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(72,080 posts)
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 07:32 PM Sep 2013

Dianne Feinstein Accidentally Confirms That NSA Tapped The Internet Backbone

Dianne Feinstein Accidentally Confirms That NSA Tapped The Internet Backbone

It's widely known that the NSA has taps connected to the various telco networks, thanks in large part to AT&T employee Mark Klein who blew the whistle on AT&T's secret NSA room in San Francisco. What was unclear was exactly what kind of access the NSA had. Various groups like the EFF and CDT have both been asking the administration to finally come clean, in the name of transparency, if they're tapping backbone networks to snarf up internet communications like email. So far, the administration has declined to elaborate. Back in August, when the FISA court declassified its ruling about NSA violations, the third footnote, though heavily redacted, did briefly discuss this "upstream" capability:

..............during Thursday's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Dianne Feinstein more or less admitted that they get emails via "upstream" collection methods. As you can see in the following clip, Feinstein interrupts a discussion to read a prepared "rebuttal" to a point being made, and in doing so clearly says that the NSA can get emails via upstream collections:

Upstream collection... occurs when NSA obtains internet communications, such as e-mails, from certain US companies that operate the Internet background, i.e., the companies that own and operate the domestic telecommunications lines over which internet traffic flows.

She clearly means "backbone"rather than "background." She's discussing this in an attempt to defend the NSA's "accidental" collection of information it shouldn't have had. But that point is not that important. Instead, the important point is that she's now admitted what most people suspected, but which the administration has totally avoided admitting for many, many years since the revelations made by Mark Klein.

So, despite years of trying to deny that the NSA can collect email and other communications directly from the backbone (rather than from the internet companies themselves), Feinstein appears to have finally let the cat out of the bag, perhaps without realizing it.

38 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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Dianne Feinstein Accidentally Confirms That NSA Tapped The Internet Backbone (Original Post) kpete Sep 2013 OP
HE WAS NEVER THE NOMINEE! rhett o rick Sep 2013 #1
*lol* Hydra Sep 2013 #3
So nice that you provide your own trolling and distractions. Bolo Boffin Sep 2013 #5
I dont know what came over me. nm rhett o rick Sep 2013 #6
"We do NOT have a Domestic Spying Program!" bvar22 Sep 2013 #7
Wellll I guess it all hinges on the definition of "not". nm rhett o rick Sep 2013 #18
Beat me to it. WilliamPitt Sep 2013 #17
... Enthusiast Sep 2013 #32
Silence was their best weapon on this Hydra Sep 2013 #2
history 90-percent Sep 2013 #4
History belongs to the victors. riderinthestorm Sep 2013 #8
The problem they have is that they never will make whistle-blowers extinct. rhett o rick Sep 2013 #20
Maybe statues quakerboy Sep 2013 #9
Kicked and recommended. Uncle Joe Sep 2013 #10
Is the Internet 'background' made of 'tubes'?... n/t PoliticAverse Sep 2013 #11
KNR. DirkGently Sep 2013 #12
Opps. Rex Sep 2013 #13
Well why not admit it? zeemike Sep 2013 #14
I think we are close to a terrible tipping point. I think the NSA is at some point going rhett o rick Sep 2013 #21
And you could be right. zeemike Sep 2013 #29
They dont really have to have anything on Pres Obama. They just have to explain to rhett o rick Sep 2013 #31
When asked what surprised him most when he became president, tblue37 Sep 2013 #38
NATHAN HALE formercia Sep 2013 #15
So, I googled "Internet Background" PowerToThePeople Sep 2013 #16
You have to look behind the pictures to see what's really going on... n/t PoliticAverse Sep 2013 #22
So is this stuff still classified? Conium Sep 2013 #19
From the name Prism, it was pretty clear that's what was happening mythology Sep 2013 #23
Bookmarking. n/t myrna minx Sep 2013 #24
I can do selective quotes, too! jazzimov Sep 2013 #25
It's almost to the point where I say 'Why bother?' randome Sep 2013 #27
"Upstream from the backbone" is venacular for the NSA taps into CALEA-compliant switches. leveymg Sep 2013 #26
Deja DU: This information was on DU a long time ago. We have known this all along. Coyotl Sep 2013 #28
Dianne Feinstein has no more idea than a two-year-old about what goes on with the internet. JDPriestly Sep 2013 #30
That's why the NSA is so pleased she's Chair of the Committee. leveymg Sep 2013 #34
Blah blah blah. Didja hear about Kanye? progressoid Sep 2013 #33
Leaks are Espionage! kenny blankenship Sep 2013 #35
I bet we will find "pole dancing" in her past. Not that there is anything wrong with that. nm rhett o rick Sep 2013 #36
Proof the NSA is not good WovenGems Sep 2013 #37


