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NSA Chief Denies Claims of Domestic Spying

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the doubleplus-ungood dept.

Government 149

AstroPhilosopher writes "Recently Wired, USA Today and other news outlets reported on a new spy center being built to store intercepted communications (even American citizens'). Tuesday, Gen. Keith Alexander testified in front of Congress refuting the articles. Alexander even went so far as to claim the NSA lacks the authority to monitor American citizens. It's an authority that was given to the NSA through the FISA Amendments Act signed into law by Bush and still supported today by Obama."

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Loophole (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39427849)

Alexander even went so far as to claim the NSA lacks the authority to monitor American citizens

That's where the UKUSA agreement comes into play.

Godwin. (5, Insightful)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39427953)

When you lie, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”. — Adolf Hitler

Re:Godwin. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428411)

Indeed.

Also, the free market works and is the solution to all our ills.

Re:Godwin. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39429003)

Actually Goebbels not Hitler.

Re:Godwin. (5, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429291)

'When Goebbels says something clever, pretend you said it' - Adolf Hitler.

Re:Godwin. (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429541)

"When Herr Goebbels says 'We own the world and space!' we Heil *fart* Heil *fart* right in Herr Goebbels face." - Spike Jones

However, the NSA is allowed to lie. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39429337)

"NSA Chief Denies Claims of Domestic Spying"

However, the NSA is allowed to lie, according to the U.S. government, which uses Israeli and other secret agencies when it wants to hide activities that are illegal in the United States.

The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt.

Re:Godwin. (1)

NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429733)

When you lie, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”. — Adolf Hitler

Ich liebe dich meine fuhrer!

Re:Loophole (5, Insightful)

PatentMagus (1083289) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428109)

Loophole no longer needed. Remember when Candidate Obama promised to end illegal spying on American citizens? Who would have dreamed he intended to end the illegality by making it "legal" (quote marks to indicate not tested in court). At least he addressed the issue. The other 2008 candidates thought it was just fine the way it was.

It's kind of quaint to look back at how mad I was about the spying when I now tiredly shrug my shoulders about the assassinations and that "due process" now means there is a process instead of meaning a chance to defend yourself in court.

Re:Loophole (4, Insightful)

Entrope (68843) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428259)

If you are going to do very infrequently do something that is morally questionable, it is usually better to get forgiveness than permission. In cases like illegal spying or torture, that would be through keeping the activities classified and issuing pardons as necessary. "Addressing the issue" by making it legal for the government to do morally dubious things is awful long-term strategy -- it indicates that the government will be doing that often enough to need advance permission.

Re:Loophole (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429943)

Also, one could show some positive "effect" of the unfortunate directive to appease the populace.

Re:Loophole (3, Insightful)

Bartles (1198017) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428817)

Remember when there was still an evil republican in the white house, and people still acted like they gave a shit?

Re:Loophole (2)

orgelspieler (865795) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429527)

Wait... Obama's not an evil Republican? But he hires cronies, flaunts the Bill of Rights in the name of national security, goes to war in oil-rich countries, and gives tax breaks to the rich. I'm so confused. Is there such a word as DINO? I know the right-wing nutjobs say "RINO" (it means any Republican who dares to talk about raising taxes, or a Senate Republican willing to confirm an Obama-nominated official, or a governor who enacts a health insurance overhaul).

Re:Loophole (4, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429677)

Those who care about issues, such as Glenn Greenwald [salon.com] , and the American Civil Liberties Union [aclu.org] , rather than partisan hackery do in fact give a shit, and have given Obama a hard time about this, and some have gone so far as to suggest supporting Ron Paul precisely because of his position on these issues.

Re:Loophole (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39429847)

It's unfortunate.

And this doesn't at all justify this kind of thing, but I often wonder what we don't know, that keep these things going.

Bush was hugely unpopular, and no-doubt feeling real heat at the end of his second term from the republican party. They knew they were going to have a hard time fielding any candidate after Bush Jr. But he held on the politically costly spying and detention issues.

Obama ran around campaigning on stopping these things, as any good politician would. He got all kinds of political capital out of those talking points, and it bought him all kinds of public support, because nobody likes the idea of domestic spying, shifty detention facilities and borderline torturous treatment of prisoners.

But then he got into office, and pulled a complete 180 on them. They're still very politically costly, so why would he do that? Then throw in the ability to collect and detain US CITIZENS, signed by his own hand. And to do these things in your first term, when you know you're running for a second? It just doesn't make sense for a career politician seeking reelection.

