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NSA paying internet companies millions for PRISM
August 23, 2013 5:06 PM   Subscribe


 
Job creators!
posted by The Whelk at 5:08 PM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whoa, I think I finally figured out how to monetize my startup.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:09 PM on August 23, 2013 [24 favorites]


"The disclosure that taxpayers' money was used to cover the companies' compliance costs raises new questions over the relationship between Silicon Valley and the NSA."

You don't say.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:12 PM on August 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


As bad as each new revelation is, I just keep reminding myself "tip of the iceberg."
posted by nevercalm at 5:12 PM on August 23, 2013 [29 favorites]


Google ... added: "We await the US government's response to our petition to publish more national security request data, which will show that our compliance with American national security laws falls far short of the wild claims still being made in the press today."
[Emphasis mine.]

The subtext to that quote is boggling.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:14 PM on August 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


"We Can Observe It for You Wholesale"

Thank you, present dystopia, for providing me with a good title for the novel I hope to be the first one I actually finish writing.
posted by chambers at 5:16 PM on August 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


How do they keep this off their public earning statements?
posted by srboisvert at 5:16 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


"We've never heard of PRISM. We just thought those checks from the government were stimulus money."
posted by zachlipton at 5:19 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]




If the NSA only collects on US citizens "unwittingly", how was an analyst able to track a former spouse?

Tip of the iceberg.
posted by bigZLiLk at 5:26 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh that's nice, so they have carrots as well as sticks.
posted by happyroach at 5:26 PM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, if anyone is interested in exactly what a FOIA response for Prism phone records says, memail me. I have the response sitting right behind me, and I can scan or scan/OCR it if desired.
posted by Samizdata at 5:27 PM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


How do they keep this off their public earning statements?

Whatever NSA was paying, it's a rounding error to a giant internet company. Public financial statements just list broad categories. Payments like these would fit nicely into the "other revenues" category at Google or perhaps the "Online Services Division" category at Microsoft.
posted by zachlipton at 5:28 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It occurs to me we've even managed to fuck up dystopia here in the States. We've got all the hallmarks of it, omnipresent surveillance, a paralyzed and ineffective government system slowly dismantling what remains of the social contract, rule by large corporations, and a massive military-industrial complex but we didn't get any of the upsides like government-run health care or guaranteed food and housing.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:28 PM on August 23, 2013 [36 favorites]


The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program

Man, wording it like that doesn't even sound like that much money any more.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:36 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The UK Independent claims it has Snowden-provided information on Britain's GCHQ spying, but Snowden denies it.

The Independent doesn't quite claim that the info came from Snowden, although the piece is written in such a way as to leave that impression.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:37 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


As far as countering this if it continues as it likely will, aside from installing a crapload of things that may or may not work in linux with the speed a little bit better than dial-up there's another option (meshnets) still in it's alpha phase but up and running in some locations.

Also recently in the news Clapper,director of national intelligence who basically lied to congress about the NSA program spying on civilians, was chosen to pick the reform panel. The white house later would say that the director would not be selecting this panel. Now the white house is proposing a candidate for the panel that apparently co-authored a paper that suggested infiltrating and influencing online conspiracy theory websites.

Weird stuff.
posted by whorl at 5:38 PM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


As far as countering this if it continues as it likely will, aside from installing a crapload of things that may or may not work in linux with the speed a little bit better than dial-up there's another option (meshnets) still in it's alpha phase but up and running in some locations.

If you want access to anything outside of your mesh, the NSA will still be able to tap your communications.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:45 PM on August 23, 2013


I'd gladly sell them my metafilter password for 6.99$ + tax.
posted by cacofonie at 5:48 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I for one, think this NSA stuff is wildly overblown. Why are people upset unless they have something to hide?
posted by cacofonie at 5:50 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


One NSA analyst was disciplined years ago for tracking a former spouse

And yet General Alexander told Black Hat a couple weeks ago this (p. 11):
And we get all these allegations of what they could be doing [abuse]. But when people check, like the intelligence committee, they found zero times that's happened. That's no bullshit. Those are facts. (Applause.)
Those fancy toilets at Fort Meade apparently have very different bullshit detectors than I do.
posted by zachlipton at 5:50 PM on August 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


...can't tell if joking...
posted by desjardins at 5:50 PM on August 23, 2013


The Independent doesn't quite claim that the info came from Snowden, although the piece is written in such a way as to leave that impression.

Au contraire mon frère. The headline:
Exclusive: UK’s secret Mid-East internet surveillance base is revealed in Edward Snowden leaks
In the body:
The Independent is not revealing the precise location of the station but information on its activities was contained in the leaked documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden.
Unless I misunderstand your meaning, that's way more than implication; they're nailing themselves to that one.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:52 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's like this George. I leaked my secret Chili recipe to both the Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times. The Inquirer knows this, and so they write truthfully in their article never revealing their own source, "According to a Chili recipe leaked to The New York Times, 1.2 kilograms of MSG powder added to..."

They only claim the information was in the leaks, not that they got the information from him.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:56 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


But when people check, like the intelligence committee, they found zero times that's happened. That's no bullshit. Those are facts.

The Intelligence Committee didn't find that it happened because they were just briefed about it today. So he's right, from a certain point of view. [obi_wan.gif]
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:56 PM on August 23, 2013


Now the white house is proposing a candidate for the panel that apparently co-authored a paper that suggested infiltrating and influencing online conspiracy theory websites.

I for one, think this NSA stuff is wildly overblown. Why are people upset unless they have something to hide?

Guess they took him up on that.

Though I only think of MeFi in part as an "online conspiracy theory website".
posted by ryanshepard at 6:00 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


@George

...obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden. ....as provided to us by the GCHQ who confiscated the data.

Maybe they didn't finish the sentence.
posted by whorl at 6:02 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


George_Spiggot: read it really closely. The bits you quote tell us that the base "is revealed" in the Snowden documents and that information on its activities "was contained" in the Snowden docs. Nowhere in there is it directly stated that The Independent received the information from Snowden or even saw the leaked documents in question. They are simply reporting two independent (heh) facts: (1) the base exists; and (2) information about the base was revealed in the documents Snowden obtained and leaked.