(14,459 posts)
2. Silence was their best weapon on this
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 07:44 PM
Sep 2013

Once it went public in a way that couldn't be stifled, it was over. The more they talk, the more we know...mostly because they never planned to have to defend against this. They just did it and assumed they could keep doing it forever, even as they have been using the "secret evidence" or parallel intel to put people in jail.

"We're just too cool to be questioned..."


(6,838 posts)
4. history
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 08:06 PM
Sep 2013

Fifty years from now, there will probably be statues of heroic patriot Mark Klein peppered about the USA. Klein, you may remember, revealed the NSA's secret room in San Francisco and the man that helped trigger the dismantling of the overblown police state apparatus that had been under construction for many years prior. We honor a patriot that steered America back to check and balance Democracy.

-90% Jimmy



(23,272 posts)
8. History belongs to the victors.
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 08:25 PM
Sep 2013

I wish I agreed with you that the whistle blowers will some day be recognized as heroes but I doubt it. The current trend is to intimidate, jail, and hunt them down to extinction. With the big money in politics and big Corp control over politics growing by the hour, there's no way imho, that whistle blowers will ever get the statues...


rhett o rick

(55,981 posts)
20. The problem they have is that they never will make whistle-blowers extinct.
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 09:16 PM
Sep 2013

There will always those that are willing to give up their freedom for the freedom of the rest.


(13,928 posts)
9. Maybe statues
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 08:32 PM
Sep 2013

But the guys in charge of actually doing this stuff will be the next generation of Kissengers, to be consulted in the halls of power no matter how bad what they have done may be.


(18,998 posts)
14. Well why not admit it?
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 08:54 PM
Sep 2013

I mean we are so distracted with threats of war and economic suicide who will say anything?

And once it is said it becomes old news and then becomes acceptable to democrats and republicans alike...because there is a law or something that says if you don't complain when it happens they you have to STFU about it.

The source of the term is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, The New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush (later attributed to Karl Rove[1]):

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study


rhett o rick

(55,981 posts)
21. I think we are close to a terrible tipping point. I think the NSA is at some point going
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 09:19 PM
Sep 2013

to say, "yes we spy, and there is nothing you can do about it." I think Pres Obama has already been given that message.


(18,998 posts)
29. And you could be right.
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 10:18 PM
Sep 2013

or even past the tipping point...for all we know.
If Obama has any dirt in his past they probably know about it...so he will do what they tell him to.

It is like the Zappa saying, that they will maintain the illusion as long as it is profitable to do so...then they lift the curtain.


rhett o rick

(55,981 posts)
31. They dont really have to have anything on Pres Obama. They just have to explain to
Sat Sep 28, 2013, 02:21 AM
Sep 2013

him that he has no power to alter their programs or personnel.

I agree with Zappa.


(65,630 posts)
38. When asked what surprised him most when he became president,
Sat Sep 28, 2013, 05:48 PM
Sep 2013

Jimmy Carter said it was how little power the president really has.


(18,479 posts)
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 09:02 PM
Sep 2013


JUNE 6, 1755
SEPTEMBER 22, 1776



(9,610 posts)
16. So, I googled "Internet Background"
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 09:07 PM
Sep 2013

I just got a bunch of cool pictures.

What gives?

edit - it appears to be Google's 15th Birthday today. At least the "doodle" says so.

edit - got a 146 as my high score


(119 posts)
19. So is this stuff still classified?
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 09:15 PM
Sep 2013

Or is Sen. Feinstein declassifying U.S. spy secrets "on the fly" like former vice president Dick Cheney?



