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America's Spying: Worse Than You Think

One is a series of updates about your country.

"For a quarter of a century, the rules were followed and the NSA stayed out of trouble, but following the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration decided to illegally bypass the court and began its program of warrantless wiretapping," James Bamford reports in the New York Review of Books.

"'Basically all rules were thrown out the window and they would use any excuse to justify a waiver to spy on Americans,' I was told by Adrienne J. Kinne, who in 2001 was a twenty-four-year-old voice intercept operator who conducted some of the eavesdropping. She or her superiors did not have to get a warrant for each interception.

"It was incredibly uncomfortable to be listening to private personal conversations of Americans," she said. "And it's almost like going through and stumbling and finding somebody's diary and reading it."

"All during this time, however, the Bush administration was telling the American public the opposite: that a warrant was obtained whenever an American was targeted. 'Anytime you hear the United States government talking about a wiretap, it requires - a wiretap requires a court order,' President George W. Bush told a crowd in 2004. 'Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so.' After exposure of the operation by The New York Times in 2005, however, rather than strengthen the controls governing the NSA's spying, Congress instead voted to weaken them, largely by codifying into the amendment to FISA what had previously been illegal.

"At the same time, rather than calling for prosecution of the telecom officials for their role in illegally cooperating in the eavesdropping program, or at least a clear public accounting, Congress simply granted them immunity not only from prosecution but also from civil suits. Thus, for nearly a century, telecom companies have been allowed to violate the privacy of millions of Americans with impunity."

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"With the arrival of the Obama administration, the NSA's powers continued to expand at the same time that administration officials and the NSA continued to deceive the American public on the extent of the spying. In addition to the denial I have mentioned by James Clapper, General Keith Alexander, the NSA director, also blatantly denied that his agency was keeping records on millions of Americans.

"In March 2012, Wired magazine published a cover story I wrote on the new one-million-square-foot NSA data center being built in Bluffdale, Utah. In the article, I interviewed William Binney, a former high-ranking NSA official who was largely responsible for automating the agency's worldwide eavesdropping network. He quit the agency in 2001 in protest after he saw the system designed mainly for intelligence about foreign threats turned inward on the American public. In the interview, he told how the agency was tapping into the country's communications and Internet networks. He revealed that it also was secretly obtaining warrantless access to billions of phone records of Americans, including those of both AT&T and Verizon. 'They're storing everything they gather,' he said.

"In the months afterward, General Alexander repeatedly denied Binney's charges. "No . . . we don't hold data on US citizens," he told Fox News, and at an Aspen Institute conference he said, 'To think we're collecting on every US person . . . that would be against the law.' He added, 'The fact is we're a foreign intelligence agency.'"

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"Snowden's documents and statements add greatly to an understanding of just how the NSA goes about conducting its eavesdropping and data-mining programs, and just how deceptive the NSA and the Obama administration have been in describing the agency's activities to the American public. In a video interview conducted in his room in the Mira Hotel, Snowden elaborated on the extent of the NSA's capabilities. 'Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector, anywhere,' he said.

"Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president, if I had a personal e-mail [address]."

"What Snowden was discussing was the way in which analysts at the NSA can place such things as names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses on target lists, thus causing communications containing those 'selectors' to be intercepted. He seemed to be indicating - although this remains to be officially confirmed - that while under FISA, a court order would be required to enter an American on a target list, analysts have the capability to unilaterally bypass the procedure by simply listing a name or e-mail address on the target list."

*

"In the end, both UPSTREAM and PRISM may be only the tips of a much larger system. Another new document released by Snowden says that on New Year's Eve, 2012, SHELLTRUMPET, a metadata program targeting international communications, had just 'processed its One Trillionth metadata record.' Started five years ago, it noted that half of that trillion was added in 2012. It also noted that two more new programs, MOONLIGHTPATH and SPINNERET, 'are planned to be added by September 2013.'"

*

The Guardian: XKeyscore: NSA Tool Collects 'Nearly Everything A User Does On The internet.'

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PBS NewsHour: NSA Collects 'Word for Word' Every Domestic Communication, Says Former Analyst.

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You Are Not Allowed To Know What Information The NSA Has Collected About You.

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Mediaite's Josh Feldman: Greenwald And NYT's James Risen Completely Deflate Jeffrey Toobin's Tortured Logic On NSA, Snowden.

RISEN: "We wouldn't be having this discussion if it wasn't for him. Why do you think - I mean, that's the thing I don't understand about the climate in Washington these days, is that people want to have debates on television elsewhere, but then you want to throw the people who start the debates in jail."

*

From Rahm Emanuel's right-hand man:

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From Glenn Greenwald:

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See also Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden Made The Right Call When He Fled The U.S.

*

Are America's Secretive Ways Destroying Its Relationship With Europe?

*

Eight Foreign Countries Battling NSA Backlash.

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U.S. Spying Endangers Democracy, German President Says.

Says Snowden "deserves respect."

*

What The NSA Wants In Brazil.

*

"The US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ over the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain's intelligence gathering programmes," the Guardian reports.

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Previously:
* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

* FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

* NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

* Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

* The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

* Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

* ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on August 2, 2013


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