Priebus said, in a forceful rebuke. "I don't think it has anything to do with our party. When someone makes those comments, obviously, it's racist."

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/reince-priebus-immigration-reform-rnc-steve-king-self-deportation-2013-8#ixzz2c8iN3VKL

The Chief Judge of Secret FISA Court Admits In Written Statement That It Cannot Properly Oversee NSA

It has been no secret that the FISA court has effectively operated as a rubber-stamping outfit for NSA surveillance programs. However, when the chief judge on that court, embarrassed by reports of NSA violations, admits that it really isn't intended to be an oversight entity?

Court: Ability to police U.S. spying program limited

The chief judge of the secret FISA court, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, has admitted in a written statement to The Washington Post that the court cannot properly oversee NSA surveillance.

Per The Washington Post:

The leader of the secret court that is supposed to provide critical oversight of the government’s vast spying programs said that its ability do so is limited and that it must trust the government to report when it improperly spies on Americans.

The chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said the court lacks the tools to independently verify how often the government’s surveillance breaks the court's rules that aim to protect Americans’ privacy. Without taking drastic steps, it also cannot check the veracity of the government’s assertions that the violations its staff members report are unintentional mistakes.

Said Walton:

The FISC is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court...The FISC does not have the capacity to investigate issues of noncompliance.


NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds

Source: Washington Post

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by law and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.


The May 2012 audit, intended for the agency’s top leaders, counts only incidents at NSA’s Fort Meade headquarters and other facilities in the Washington area. Three government officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters, said the number would be substantially higher if it included other NSA operating units and regional collection centers.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-broke-privacy-rules-thousands-of-times-per-year-audit-finds/2013/08/15/3310e554-05ca-11e3-a07f-49ddc7417125_story.html

The NSA turned its biggest spy program into a game—literally

As a wise woman said, “I try to be cynical, but you just can’t keep up”. Via the Daily Dot, der Spiegel brings us “Tales from the Land of Brothers Grimm” — the gamer version:

The NSA turned its biggest spy program into a game—literally

… According to internal NSA information, which SPIEGEL has seen, the agency’s European Cryptologic Center (ECC) is headquartered in Griesheim. A 2011 NSA report indicates that the ECC is responsible for the “largest analysis and productivity in Europe.” According to the report, results from the secret installation find their way into the President’s Daily Brief, the daily intelligence report given to US President Barack Obama, an average of twice a week….

The site in Hesse is also of interest for another reason: The controversial XKeyscore software appears to be in use there, as indicated by a 2012 internal NSA progress report. The report, with the odd title “Tales from the Land of Brothers Grimm” describes how successful the analysts have been in using the program. It is also enlightening because it shows that many NSA employees had a great deal of respect for XKeyscore. One analyst is quoted as saying that he always felt that he had one foot in prison when he was using the program, but that he began feeling more confident after going through training.….

To create additional motivation, the NSA incorporated various features from computer games into the program. For instance, analysts who were especially good at using XKeyscore could acquire “skilz” points and “unlock achievements.” The training units in Hesse were apparently successful. ECC analysts had achieved the “highest average of skilz points” compared with all other NSA departments participating in the training program….


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