More Revelations About NSA Spying

More Revelations About NSA Spying

Posted by on August 18, 2013                                       /   Comments Off

    Category: NSA   Tags: , ,

nsa bldgnsa bldgsage:  The NSA has been revealed so much lately as having a huge global spiderweb of information mining and more and more is being brought out.  Story 1 is a great summary of what has been happening;  Story 2 shows how the NSA is blaming their employees for a lot of it, and; Story 3 just proves that they made it very lucrative for companies to assist their shenanigans. 

Story 1 – You Won’t BELIEVE What’s Going On with Government Spying on Americans

By George Washington, ZeroHedge – August 17, 2013

Revelations about the breathtaking scope of government spying are coming so fast that it’s time for an updated roundup:

Just weeks after NSA boss Alexander said that a review of NSA spying found not even one violation, the Washington Post published an internal NSA audit showing that the agency has broken its own rules thousands of times each year

2 Senators on the intelligence committee said the violations revealed in the Post article were just the “tip of the iceberg”

Glenn Greenwald notes: “One key to the WashPost story: the reports are internal, NSA audits, which means high likelihood of both under-counting & white-washing”.(Even so, the White House tried to do damage control by retroactively changing on-the-record quotes)

The government is spying on essentially everything we do. It is not just “metadata” … although that is enough to destroy your privacy

The government has adopted a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act which allows it to pretend that “everything” is relevant … so it spies on everyone

NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA collects all of our conversations word-for-word

It’s not just the NSA … Many other agencies, like the FBI and IRS – concerned only with domestic issues – spy on Americans as well

The information gained through spying is shared with federal, state and local agencies, and they are using that information to prosecute petty crimes such as drugs and taxes. The agencies are instructed to intentionally “launder” the information gained through spying, i.e. to pretend that they got the information in a more legitimate way … and to hide that from defense attorneys and judges

Top counter-terror experts say that the government’s mass spying doesn’t keep us safe

Indeed, they say that mass spying actually hurts U.S. counter-terror efforts.

They say we can, instead, keep everyone safe without violating the Constitution … more cheaply and efficiently than the current system

There is no real oversight by Congress, the courts, or the executive branch of government. And see this and this.

Indeed, most Congress members have no idea what the NSA is doing. Even staunch defenders of the NSA now say they’ve been kept in the dark

A Federal judge who was on the secret spying court for 3 years says that it’s a kangaroo court

Even the current judges on the secret spying court now admit that they’re out of the loop and powerless to exercise real oversight

A former U.S. president says that the spying program shows that we no longer have a functioning democracy

The chairs of the 9/11 Commission say that NSA spying has gone way too far

Top constitutional experts say that Obama and Bush are worse than Nixon … and the Stasi East Germans

While the government initially claimed that mass surveillance on Americans prevented more than 50 terror attacks, the NSA’s deputy director John Inglis walked that position back all the way to saying that – at the most – one (1) plot might have been disrupted by the bulk phone records collection alone. In other words, the NSA can’t prove that stopped any terror attacks. The government greatly exaggerated an alleged recent terror plot for political purposes (and promoted the fearmongering of serial liars). The argument that recent terror warnings show that NSA spying is necessary is so weak that American counter-terrorism experts have slammed it as “crazy pants”

Even President Obama admits that you’re much less likely to be killed by terrorists than a car accident. So the government has resorted to lamer and lamer excuses to try to justify mass surveillance

Experts say that the spying program is illegal, and is exactly the kind of thing which King George imposed on the American colonists … which led to the Revolutionary War

The top counter-terrorism Czar under Clinton and Bush says that revealing NSA spying programs does not harm national security

The feds are considering prosecuting the owner of a private email company – who shut down his business rather than turning over records to the NSA – for refusing to fork over the information and keep quiet. This is a little like trying to throw someone in jail because he’s died and is no longer paying taxes

Whistleblowers on illegal spying have no “legal” way to get the information out

There are indications that the government isn’t just passively gathering the information … but is actively using it for mischievous purposes