(9,527 posts)
23. From the name Prism, it was pretty clear that's what was happening
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 09:24 PM
Sep 2013

Prisms split light signals which is what was set up in the room in AT&T in San Francisco. The NSA set up a fiber optic splitter so they could get a carbon copy of the data being sent through AT&T as a Tier 1 internet service provider. There are several others of these Tier 1 ISPs and they sell to Google, Microsoft, etc and to the local ISPs like Comcast or whoever, who then sell to us.

To tap the internet, it's a lot easier to go to the handful of Tier 1 ISPs and install fiber optic splitters than it is to bother with National Security Letters or creating backdoors in software.

Director of Intelligence James Clapper should absolutely be fired, arrested and convicted for going to Congress and saying that the government didn't have this capability.


(1,456 posts)
25. I can do selective quotes, too!
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 09:51 PM
Sep 2013

First of all, upstream collection by the NSA is a well-known fact.

Secondly, Mark Klein revelations was about programs that happened under BUSH in 2006, and helped lead to the investigation by Congress and the new law passed by congress in 2008

The conclusion of DiFi's statement from YOUR second link:

This bundling is done by Internet companies in order to make it easier to send information quickly over the telecom lines that make up the Internet. Unfortunately, NSA’s technical systems could not easily separate the individual messages within these bundles. And the result was that NSA collected some e-mail messages it did not intend to acquire.

OK. We held a lengthy hearing on the court’s ruling on October 20, 2011, at which General Alexander and Lisa Monaco — then the assistant attorney general for national security — described the court’s ruling and what they were doing to address it.

Here’s my point: It was a mistake. Action was taken immediately to correct it. It came to us. We took action
- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/09/27/whoa-whoa-whoa-stop-dianne-feinstein-misstates-the-2011-violations/#more-38428

Granted the OPINION piece then goes to say that "immediate" is laughable, because the incident happened in 2008 - under BUSH.

The real issue here is that the problem was FIXED before Snowden's "revelations".


(34,845 posts)
27. It's almost to the point where I say 'Why bother?'
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 10:04 PM
Sep 2013

In any issue like this, the very first thing that should cross the mind of someone who is objective is: 'How can I be wrong about this?'

The same way you fully test a software app by trying your damnedest to break it.

Unfortunately, too many see and hear what they want on the first reading and don't take those extra steps to fine-tune their conclusions.
[hr][font color="blue"][center]Stop looking for heroes. BE one.[/center][/font][hr]


(36,418 posts)
26. "Upstream from the backbone" is venacular for the NSA taps into CALEA-compliant switches.
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 10:02 PM
Sep 2013

Virtually every network switch and router installed by US telcos and ISPs must have the capability of being tapped (signal recorded or diverted to a "trusted third-party&quot since that 1995 Act was passed.

That's how the NSA does it. The answer is hiding in plain sight.



(15,262 posts)
28. Deja DU: This information was on DU a long time ago. We have known this all along.
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 10:10 PM
Sep 2013
Been going on for a very long time:

Are ALL COMMUNICATIONS routed overseas to circumvent US law and the Constitution?

I was told years ago that ALL fiber optic communication traffic was routed overseas so that "everything" was moved outside the protections of the law and Constitution and ANYTHING could be monitored. I thought the idea quite fantastic even though it came from a very reliable source that would know exactly such things. Then, the story of the fiber optic splitters hit my radar. I now see now how easily exactly that, routing ALL COMMUNICATIONS overseas, was accomplished.

Is that Bush's and the Telecom's HUGE crime hidden and covered-up behind this story?

If the telecoms get immunity, will it aid in covering up Bush's crime.
ABSOLUTELY! That is why it is so important to the Rs! Support = obstruction of justice.

Have we arrived at the point in the history of the Bushco junta where
laws passed and people nominated are part of crimes of obstructing justice?



(57,936 posts)
30. Dianne Feinstein has no more idea than a two-year-old about what goes on with the internet.
Sat Sep 28, 2013, 12:07 AM
Sep 2013

It's just magic to her. That is what I think.


(776 posts)
37. Proof the NSA is not good
Sat Sep 28, 2013, 02:42 PM
Sep 2013

I have perfected time travel and am selling one way tickets. Now where be those dreaded men in black? See? Write what you will.

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