The obvious implication is that 1 and 2 are related, but The Independent never outright says that. Those facts may have come from anywhere and both may not have come from the same source. Their follow-up statement didn't shed any additional light on the issue either.
posted by zachlipton at 6:03 PM on August 23, 2013




Let me fix that: ...obtained by the NSA by Edward Snowden. ....as provided to us by the GCHQ Metropolitan Police who confiscated the data.
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:09 PM on August 23, 2013


So basically, we actually got that controversial domestic spending on infrastructure to boost the economy and never knew it until now?
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:11 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let me fix that: ...obtained by the NSA by Edward Snowden. ....as provided to us by the GCHQ Metropolitan Police who confiscated the data.

The possibility of Russia being involved can't be discounted. My impression of Snowden is that he is careful enough not to give up what he has by mistake and principled enough not to trade it for freedom, but we can't be sure of that. There is a ton of tension between the US and Russia right now over middle east issues.

Alexander Yevgenievich Lebedev (Russian: Алекса́ндр Евге́ньевич Ле́бедев, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr jɪvˈɡʲenʲjɪvʲɪt͡ɕ ˈlʲebʲɪdʲɪf]; born 16 December 1959) is a Russian businessman, referred to as one of the Russian oligarchs.

In May 2008, he was listed by Forbes magazine as one of the richest Russians and as the 358th richest person in the world with an estimated fortune of $3.1 billion.[1] He is part owner of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta[2] and owner of four UK newspapers with son Evgeny Lebedev: the London Evening Standard, The Independent, the Independent on Sunday and the i newspaper.

posted by Drinky Die at 6:15 PM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


At this point. we've heard so many outright lied by the intelligence community in both the U.S. and U.K. that nothing they say has any credibility. And this include Cameron and Obama when speaking about this topic.

A priori, a paper like the Independent has some credibility, but Snowden has much more. At least Snowden chooses his words to clearly convey what he knows and does not know, such as the "It appears that" in :

"It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post's disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others."
posted by jeffburdges at 6:15 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]




@Mister Bijou
Fair point, but eventually where did the confiscated data end up? Probably with an intelligence agency such as the GCHQ.
posted by whorl at 6:17 PM on August 23, 2013


NSA analysts deliberately broke rules to spy on Americans, agency reveals

jeffburdges, that's linked in the OP
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:19 PM on August 23, 2013


NSA analysts deliberately broke rules to spy on Americans, agency reveals
"My life's an open book," people might say. "I've got nothing to hide." But now the government has large dossiers of everyone's activities, interests, reading habits, finances, and health. What if the government leaks the information to the public? What if the government mistakenly determines that based on your pattern of activities, you're likely to engage in a criminal act? What if it denies you the right to fly? What if the government thinks your financial transactions look odd—even if you've done nothing wrong—and freezes your accounts? What if the government doesn't protect your information with adequate security, and an identity thief obtains it and uses it to defraud you? Even if you have nothing to hide, the government can cause you a lot of harm.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:20 PM on August 23, 2013 [22 favorites]


We should not forget that the DEA and FBI lost all their credibility. Ideally, courts should stop accepting most evidence provided by these agencies.

Was DEA's Fake Claims Of Not Being Able To Intercept iMessages Part Of Evidence Laundering Efforts?
posted by jeffburdges at 6:20 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mr. Bijou, is there any reason to believe that any such data was actually obtained from Mr. Miranda in usable form? I wouldn't have thought Poitras would have handed him anything unencrypted and he's said he didn't have any keys or passphrases to give them.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:21 PM on August 23, 2013


More on NSA creeping from WSJ:
The practice isn’t frequent — one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it’s common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT.

The LOVEINT violations involved overseas communications, officials said, such as spying on a partner or spouse. In each instance, the employee was punished either with an administrative action or termination.

Most of the incidents, officials said, were self-reported. Such admissions can arise, for example, when an employee takes a polygraph tests as part of a renewal of a security clearance.
I'd like to know why we should believe their claims of strong oversight if these incidents are mainly self-reported.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:21 PM on August 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


Mr. Bijou, is there any reason to believe that any such data was actually obtained from Mr. Miranda in usable form? I wouldn't have thought Poitras would have handed him anything unencrypted and he's said he didn't have any keys or passphrases to give them.

LONDON, Aug 22 (Reuters) - British police said on Thursday that documents seized from the partner of a journalist, who has led coverage of Edward Snowden's leaks about U.S. and British electronic spying, were "highly sensitive" and, if disclosed, could put lives at risk.

posted by Drinky Die at 6:23 PM on August 23, 2013


Confessing under duress (polygraph test, threat of losing your job if the magic box says you're lying) is not the same as self-reporting. So even that feel-good hand-waving is bullshit.
posted by ctmf at 6:25 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mr. Bijou, is there any reason to believe that any such data was actually obtained from Mr. Miranda in usable form?

Look, what I was correcting was an inaccuracy. The data was not confiscated by GCHQ. What we do know is that all David Miranda's so-called 'electronic media' was seized by the Metropolitan Police when they detained him at Heathrow Airport. What the Met did with Miranda's stuff afterwards is a state secret.
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:27 PM on August 23, 2013


From the "I've got nothing to hide link" above:

In a campaign slogan for the program, the government declares: "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear."

That is supposed to reassure me? I find that slogan extremely chilling. Almost a threat in fact.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:31 PM on August 23, 2013 [22 favorites]


I'm wondering how much of the mission creep that the NSA currently indulges in is in fear of having certain operations defunded and by having a surplus of backup programs they can show that they've eliminated one program, only to have a background program that does much the same thing to bring in to replace it.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:32 PM on August 23, 2013


Another point regarding the "I've got nothing to hide" stance: Maybe you don't, but how about those running for seats in politics? Scenario: Close race between two candidates, each has something ugly in their past but only one is outed via a little birdie from the NSA. The NSA wields the potential to influence many events and as far as we know has much less oversight than other branches of government.

Also, turned around "if the government has nothing to fear, it has nothing to hide".
posted by whorl at 6:35 PM on August 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


The documents seized from Miranda need not be the source - the NSA could be fully aware of what's in the data Snowden has. If you're the NSA you can release your own copies of dangerously sensitive info from that data set through a media outlet, have them attribute it to him, and Snowden and/or his trusted press contacts seem dangerously irresponsible to the public. The media outlet need not be in on it if you can convince them you're Snowden contacting them.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:38 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program" the Guardian reveals

Two years ago, yes, to directly reimburse compliance businesses expenses. They've been doing this since 1994, under CALEA.