Spying started before 9/11 … and various excuses have been used to spy on Americans over the years

Governments and big corporations are doing everything they can to destroy anonymity

Mass spying creates an easy mark for hackers. Indeed, the Pentagon now sees the collection of “big data” as a “national security threat” … but the NSA is the biggest data collector on the planet, and thus provides a tempting mother lode of information for foreign hackers

Mass surveillance by the NSA directly harms internet companies, Silicon Valley, California … and the entire U.S. economy. And see these reports from Boingboing and the Guardian

IT and security professionals are quite concerned about government spying

Some people make a lot of money off of mass spying. But the government isn’t using the spying program to stop the worst types of lawlessness

Polls show that the public doesn’t believe the NSA … and thinks that the government has gone way too far in the name of terrorism

While leaker Edward Snowden is treated as a traitor by the fatcats and elites, he is considered a hero by the American public

Congress members are getting an earful from their constituents about mass surveillance

The heads of the intelligence services have repeatedly been caught lying about spying. And even liberal publications are starting to say that Obama has been intentionally lying about spying

Only 11% of Americans trust Obama to actually do anything to rein in spying

A huge majority of Americans wants the director of intelligence – Clapper – prosecuted for perjury

While the Obama administration is spying on everyone in the country – it is at the same time the most secretive administration ever (background). That’s despite Obama saying he’s running the most transparent administration ever

A Congressman noted that – even if a mass surveillance program is started for good purposes – it will inevitably turn into a witch hunt

Surveillance can be used to frame you if someone in government happens to take a dislike to you

Government spying has always focused on crushing dissent … not on keeping us safe

An NSA whistleblower says that the NSA is spying on – and blackmailing – top government officials and military officers (and see this)

High-level US government officials have warned for 40 years that mass surveillance would lead to tyranny in America

A top NSA whistleblower says that the only way to fix things is to fire all of the corrupt government officials who let it happen. As the polls above show, the American public is starting to wake up to that fact

 nsa fencensa fenceStory 2 – NSA Blames 3,000 Leaked Privacy Violations on ‘Employee Mistakes’

Russia Today – August 17, 2013

Nearly 3,000 violations of Americans’ privacy, mentioned in the National Security Agency’s internal audit recently leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden, weren’t “willful” and are results of mistakes by employees, the agency claimed.

The NSA’s director of compliance, John DeLong, has held a conference call with reporters Friday as the agency has made the most direct effort to counter concern over its spying activities since its classified documents began appearing in the press.

“NSA has a zero tolerance policy for willful misconduct,” DeLong is cited as saying by the Wall Street Journal. “None of the incidents that were in the document released were willful.”

However, he admitted that there was “a couple” of willful privacy violations during the past 10 years, but didn’t provide any details of those incidents.

According to DeLong, the NSA had about a 0.0005 percent error rate, with roughly 100 mistakes out of 20 million queries a month.

“No one at NSA thinks a mistake is OK, but those kinds of reports are designed and generated to make sure we understand when mistakes occur,” DeLong said.

The explanations followed the publication of Snowden-leaked NSA’s internal audit report on privacy violations in The Washington Post on Thursday.

That document analyzed the different types of violations of policy or law for the year ended March 2012. The majority of the 2,776 breaches came from cases when the NSA continued monitoring foreigners through their cellphone use after they already left the United States.

The audit report said such violations were “largely unpreventable,” attributing the wave of “roamer” incidents to an increase in Chinese citizens visiting their American friends for Chinese New Year celebrations.

The document also speaks of one episode of mishandling telephone data as the NSA found out of more than 3,000 records being retained past their five-year expiration date.

DeLong claimed that the call records were deleted right after they were discovered, and that they hadn’t been reviewed by the agency’s analysts.

Another “significant incident,” mentioned in the audit, occurred when an individual remained under surveillance even after obtaining a US Green Card, without the NSA having an individualized warrant to continue its spying activities on the person.

Improper granting of access to a sensitive database was also among the breaches documented in the internal audit.

