Know Your Surveillance Programs

The NSA has four data collection programs.  Two collect “metadata,” and they are MAINWAY for phones and MARINA for the Internet.  The other two collect content, and they are NUCLEON for phone calls and PRISM for the Internet.

For more, see “U.S. surveillance architecture includes collection of revealing Internet, phone metadata,” Barton Gellman, WaPo

Nadler Walks It Back

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is walking back his contention made in a public hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller that he was told in a classified briefing that the NSA listens in on our phone conversations without a warrant from the FISA Court.

In the exchange, Nadler asks Mueller if they can listen in without a warrant, and Mueller says no.  Nadler asks if that is classified information, and Mueller says no.  Nadler then says that if Mueller’s answer isn’t classified, Nadler can then say that he was told the opposite in a classified briefing.  I’m not sure that’s correct.  Mueller may have been lying because he was put on the spot in a public hearing when asked by a Congressman who had opposite, classified information, just as happened to DNI James Clapper when questioned by Sen. Ron Wyden.  I think they think it’s okay to lie under those circumstances because if they told the truth, they’d be revealing classified info.  So they think they’re lying for national security reasons.

Nadler may have been told to back off or face getting into trouble for revealing classified info at a public hearing.  Note that he did something different from Wyden.  Nadler explicitly stated that he’d been told the opposite at a classified briefing.  Wyden simply asked the question if the government was collecting data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.  He didn’t argue with Clapper when Clapper denied it, but Clapper knew that Wyden knew the truth from his classified briefings.  Clapper knew that Wyden set him up to either lie or reveal classified information.

So now there’s an effort to discredit the CNET story about Nadler and warrantless eavesdropping, but I’m not convinced the story is wrong.  I’m more convinced pressure has been applied to Nadler to STFU.

They’re Not Getting Warrants!

It seems Edward Snowden wasn’t exaggerating when he said he could access the contents of anybody’s communications.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) says he learned during a classified briefing that the NSA isn’t getting warrants to listen to our phone calls, and by extension to reading our emails and texts.  He was told that low-level analysts can make that decision.

For more, see “NSA admits listening to U. S. phone calls without warrants,” Declan McCullagh, CNET News.

Note that Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo is questioning the accuracy of this story.  But Marshall seems to be relying on an unclassified briefing (he uses video from C-Span), whereas Nadler is referring to a classified briefing.

Shoot the Messenger

So the broad reaction in Congress, both Dem and GOP, to Edward Snowden’s leaks is not that we need less spying on us, it’s that we need less contractor access to classified info.

For more, see “A Promise of Changes For Access to Secrets,” David E. Sanger and Jeremy W. Peters, NYT

Shocked? Where Have You Been Since 2006?

If you’re shocked about Verizon’s turning phone records over to the NSA, where the hell have you been?

From a letter former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) sent to National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, NSA Director Keith Alexander, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on January 23, 2006:

“One element of the NSA‘s domestic spying program that has gotten too little attention is the government’s reportedly widespread use of data mining technology to analyze the communications of ordinary Americans. Today I am calling on the Director of National Intelligence, the Defense Secretary and the Director of the NSA to explain whether and how the government is using data mining technology, and what authority it claims for doing so.

Data mining is a new, unproven and intrusive technology in the counterterrorism context, and we need to know how it is being used, how effective it is in finding patterns of terrorist activity, and whether there are sufficient safeguards to protect the privacy of Americans. We can and must fight terrorism aggressively without infringing on the privacy of law-abiding Americans.”  Emphasis added.