"Congress enacted the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) in October 1994 and authorized $500 million to reimburse telecommunications carriers (carriers) for certain eligible costs associated with implementing CALEA capability and capacity requirements to facilitate law enforcement's electronic surveillance."

This is not news, and not any kind of secret... unless, of course, you're ignorant of this part of the law and simply do not know any better. It's designed, in part, so that when sites like Slashdot, or LiveJournal, or Reddit or... comply with congressionally ordered policies that they cannot legally tell you about, they don't suffer financial hardship as a result.

(But hey, The Guardian would know this. Do you?!)

'In other NSA news, it seems that the NSA has deliberately been breaking rules preventing them from spying on Americans."

Wrong.

Rather, the 2011 document shows the government approached the FISA court for a routine re-authorization after finding out about the problem, and was told that though the program was constitutional overall, a small fraction of the content violated the Constitution and the way this section of the program was run was ordered to be changed.... and, in fact, it has been subsequently changed by the NSA, by technically limiting ways in which the data can be accessed and used.

Basically, while sucking up metadata for their program, they also captured a small fraction of email attachments from a few web email services where this information couldn't be separated from the metadata. Some of these attachments were from US citizens. The communications have since been destroyed, and the bulk of the information was never accessed or analyzed.

As soon as the extent of the problem became clear, the Obama administration provided classified briefings to both Senate and House intelligence committees within days. Officials also informed the FISA court, which later issued the three 2011 rulings released Wednesday. (It's also how Sen. Wyden was able to basically violate national security by using this top secret information to entrap James Clapper and potentially ruin his career. Clapper was caught in a catch-22, because legally, he could not tell the American public about this top secret program... so when Wyden forced James Clapper to answer yes or no as to whether the NSA collected information on US citizens and he said "No. Not wittingly"... he was, in fact, doing his best to tell the exact legal truth. The US *HAD* done so, but not wittingly, and had subsequently changed their policies to not do so. This also explains why Clapper subsequently said that it was reminiscent of being asked "do you still beat your wife?"

" One NSA analyst was disciplined years ago for tracking a former spouse."

And Iraq DID have weapons of mass destruction!*

* years ago

So.... next question?!
posted by markkraft at 6:41 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


the NSA could be fully aware of what's in the data Snowden has

The NSA, as far as we know, doesn't know what Snowden leaked.

(Of course, they could know, and are just not trumpeting that they do, for whatever reason.)
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:42 PM on August 23, 2013


"The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program" the Guardian reveals

Companies that had denied taking part in the Prism program.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:46 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Companies that had denied taking part in the Prism program."

From a business perspective, PRISM compliance falls under CALEA... a 1994 law which is presented to you, the business, as a secret court order to comply with US law.

This is why businesses have been pushing for this required secrecy to change. They'd like to actually be able to tell their customers the truth about what they do and why, so as to stop being blamed for obeying the law.
posted by markkraft at 6:53 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


On a sidenote, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger just published a diary of learning Chopin's first Ballade in the past year (with Wikileaks eating into his practice time)... Quite amusing review.
posted by yoHighness at 6:54 PM on August 23, 2013


We've seen RobotVoodooPower's NSA Officers Sometimes Spy on Love Interests link predicted all week. We only started seeing the TSA slapped down once it came out that officers occasionally masturbate to the nuddy scanners, so maybe this confirmation will bring the ire of American prudishness down upon the NSA.

We're still seeing "just the tip of the iceberg" however. What conjectures shall get confirmed next week? How about :

Creating Chilling Effects On Speech Is A Feature, Not A Bug, Of The Surveillance State

We've already seen Bruce Schneier's The Real Terrifying Reason Why British Authorities Detained David Miranda suggesting that the NSA and GCHQ are engaging in intimidation tactics, albeit less violently than intelligence agencies in Russia, Iran, etc. do.

What about intentional broader longer term intimidation? To what degree are they intentionally chilling free speech right at the core? Of activists, yes definitely. But how detailed a leak can we get on this? Can we learn if NSA or CIA info is ever used to discourage journalists form talking about topics like keystone that annoy the powerful? Just how evil are these people?
posted by jeffburdges at 6:58 PM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


More revelations (but not from Snowden), taken from the Bruce Schneier article above, on the collection of US internal communications.
posted by bigZLiLk at 7:13 PM on August 23, 2013


"We've already seen Bruce Schneier's The Real Terrifying Reason Why British Authorities Detained David Miranda suggesting that the NSA and GCHQ are engaging in intimidation tactics

Not likely in this particular circumstance.

The British Government has specifically said that they did not order the police in question to do this... and this is the kind of statement you would not make without the lawyers looking at it first, as they know that their entire government could collapse if this were found to be taking their orders from the NSA, by way of the White House.

At most, we might find a Becket-like scenario here, where plausibly deniable perceived desire is viewed as an order. But legally?! They've got nothing, almost assuredly.

The thing is, once the British airport cops were informed of this, they were more or less compelled to act in some fashion, weren't they?
posted by markkraft at 7:15 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NSA could fix a lot if they just showed that they were actually achieving something tangible when they arrested terrorists before or even after a terrorist event by just putting it out there and saying "look we saved you all, here's the guy and what he was planning on doing". They wouldn't need to give much insight as to how he was caught. As it is though I've read nothing on them catching anyone, but a lot on mistakes made. Perhaps someone here who is slightly on the side of defending them can share something along those lines.
posted by whorl at 7:18 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Once again the point is not what you have to hide, it's that you can't have anything to hide. All totalitarianism, both left and right, is built on actionable information as a tool of control and in the absence of same the total right of the state to define arbitrarily and secretly what is a crime.

"Relax it can't happen here" are right up there with "hold my beer and watch this" and "let's invade Russia in the winter" as famous last words.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:21 PM on August 23, 2013 [20 favorites]


srboisvert: "How do they keep this off their public earning statements?"

If they're not profiting from it, they can just POOF, erase it from the books. Or they can be all like... Arthur Anderson and such and Ken Lay and his protege and just run the black books on the back end (the same way the NSA has their own little special budget that's so wonderfully important we don't have a right know a damn thing about it).
posted by symbioid at 7:24 PM on August 23, 2013


I'll take Bruce Schneier's analysis, thank you very much, markkraft. Yes, Cameron and GCHQ pulled a "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?" Yet, I conjecture they'd more expectation of intimidating Greenwald by detaining his partner than Putin had that Anna Politkovskaya would be killed.