So what is so goddamn scary and awful that both Bush and Obama would hold on to these hugely unpopular things, or even make them worse, at such high political cost to themselves and their parties? This, I badly want to know.

Re:Loophole (1)

elgeeko.com (2472782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429939)

"So what is so goddamn scary and awful that both Bush and Obama would hold on to these hugely unpopular things, or even make them worse, at such high political cost to themselves and their parties? This, I badly want to know."
a: an educated public willing to stand up for themselves.

Hmmm... (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39427855)

Luckily the NSA would never lie to us, or to congress, so I'm pretty sure that we can trust him on this one.

Re:Hmmm... (3)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428103)

Of course I trust them. We should all trust them. Doubleplus good, they are! No problems from me on that, that's for sure.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

docilespelunker (1883198) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429033)

I indeed doubleplus trust that we are not spied upon. We have learned to love Govpol. We love Govpol. We have always loved Govpol. There was nothing before Govpol as Govpol has always been and will always be.

Ehh, with all the weird stuff I look up, wonder who they think I am. If they have an algorithm that can work it out. I ask for feedback (they'll be reading this of course) as I'd like to know myself!

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429797)

That's been my main strategy against governmental/private/or any other type of spying on my activities. If my queries reveal that I looked up bomb making parts, you better take that into consideration with the Japanese tentacle monster that's in my history as well. I feel sorry for whoever has to track my logs. That poor bastard is in for a strange ride.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428141)

Of course! It's against the law to lie to Congress, you know!

Re:Hmmm... (2)

iter8 (742854) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428415)

Of course! It's against the law to lie to Congress, you know!

He had his fingers crossed, so no problem.

Re:Hmmm... (5, Funny)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428997)

Of course! It's against the law to lie to Congress, you know!

He had his fingers crossed, so no problem.

As long as there's a process...

Re:Hmmm... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428241)

I used to have a lot of respect for General K. Now it sounds like he's "special too [youtube.com] " (apologies to Stephen Lynch).

Re:Hmmm... (5, Insightful)

JonahsDad (1332091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429029)

Of course the NSA does NOT have the ability to do what Congress asked the general about. If they had that ability, they wouldn't need to build the Utah data center. Once the data center is complete, they'll have the ability. Just not right now.

The NSA is so secret (4, Informative)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39427875)

If you work there, you need to keep even well known facts a secret.

Re:The NSA is so secret (2, Funny)

drodal (1285636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428419)

And if you work for a company that is doing work for "the agency", you have to refer to them as "the agency"
true story

Re:The NSA is so secret (1)

docilespelunker (1883198) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429101)

I prefer "the big giant head" when referring to those above me. Third rock from the sun has a lot to answer for...

Re:The NSA is so secret (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429339)

The existence of the NSA was an official secret for quite a while after it became common knowledge. This is where the backronym No Such Agency comes from.

Wut? (4, Insightful)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39427881)

A General lying about his intentions to the enemy?

Say it ain't so!

The problem here is that the US Government seems to regard it's citizens as "the enemy".

Strat

Re:Wut? (3, Insightful)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39427941)

The Government regards all of us as Lemmings. They want to control every aspect of our lives, and the NSA is just one tool to accomplish this.

Re:Wut? (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428063)

not an american-specific problem!

do you honestly believe your own country (if not the US) doesn't also spy on its citizens? filter their information? tell them what to think?

this is a wave that is engulfing the whole world. we are witnessing a human issue, here; not a nationalistic one.

the sooner people (world wide) wake the fuck up, the better!

YOUR gov does not exist for you. its always been the other way around. those in power know this. wake the fuck up, people! stop thinking 'its the other guy' who is wrong. its YOUR government, too. anyone who CAN, WILL. this much power is not possible to resist.

the struggle of people against their 'rulers' is as old as the world. only the toys have changed, over time.

Re:Wut? (2)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428165)

only the toys have changed, over time.

Those new toys is what gives 1% of the population control over the other 99%.

Re:Wut? (3, Insightful)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428329)

Today, it's those 'new toys'. Back in history, it was 'divine birthright'. The tools have changed. The mentality hasn't, not for a very very long time.

Re:Wut? (3, Insightful)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428469)

You can't compare the world today with any time in history. Humans never had the capability to destroy the whole world. We are as alien to those people in the past, as we are to a civilization thousands of light-years from here.