The Washington Post reported a separate problem, when the NSA said that it had collected data on a “large number” of phone numbers in Washington DC because the system was incorrectly set to the 202 area code instead of the 20 country code, which is Egypt.

Another document the paper published revealed a serious constitutional violation by the agency as it established a collection program for ‘Multiple Communications Transactions,’ which was deemed “deficient on statutory and constitutional grounds” by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

NSA’s director of compliance said that he couldn’t describe the scope of that violation on the issue, but once again repeated that it “wasn’t willful.” The collection later resumed under new court-approved procedures, he added.

Answering The Washington Post’s complaint that the audit hadn’t been made available to Congress, DeLong said the NSA provided this type of data to lawmakers and agencies with oversight responsibilities.

Despite this specific document being designed for internal use, its results were incorporated into other reports provided to US lawmakers, DeLong said.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, overseeing the surveillance programs, said it “has never identified an instance in which the NSA has intentionally abused its authority to conduct surveillance for inappropriate purposes.”

But the some congressmen believe they aren’t getting enough information on the NSA activities, demanding a public debate on the surveillance programs.

“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,” Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall said in a joint statement.

In a White House statement Friday, deputy press spokesman Josh Earnest insisted that the violations didn’t reflect intentional law-breaking by the NSA, and that the detailed report showed that the agency was pro-actively monitoring its own work.

“The documents demonstrate that the NSA is monitoring, detecting, addressing and reporting compliance incidents. We have been keeping the Congress appropriately informed of compliance issues as they arise,” he said.

US President Barack Obama also fended off attacks on the surveillance programs conducted by the NSA during a press conference earlier this month.

“What you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and listening on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading peoples’ emails,” Obama said. “What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused. The part of the reason they aren’t abused is because these checks are in place. And those abuses would be against the law.”

But leaked audit report is bringing the US president’s claims into doubt that Americans’ privacy rights were safeguarded and violations by the NSA were only a possibility.

verizon1verizon1Story 3 – Verizon Rewarded for Records Release With $10 Billion Government Contract

By Joe Wolverton, The New American – August 17, 2013

Verizon’s willingness to give the federal government unfettered access to its customers’ phone records is paying off handsomely for the telecommunications giant.

Verizon announced on August 16:

The U.S. Department of the Interior has selected Verizon to participate in a $10 billion, 10-year contract to provide cloud and hosting services. This is potentially one of Verizon’s largest federal cloud contracts to date.

Verizon is one of 10 companies that will compete to offer cloud-based storage, secure file transfer, virtual machine, and database, Web, and development and test environment hosting services. The company is also one of four selected to offer SAP application hosting services.

Each of the 10 agreements awarded under the Foundation Cloud Hosting Services contract has a potential maximum value of $1 billion.

Put simply, not only has Verizon not suffered a loss of customers since revelations of its collusion with the National Security Agency’s dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans’ phone records, but now the company is being paid billions for its cooperation.

The press release issued by Verizon boasts of its buddy-buddy relationship with departments of the federal government.

“Verizon has a history of successfully providing advanced networking and security solutions to the Department of the Interior,” said Susan Zeleniak, senior vice president, public sector markets, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “The Foundation Cloud Hosting Services contract represents an expansion of Verizon’s engagement with the department and will enable it to leverage Verizon’s significant cloud investments and expertise to help the department achieve its long-term objectives.”

Verizon’s participation in the construction of the Panopticon is well known.

According to a court order labeled “TOP SECRET,” federal judge Roger Vinson ordered Verizon to turn over the phone records of millions of its U.S. customers to the National Security Agency (NSA).

The order, issued in April by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and leaked on the Internet by the Guardian (U.K.), compels Verizon to provide these records on an “ongoing daily basis” to hand over to the domestic spy agency “an electronic copy” of “all call detail records created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”

This information includes the phone numbers involved, the electronic identity of the device, the calling card numbers (if any) used in making the calls, and the time and duration of the call.