Also, the orders to destroy Guardian hard drives came directly from PM David Cameron, again a purely symbolic gesture that serves no real function except intimidation.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:28 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Just how evil are these people?"

Which ones? The NSA are only doing their best to follow orders from these people, who don't have the time to read and fully understand the thousands of pages of complex legalese that they vote for, much less its actual procedures.

Hanlon's Razor.
posted by markkraft at 7:28 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Yes, Cameron and GCHQ pulled a "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?""

As I mentioned, it would suffice to simply see to it that the report on Miranda going through their jurisdiction and what he was suspected of having with him was made available to the constables on patrol.
posted by markkraft at 7:30 PM on August 23, 2013


Wrong, the intelligence community first asks congress and the president for specific orders, like all departments within the executive branch, but unlike the others they then interprets congress' orders however they want.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:33 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NSA are only doing their best to follow orders from these people ...

For varying definitions of doing their best.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:34 PM on August 23, 2013


"that serves no real function except intimidation."

It served a function for Cameron's government, in that they would've adequately complied with any valid legal request from the US Government, pursuant to section blarg blarg of treaty blarg blarg blarg...

But sure, it was, by any other measure, a ridiculously meaningless act. Just following procedures...!
posted by markkraft at 7:34 PM on August 23, 2013




The British Government has specifically said that they did not order the police in question to do this... and this is the kind of statement you would not make without the lawyers looking at it first, as they know that their entire government could collapse if this were found to be taking their orders from the NSA, by way of the White House.

That is a lot of complex dot connecting.

Governments lie (occam's razor)
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:50 PM on August 23, 2013


I'm really impressed at how cheaply the NSA was able to do this. My faith in government workers is restored.
posted by Vhanudux at 8:00 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"We await the US government's response to our petition to publish more national security request data, which will show that our compliance with American national security laws falls far short of the wild claims still being made in the press today."

He OUTRIGHT LIED to us about his company's involvement with the NSA, why should we care what Google has to say about the matter?
posted by JHarris at 8:14 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Basically, while sucking up metadata for their program...

The whole idea of 'metadata' is a misdirection. There's only data. If I'm emailing my grandma, or my legislator, or an imam, that's none of the state's damn business. The fact that they don't actually read the contents ain't reassuring in the slightest.

For example, if I see you walk into Planned Parenthood, I don't need to know the details of what you and the staff discussed to know a hell of a lot more about your private business than decency allows.
posted by Nahum Tate at 8:37 PM on August 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


"The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program"

Would it make you feel better to hear that the internet companies were doing it for free?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:41 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, Duncan Campbell, one of the authors on the Independent article, is an investigative journalist with a history of exposing surveillance.

Also, the UK gov has till Tuesday night to explain why it needs to go through Miranda's electronics.
posted by whorl at 8:45 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's about time to get the typewriters down from the attic and refresh the ribbons.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:05 PM on August 23, 2013


a small fraction of the content violated the Constitution and the way this section of the program was run was ordered to be changed.

Aren't you the one who's been arguing for months that nothing the NSA has been doing was unconstitutional? Because this seems like a severe downplaying of how obviously wrong you were, and are.
posted by one_bean at 9:05 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


He OUTRIGHT LIED to us about his company's involvement with the NSA, why should we care what Google has to say about the matter?

Can you please elucidate?
posted by aspo at 9:09 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


markkraft: "Congress enacted the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) in October 1994 and authorized $500 million to reimburse telecommunications carriers (carriers) for certain eligible costs associated with implementing CALEA capability and capacity requirements to facilitate law enforcement's electronic surveillance."

That money was appropriated for CALEA, which has actual oversight, not for NSA's black ops spy programs.
posted by wierdo at 9:10 PM on August 23, 2013


At least the NSA is probably not paying for data with other data, yet. Imagine a national juggernaut that assesses what products you might buy for google with simultaneously assessing what crimes you could be entrapped into for the FBI and DEA. And it's all national security because occasionally the FBI invents a terrorist or a Afghani sells some opium poppies.

We've heard them describing other agencies as 'customers' though, so they've already partially abandoned the "information goes in but never comes out" rule that traditionally justifies intelligence agencies behavior. ChurchHatesTucker's link says “[The NSA has] increasingly become a culture of arrogance. They tell Congress what they want to tell them. Mike Rogers and Dianne Feinstein at the Intelligence Committees don’t know what they don’t know about the programs.” Ain't much stoping them from eventually taking corporate partners or even customers, except the outcry Snowden has brought down upon them.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:12 PM on August 23, 2013


The NSA wrongdoing revealed today is nothing to be concerned about. It is not as bad as the Snowden leaks suggested it would be. You misunderstood us when we said it didn't happen at all. The NSA wrongdoing that was leaked that has not yet been admitted does not at all occur. And if it does turn out we later confirm it to occur, it is not as bad as the NSA wrongdoing the Snowden leaks said occur. You misunderstood us when we said it does not occur at all. James Clapper will confirm this under oath.

Repeat as necessary.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:20 PM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can you please elucidate?

Reviewing my statement, it seems I shouldn't have said he, since Google is the source of the statements that were later revealed false. But it remains, even if the statement made was untrue for legal reasons, it is still untrue. With "National Security Letters" flying around requiring people to not speak out about the extent they've been forced to cooperate with these agencies, who knows what else Google has been made to say, or not?

Lying to the public for national security purposes... this really has to end.
posted by JHarris at 11:19 PM on August 23, 2013


"Cass Sunstein, a very close friend and confidant of the President... (smear, smear, smear.)

445supermag, in the interest of actual accuracy, let me point out provable, factual information about first your source, where he got his claims, and where those claims are either intentionally misleading or dead wrong.

Your source: Justin Raimondo, a self-described "conservative-paleo-libertarian" and supporter of Patrick Buchannan, who worked to pass anti-immigration legislation in California. He is also known for penning raciially-loaded antisemitic arguments.

Where he got his claims: They were pretty much copy & pasted with minor revisions from this article by Glenn Greenwald, who wrote a hit piece on him.

In the article, Greenwald repeatedly misrepresents Professor Cass Sunstein, a noted legal scholar and author, a longtime friend, collaborator, and collegue of Professor Lawrence Lessig, who considers him "America's foremost legal scholar", relying almost entirely upon a scholarly paper, where the professor discussed the relative merits of pretty much all possible responses that government could have in regards to conspiracy-based organizations that are judged to be on the verge of potentially violent extremism.

Greenwald wrote that Sunstein was"proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government.

What that Greenwald failed to say, however, is that while Sunstein wrote these as possible options, the "obvious answer is to maintain an open society".

Even on the idea of "infiltration", Sunstein's elaboration was far less controversial, as he, unlike Greenwald, did not fixate on strictly the most negative way that governments could infiltrate such groups:

"By this we do not mean 1960s-style infiltration with a view to surveillance and collecting information, possibly for use in future prosecutions. . . Government agents (and their allies)
might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to
undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises . . . government agents would openly proclaim, or at least make no effort to conceal, their institutional affiliations . . . and attempt toundermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action."

Greenwald's take on this?

That Sunstein is someone "who wants government agents to covertly mold political discussions"... which is pretty a pretty transparent misrepresentation of the facts, to anyone who actually read the paper.

Glenn Greenwald obviously did read the paper, so I can only suppose that his intent was to intentionally misrepresent Professor Sunstein on this matter. Given that Greenwald previously faced off against the professor on the relative merits of a vote reforming -- yet reauthorizing -- FISA courts -- and, in my opinion, losing the substance of the debate pretty convincingly -- I suspect it just reflects a pattern for the same kind of vindictive streak in Greenwald that journalist Jonathan Chait has previously noticed, who is a New Deal Democrat, but was mischaracterized by Greenwald as a "McCain worshiper" using similar dishonest techniques., I suspect this just reflects a certain character flaw on Greenwald's part.
posted by markkraft at 11:46 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Aren't you the one who's been arguing for months that nothing the NSA has been doing was unconstitutional?

Look... even the judge who raked the NSA over the coals a few years back when this whole metadata glitch was discovered reauthorized the program as a whole. (i.e. the program was still Constitutional, though an obscure, wonky section of its implementation was not, due to this metadata bug.)

These are complex pieces of software, with lots of processes and functions... and every function in that software -- buggy or not -- is basically being vetted for Constitutionality. Under the circumstances -- and given the absolute lack of constitutional oversight this software was given when it was developed during the Bush administration -- why would anyone be surprised that a glitch like this would pop up?

Frankly, what surprises me is the level and rapid nature of the response by the NSA and the White House to this. I am really kind of surprised they thought this worthy of immediately briefing the House and Senate on, as opposed to having it come up in a regular review.

Shit happens... but the NSA did their job, the Obama administration did their job, the FISA court did their job, Congress did their job, and the system of oversight worked.
posted by markkraft at 12:00 AM on August 24, 2013


Reviewing my statement, it seems I shouldn't have said he, since Google is the source of the statements that were later revealed false. But it remains, even if the statement made was untrue for legal reasons, it is still untrue. With "National Security Letters" flying around requiring people to not speak out about the extent they've been forced to cooperate with these agencies, who knows what else Google has been made to say, or not?
I think the question is: which statements were false? You haven't bothered to provide any statements, let alone justification that they were false.
posted by kdar at 12:06 AM on August 24, 2013


I guess violating constitutional rights is okay if we call it a "glitch."
posted by Drinky Die at 12:10 AM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I guess violating constitutional rights is okay if we call it a "glitch.""

Call it a bug. It's probably more accurate.

So... how many times a year do you think the police violate constitutional rights? Do you think they should be defunded?

Constitutionality matters, of course! ... but there is a difference between maliciously, intentionally, persistently trying to violate the Constitution, in direct opposition to what a judge says you must do, and an inadvertent incident.

Maybe I just make a distinction between the two, much like the judge did?
posted by markkraft at 12:15 AM on August 24, 2013


Call it a bug. It's probably more accurate.

I am going to call it a violation of the constitutional rights of American citizens, because that is most accurate and most important.

So... how many times a year do you think the police violate constitutional rights? Do you think they should be defunded?

The NSA are the police? Well the police officials lie under oath about their activities and nobody in charge cares to stop them. I would have to be intentionally dishonest to suggest I had even the slightest idea how often they violate constitutional rights, but the perjury is not a particularly positive sign.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:29 AM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do you think they should be defunded?

If they're a bunch of thugs, and I don't get erections thinking about how cool the mechanics of a fascist states are? Yes.
posted by maxwelton at 12:53 AM on August 24, 2013



Two years ago, yes, to directly reimburse compliance businesses expenses. They've been doing this since 1994, under CALEA.


This really doesn't make any sense. That money was for telco carriers to implement (voice) wiretap interception, and was later expanded to cover ISPs. It definitely doesn't cover service providers like Microsoft or Yahoo (indeed, it doesn't really cover ISPs; they had to shim that in via the FCC in 2004, even though the author of CALEA said that wasn't Congress's intent). The FBI wants to pass language that would grant put a similar mandate on web services, but so-called CALEA-II proposals have never passed Congress.

If money requisitioned for CALEA is being redirected to web service providers listed in PRISM that would be... very peculiar. Where are you getting the suggestion that this is taking place?


This is not news, and not any kind of secret... unless, of course, you're ignorant of this part of the law and simply do not know any better. It's designed, in part, so that when sites like Slashdot, or LiveJournal, or Reddit or... comply with congressionally ordered policies that they cannot legally tell you about, they don't suffer financial hardship as a result.


Are you suggesting that LiveJournal or individual web sites receive money under CALEA? I would say that would be extremely big news, and has been kept a secret from both Congress and the public for a long time.
posted by ntk at 1:00 AM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The NSA are the police?"

No. Though they both employ officers who swear an oath to defend the Constitution... and despite that, some of those officers blaintantly ignore proper procedures and the Constitution, violating your privacy and misusing your personal data, while others just make unfortunate mistakes, but, in doing so, give their institutions a bad name.

In point of fact, the Supreme Court has judged that police can violate your Constitutional rights through a mistake, and still not be forced to throw out a case against you. The standards for Constititionality and level of oversight for the NSA appear to be noticeably higher in these FISA court decisions than what your local police have to deal with.
posted by markkraft at 1:10 AM on August 24, 2013


Your source: Justin Raimondo, a self-described "conservative-paleo-libertarian" and supporter of Patrick Buchannan, who worked to pass anti-immigration legislation in California. He is also known for penning raciially-loaded antisemitic arguments.