In other words, if you are a Verizon customer, your detailed phone records secretly have been handed over — and will continue to be handed over — to NSA agents.

This wholesale dragnet of personal electronic communication data proves beyond dispute that the Obama administration is keeping millions of Americans under constant surveillance regardless of whether the targets are suspected of committing crimes.

In other words, millions of innocent Americans have had their call records shared with a federal spy agency in open and hostile defiance of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” and “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

What is reasonable? Legally speaking, “the term reasonable is a generic and relative one and applies to that which is appropriate for a particular situation.”

Even if the reasonableness threshold is crossed, though, there must be a warrant and suspicion of commission or intent to commit a crime. Neither the NSA nor Verizon has asserted that even one of the millions whose phone records were seized fits that description.

Again, the government has made no attempt to demonstrate that any of those whose phone records have been seized are suspected of committing some crime. It is a plain and simple violation of the Fourth Amendment in the hope of finding something that one day might be found to qualify as suspicious. That is putting the cart of culpability before the horse of the Constitution, and it should not be abided by the American people.

How far are the citizens of this Republic willing to let the federal surveillance apparatus go toward constructing a Panopticon? At this accelerated rate of construction, how long until every call, every text, every e-mail, every online message, and every movement fall under the all-seeing eye of federal overlords?

When contacted by The New American, a spokesman for Verizon declined to comment on his company’s compliance with the order.

Such a demur is expected in light of the provision of the order which prohibits Verizon, the FBI, or the NSA from revealing to the public — including the Verizon customers whose phone records now belong to the Obama administration — that the data is being given to the government.

Glen Greenwald of the Guardian (U.K.) details the data being seized by the NSA:

The information is classed as “metadata”, or transactional information, rather than communications, and so does not require individual warrants to access. The document also specifies that such “metadata” is not limited to the aforementioned items. A 2005 court ruling judged that cell site location data — the nearest cell tower a phone was connected to — was also transactional data, and so could potentially fall under the scope of the order.

While the order itself does not include either the contents of messages or the personal information of the subscriber of any particular cell number, its collection would allow the NSA to build easily a comprehensive picture of who any individual contacted, how and when, and possibly from where, retrospectively.

Greenwald’s accurate analysis raises a couple of very important questions.

First, why would agents of the federal government willingly violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution by seizing phone logs of millions of innocent Americans?

As quoted by Greenwald, the Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez remarked, “We’ve certainly seen the government increasingly strain the bounds of ‘relevance’ to collect large numbers of records at once — everyone at one or two degrees of separation from a target — but vacuuming all metadata up indiscriminately would be an extraordinary repudiation of any pretence [sic] of constraint or particularized suspicion.”

Can anyone doubt that?

Readers should recall that as required by provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments of 2008 (FISA) and the Patriot Act (as amended in 2005), the Department of Justice revealed to Congress in April the number of applications for eavesdropping received and rejected by the FISA court.

To no one’s surprise (least of all to the architects and builders of the already sprawling surveillance state), the letter addressed to Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reports that in 2012, of the 1,789 requests made by the government to monitor the electronic communications of citizens, not a single one was rejected.

That’s right. The court, established specifically to judge the merits of applications by the government to spy on citizens, gave a green light to every government request for surveillance.

Not content to be a mere formality for electronic surveillance, the FISA court (officially called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) also held the coats of the FBI while that agency carried out the searches and seizures set out in 212 applications.

Perhaps the most disturbing take-away from the leak of this secret court document ordering Verizon to hand over customer call logs and other data to a federal surveillance agency is the fact that the government considers the protections of the Fourth Amendment to be nothing more than a “parchment barrier” that is easily torn through. The Obama administration regards the Constitution — as did the Bush administration before it — as advisory at best.

Far from running scared from repercussions from its betrayal of customers’ privacy and constitutional protections of the right of people to be free from unwarranted searches and seizures, Verizon’s August 16 statement demonstrates the sort of brazen boasts that are the prerogative of those under the protections of government.