Whether he's done that or not seems irrelevant to the matter at hand; indeed, this is one of the few issues where liberals and conservatives could rightfully see eye-to-eye, a textbook case of strange bedfellows. So whether Greenwald is smearing or not, you certainly are.

On Greenwald: it's been noted that there are things Greenwald says that even someone who agrees with him on the whole could find strident. But this sounds an awful lot like you're attacking the messenger.

I think the question is: which statements were false? You haven't bothered to provide any statements, let alone justification that they were false.

To this I was thinking about a statement in another thread, quoted by Nelson:

Google did not answer any of the specific questions put to it, and provided only a general statement denying it had joined Prism or any other surveillance program.

It was the "general statement" I was thinking about, but now that I look at it closer, the context of the quote is such that it could well be that Google was not lying (although they certainly are being evasive). In any case, I retract that statement, and this actually makes me feel a little better about Google. (They still killed Reader though, grrrr!)
posted by JHarris at 1:14 AM on August 24, 2013


"The NSA are the police?"

No.


I think we are pretty clearly talking past each other.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:16 AM on August 24, 2013


"That money was for telco carriers to implement (voice) wiretap interception, and was later expanded to cover ISPs. It definitely doesn't cover service providers like Microsoft or Yahoo (indeed, it doesn't really cover ISPs; they had to shim that in via the FCC in 2004... "

... and that's about where my firsthand knowledge of these things stops, though it is my assumption that if there were significant expenses to be born by these companies, that they would be compensated.

"If money requisitioned for CALEA is being redirected to web service providers listed in PRISM that would be... very peculiar. Where are you getting the suggestion that this is taking place? . . . Are you suggesting that LiveJournal or individual web sites receive money under CALEA?"

I would not say that. (But if I could, I could not say that.)
posted by markkraft at 1:19 AM on August 24, 2013


Markkraft, your reference to (and, I assume, agreement with) Jonathan Chait's characterization of Greenwald as an angry absolutist contains Chait's statement that "President Obama scaled back some of the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies — torture, warrantless wiretapping" and implication that absolutist Greenwald should be pleased with the progress. The warrantless wiretapping claim seems so precious now. I guess last month was a very long time ago for this story.
posted by Warren Terra at 1:33 AM on August 24, 2013


"Jonathan Chait's characterization of Greenwald as an angry absolutist contains Chait's statement that "President Obama scaled back some of the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies — torture, warrantless wiretapping"

Obama's DOJ did, in fact, implement restrictions on warrantless wiretapping.

This is a different program, of course... and it's not designed to wiretap the calls of innocent US citizens.
posted by markkraft at 1:49 AM on August 24, 2013


ntk, perhaps you can clarify this for me... you talk of my example sites, previously stated, as "individual web sites"... but if you were to check out, say, DMCA, I believe they are all categorized as "Internet Service Providers", at least as far as how the law is written. They're most certainly expected to comply with DMCA like Internet Service Providers.

So... when you say that the initial budget of CALEA "doesn't really cover ISPs; they had to shim that in via the FCC in 2004", well... what's an ISP? Are you certain that there's a difference between, say, FARK and Comcast, as defined by law?
posted by markkraft at 2:03 AM on August 24, 2013


and the system of oversight worked

Bullshit. We've thousands of violations they admit to, after first lying about. We've the FISC saying they cannot control the NSA, again with the NSA lying to them and ignoring their rulings. We've congress being repeatedly lied to be the NSA. etc.

At the core though, the NSA has violated the trust that intelligence gathering and national security differ so much from ordinary law enforcement that ordinary people really know they have nothing to fear if they have done nothing. And the DEA and FBI have destroyed their legitimacy as law enforcement via parallel construction.

The NSA exists because cryptography was a big secret during WWII. It makes sense to keep secrets around cryptography because, even if you cannot break anyone else's cyphers, you need differential cryptography experts to evaluate your own cyphers' strengths and weaknesses. But..

We should institute an Information-based Posse Comitatus Act that builds a wall of separation between the intelligence community and law enforcement. At the legal level, we might require that, if anyone even possessing a security clearance handled evidence, then that evidence becomes inadmissible in court, except when the accused also has a security clearance. So no clearances for anyone in the DEA, and the FBI should be split into two bodies.

We need this because the NSA's original largely mathematical mission actually still matters, otherwise we'd simply protect law enforcement's legitimacy by closing the NSA down.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:04 AM on August 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


@mark, man either it's late or you just don't make sense. (or both). it seems like you are playing devils advocate, and badly. you don't seem to address what people are actually trying to engage you with and go on to talk about something irrelevent both with drinky die and warren.
posted by whorl at 2:09 AM on August 24, 2013


I snarked at him our of context first, but yeah we just aren't connecting there. No big deal.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:19 AM on August 24, 2013


I will not, however, ever forgive the too short edit window.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:34 AM on August 24, 2013


but if you were to check out, say, DMCA, I believe they are all categorized as "Internet Service Providers

Terms like this are defined specifically in each law, and they're different definitions anyway in each of these laws. So, for the DMCA intermediary liability, which I think is what you're referring to, service provider is defined in 17 USC § 512 (k); for CALEA, the key term is "telecommunications carrier", which in the original law was pretty explicitly voice phone companies.The FCC had to really stretch to get it to cover broadband ISP providers.

There's been a huge, huge, policy fight in DC about expanding this kind of program to web sites (one which incidentally, I think is mostly on hold because of the NSA revelations).

I want to point out that you told everyone upthread that this was all perfectly obvious unless they were "ignorant of the law" and "simply didn't know any better"; it was actually my day job to fight this particular battle for five years. What you're saying doesn't make any sense to me, and the confusion about how definitions work in the two statutes doesn't really make me feel confident about your interpretation. The disconnect is so big I'm not sure I can continue the discussion. My offer to buy you a drink and chat about all this still stands, though.
posted by ntk at 2:48 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Terms like this are defined specifically in each law

*nods* That I understood clearly.

"and they're different definitions anyway in each of these laws."

When you mentioned "Internet Service Provider", I read that as the term I was most used to, and assumed that they had written or modified CALEA to use an inclusive term. (I especially assumed this, after hearing about Facebook.)

I'm glad the distinction was made in the law, though it doesn't surprise me one bit that they want to expand the program to web sites, however. But isn't it blurred already, if the NSA can get / compel sites like Facebook to help them implement PRISM to the NSA's liking?

(I would hope that Facebook wouldn't do the work for them, just because they're naturally friendly.... but if they were told something to the effect of "either we take it all, or you help us take just what we need", they might... especially if their costs were covered.)
posted by markkraft at 5:17 AM on August 24, 2013


I wonder why no one in the press is focusing on the companies like Google that receive payment from the NSA for helping set up PRISM, who had previously claimed (and apparently still claim) to have had nothing to do with PRISM.

Seems like Google executives telling a lie that big is news, but what do I know.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:07 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]




It's also how Sen. Wyden was able to basically violate national security by using this top secret information to entrap James Clapper.

The question was "Does the NSA collect any kind of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" The correct answer to this question is yes. The NSA collects call records of millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.

When this information is kept secret, the body politic can not exercise informed consent over the methods currently used to police it. If a national security program is incompatible with basic democratic concepts, what should change, our democracy or our policing methods?

Why couldn't Clapper have declined to answer the question? If Clapper's negative response was truthful, in what way was Wyden violating national security? Can you please tell me exactly how national security was imperiled by this question if Clapper admitted only to illegal but unwitting collection?

They've been doing this since 1994, under CALEA.

Your linked report says, "In passing CALEA, Congress was concerned that advances in telecommunications technology, such as cellular telephones and features such as call forwarding and multiparty calls, could limit the effectiveness of lawful electronic surveillance."

Are Google and Yahoo now "telecommunications carriers"? My understanding is that that is who the law applies to.

Given that Greenwald previously faced off against the professor on the relative merits of a vote reforming -- yet reauthorizing -- FISA courts -- and, in my opinion, losing the substance of the debate pretty convincingly

The 2008 FISA reauthorization "removes requirements for detailed descriptions of the nature of information or property targeted by the surveillance if the target is reasonably believed to be outside the country" and increases the time for warrantless surveillance from 48 hours to 7 days. That's via Wikipedia. Here's what the Congressional Research Service says:
In at least two important ways, the standard that must be met under §§ 703 and 704 before the FISC will issue an order authorizing an acquisition is less stringent than the standard that has been traditionally required under FISA.

First, FISA traditionally required an application to identify the facilities that will be searched or subject to electronic surveillance, and to demonstrate that those facilities are being used, or are about to be used, by the target. Second, FISA traditionally only permitted U.S. persons to be targeted if they are also linked to international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. Neither of these is required under §§ 703 or 704.
posted by compartment at 8:26 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


We should institute an Information-based Posse Comitatus Act that builds a wall of separation between the intelligence community and law enforcement.

We should also make possession of a security clearance a disqualification for civilian employment. We don't even need a law for that.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:33 AM on August 24, 2013


James Clapper lied to congress, period. Americans would've mostly let a refusal slide. So why didn't he refuse to answer? Because he's personally invested in the surveillance-industrial complex. He lied to congress for personal gain. He should go to jail. Also Wyden rocks!
posted by jeffburdges at 9:14 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Julian Assange's personal experiences with the Google-government ties are fairly shocking to me, and quite out of character with what would expect from Google in the past. Did you know Eric Schmidt wrote a book?
posted by Llama-Lime at 10:02 AM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well I guess this explains how MeFi is still only a one time $5 fee.
posted by humanfont at 10:50 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Assange's insights are occasionally beyond even Chomsky, always worth reading him.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:56 AM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]




"The 2008 FISA reauthorization "removes requirements for detailed descriptions of the nature of information or property targeted by the surveillance if the target is reasonably believed to be outside the country" and increases the time for warrantless surveillance from 48 hours to 7 days."

It also made FISA and the criminal wiretap laws the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance may be conducted, which was seen as the most important change by several legal scholars.

"The question was "Does the NSA collect any kind of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" The correct answer to this question is yes. The NSA collects call records of millions or hundreds of millions of Americans."

...and how do you answer that in a yes or no answer, as requested, without revealing the existence of a classified program that you have not been authorized to reveal?

This video explains the situation pretty well. Members of Congress have parliamentary immunity, which means that if, after being briefed on a classified program, a member of Congress essentially leaks the existence of that program to the congressional record, he has complete immunity.

Clapper, however, was caught in a pretty horrible, potentially career-ending position... one I don't think he really deserved to be put in. (Would've rather have seen the people who actually created the program face the firing squad.)

I understand those who are glad that Wyden asked the question, but still, on another level, it was a big F.U. / and act of political cowardice by Wyden.

"*I'm* not going to leak this information, but I will force you to do so... or else!"

It would've been a lot braver for Wyden just to tell the American public, rather than throwing someone who has spent his career in service to his country under the bus. The poor schmoe gets paid less than Snowden did, I'd bet!

"Why couldn't Clapper have declined to answer the question?"

See "Contempt of Congress". Go to jail, and have your career ruined.

Really, that was a worse choice for Clapper than leaking a classified program... which isn't a very good choice, especially if your entire career is based upon your intelligence clearance.

The question "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

... basically hinges upon a few things:

1> Whether they are currently doing so. That's pretty relevant, because Clapper said that the question was like "Do you still beat your wife?" The NSA did collect the data of millions of Americans... but does it still?
2> Whether such a program effects millions of Americans.
3> Whether we are talking about "at any one time" or "a program that, over the extent of its existence". Data isn't held forever. Only two years, I believe. And they were legally compelled to get rid of a lot of it, which might mean that millions of Americans data were not collected after they dumped that data.
4> Whether "collect" is viewed as "gathers and stores", as in a database, or "gathers together", as in "all the data flows to the NSA, where it is then filtered". And what if it is filtered at the source, so as to possibly not effect millions of Americans?

I theorize about all this, because when Clapper said "not wittingly", I'd like to know what he meant by that, because I would like to hope that he thought he had successfully threaded the needle.

When he said "There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect", it sounds a lot like he was talking about all those email attachments from US citizens. This, of course, is a intentionally narrow view of the big picture... but I think there are good reasons why the NSA absolutely would want to store as little of this data as possible themselves. But who's to say that some other U.S. agency doesn't actually oversee the storage of this data?

"Can you please tell me exactly how national security was imperiled by this question if Clapper admitted only to illegal but unwitting collection?

The knowledge that the NSA has a program that collects the data in the first place? That might be of some use, assuming you were a terrorist who wanted to avoid detection.

Note, though, that it wasn't my assertion that national security was imperiled by this revelation. Rather, I felt that the revelation was a fairly underhanded way for someone in Congress to reveal a classified program.
posted by markkraft at 2:16 PM on August 24, 2013


"NSA abuses include Stalking ex-Girlfriends"

See? They *are* a lot like the police! Or Neil Gaiman, even! Gotta love that human element.

This is, in significant part, why I trust the evil automated data mining mega-servers more than I trust people. That's where the NSA seems to be going, so... *shrug*

(Hm... someone should write a "Choose Your Own Dystopia" book.)
posted by markkraft at 2:25 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Saying the government has to lie about classified programs is a get out of jail free card for pretty much anything they classify. It's a nonsense position.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:41 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


markkraft, it wouldn't be contempt of Congress if he, as suggested above, requested a closed session in which to answer that particular question. Lying was not necessary, no matter how much you're invested in believing otherwise.
posted by wierdo at 2:54 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


So basically, we actually got that controversial domestic spending on infrastructure to boost the economy and never knew it until now?

Under a completely absurd definition of infrastructure, uh, sure.
posted by odinsdream at 2:55 PM on August 24, 2013


This is what annoys me the most about the "Security State," and I don't have a problem, fundamentally, with the NSA keeping a database of email and metadata, or whatever, and only searching for anti-terrorism and counter-espionage purposes with effective over-site. The problem is they are apparently doing more than this, are incompetent, and are secretly taking massive amounts of taxpayer money and passing it around to their friends to fund inefficient, wasteful, bogus "security" programs, when we could be using this money to fund education, basic research, infrastructure, blah, blah, blah.

I strongly recommend the latest Bill Moyers - The End Game for Democracy, America’s Gilded Capital. Washington has become a cesspool of fraud and corruption.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:31 PM on August 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Clapper spent a career in service to himself, like all high ranking officials. I've observed this amongst the slightly-less-than-geniuses in academia, so i've no doubt that even the full geniuses "in service of their country" are corrupt to the core. And no other explanation makes any sense in Clapper's case.

Yeah, he's not as well connected as Michael Chertoff, but he's corrupt just the same. Contempt is what he should face now, avoiding the question at that moment only makes sense as self-interest.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:46 PM on August 24, 2013


I accept that Clapper, Alexander, Chertoff, Cheney, etc. all believe in what they're doing. Goebbels required a retreat to convince himself what he was doing was right. Blair required less than one day over the Iraq war, well one immoral war is nothing like what Goebbels needed to sell himself on. All these American national security fuckers require only their promised future contractor paycheck because they're acting so incrementally. Yet, they're all still evil men trying to obstruct or reverse social progress. Yes, they're evil is incremental, but they keep it moving quite quickly. Harming their careers is a moral obligation.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:57 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's Left-wing prats who are defending our freedoms

n.b. this is not your typical Daily Telegraph column by Janet Daley.
posted by chavenet at 2:28 AM on August 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't have a problem, fundamentally, with the NSA keeping a database of email and metadata, or whatever, and only searching for anti-terrorism and counter-espionage purposes with effective over-site.

Other than this has thus far proven to be completely ineffectual?
posted by maxwelton at 3:17 AM on August 25, 2013


NSA hacked into encrypted UN communications
We knew this but apparently Der Spiegel updated the frequency of incursions.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:59 AM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


An Open Letter to My Former NSA Colleagues
Mathematicians, why are you not speaking out?


"I can only guess how much more horrified the ex-NSAers I know—you, my former colleagues, my friends, my professors, and my mentors—must be. Unlike me, you have spent much of your working lives helping the NSA build its power, only to see your years of work used in a way it was never supposed to be used. You could speak out now in a way that violates neither your secrecy agreement nor your honor. It's hard to believe that the professors I know at universities around the country would remain silent as the NSA abuses their trust and misuses their work."

Also, anyone developing spying software for NSA contractors risks unclassified versions of their software being sold to dictators anywhere in the world, potentially even unfriendly nations like Iran and Syria. Appelbaum's keynote Not my department at 29c3 touched on this.


As noted upthread, the NSA cannot know how many personnel engage in LOVEINT and BIZINT, given they cannot determine what Snowden took. You might wonder if Snowden was more clever about hiding his trail than your average love smitten analyst, but presumably NSA personnel engaging in BIZINT might obtain technical support from their client, take their time to do it extra carefully, or might simply sell information that came across their desk as part of their regular investigations.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:00 AM on August 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


As noted upthread, the NSA cannot know how many personnel engage in LOVEINT and BIZINT, given they cannot determine what Snowden took.

I'm not sure that necessarily follows. Everything that we've seen from Snowden have been powerpoints or other training material. That is very likely to be on different systems than the actual data. It may be that the NSA concentrated on controlling access to the data and not as much on the training material.
posted by nightwood at 9:48 AM on August 25, 2013


nightwood; given the shitty level of control shown to-date, it's unreasonable to think Snowden didn't have access to the actual data. That was, after all, his job.
posted by odinsdream at 1:16 PM on August 25, 2013


I can't believe the USA would piss in their own bed like this:
U.S. spy agency bugged U.N. headquarters
The U.S. National Security Agency has bugged the United Nations' New York headquarters, Germany's Der Spiegel weekly said on Sunday ...
Internal files also show the NSA spied on the EU legation in New York ...
According to the documents, the NSA runs a bugging programme in more than 80 embassies and consulates worldwide ....
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:57 PM on August 25, 2013


Well, I guess I can believe it, but I'm amazed at the stupidity of it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:57 PM on August 25, 2013


Idiots.
posted by odinsdream at 4:59 PM on August 25, 2013


[The 2008 FISA reauthorization] also made FISA and the criminal wiretap laws the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance may be conducted, which was seen as the most important change by several legal scholars.

Can we reasonably assume that the FISC authorized our eavesdropping on the UN, or was there some other legal basis for it?
posted by compartment at 8:01 PM on August 25, 2013


While we obsess over The Guardian's smashed hard drives, spies go to war on the cloud
... Yesterday, Amazon became the fourth major cloud storage provider to go dark in a week – with a sudden outage that killed its site and thousands that rely on its services. Other casualties of the curious cloud bursting include Google (both its main search page and services including Drive and Gmail), Microsoft (Outlook.com, its cloud email service was down for many users for days) and The New York Times.

And NASDAQ. Interesting.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:43 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]












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