Re:Wut? (5, Insightful)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428691)

You can't compare the world today with any time in history. Humans never had the capability to destroy the whole world.
Well, considering that up until a couple hundred years ago, hardly anyone ever travelled or moved more than a couple miles from the town in which he was born, the subjective meaning of "destroy the whole world" becomes "destroy everyone in my town." As our worldview grew, so did our weapons.

Re:Wut? (1, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428723)

Get over it. We can't 'destroy' the world. Even a massive nuclear exchange would only reset the planet's ecosystem on an order of the last 'dino killer' asteroid. Yeah, it would suck to be us (and lots of other species) but the 'world' is going to survive our puny attempts to wipe it out.

Personally, I think the anthropocene [wikipedia.org] is just going to be a puzzling, slightly radioactive stratographic layer in a distant geology book.

'WTF were those assclowns about' will be the byline.

Re:Wut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428609)

Today, it's those 'new toys'. Back in history, it was 'divine birthright'. The tools have changed. The mentality hasn't, not for a very very long time.

Divine birthright didn't do any good when the King's or Queen's head was chopped off.
So my fellow americans, when is the revolution coming ? You already have the right to bear arms, and in Florida the right to shoot first ask questions later. All is in place for the change.

Re:Wut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39429603)

No, in Florida you have the right to shoot without trying to flee -- there is not nor has there ever been, in any state I'm aware of, a duty to "ask questions" (i.e. confirm the perceived threat on your life), before or after shooting.

The neighborhood watch/vigilante incident there (sorry, I forget the victim's name) is, to all appearances, an illegal homicide that will get off the hook due to no witnesses. While it's unsettling that an apparent manslaughterer walks away scot-free, the argument that he would have been convicted (or would not have shot) under the previous law is no argument at all. There's all sorts of laws we could pass that would make various crimes easier to convict without witnesses -- for example, if we outlawed motor vehicles, then we wouldn't need a policeman to actually intercept DUIs to get a conviction. We don't pass laws because they make police work convenient, or give us the verdict we want in a specific case, we pass them because we believe they serve justice overall.

The question is whether the individual has an unambiguous right to use force in defense of their life, or whether it is a privilege to be granted by the state after they have met the state's conditions (i.e. fleeing). If it's the former, a duty to retreat is clearly unjustifiable -- the individual must make a judgement call whether they are more likely to save themselves by running or opening fire. If it's the latter (which I personally find ludicrous, but some argue for), then the state may set such requirements, and must do research to optimize the requirements for the best outcome overall.

Re:Wut? (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428571)

Wake up and do what, exactly? They control the media, the vote, the military...

Re:Wut? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429153)

they do control all that.

and they control the vote in terms of lying to us to get us to vote for the really bad guys. time and again, we keep 'electing' entirely the wrong ones.

the first step is to at least admit we are being hoodwinked.

I can't see any progress on even THAT much, though. admitting there is a problem is step 1 and we aren't even at that point. we are pushed 'left and right' by those in power and they want this or that distraction to keep us from realizing how under their control we really are.

turn off the tv. stop watching network news and establishment newspapers. that would be a good first step. stop sucking on their info sources and question all authoritity. assume bad intentions and fight anything that is put to us as 'progress'; it most certainly will be backward progress, if any.

in short, start to assume all in power are liars and go from there. its a start, at least!

Re:Wut? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428851)

Okay, suppose we've "woken up". Now what? If you're advocating open revolt, then "you first". If you're advocating working from within the system, how do you propose to organize and push from the roots up?

I always hear "wake up Sheeple!" in posts, usually from older guys, with a big, echoing, lack of substance after the waking up part, as if they're saying "now that you've woken up, you know what to do... I've done my part".

Take the next step, my friend- Do it the right/hard way, organize properly, with people that have made enough of themselves to be respected & listened to AND be willing to lose it all. Unfortunately, you're not going to find many that fit in this category.

Look at the founders of our Republic- A fair number of them were men of some means that put it all on the line, yet died in poverty after the revolution was successful- Where are you going to find people like that now?

And don't waste your time going around blowing shit up or killing innocent people to convince yourself that you're "making a statement" so you can feel good about having done something- aside from little issues concerning morality and ethics, it has rarely if ever created a lasting difference, and sure as hell won't work now.

If you are not willing to put everything you have and love, including your life, your fortune, and that of those of those you love on the line, please shut the fuck up.

Re:Wut? (1)

cheap.computer (1036494) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428129)

I thought Facebook did that ....

Re:Wut? (3, Interesting)

mbrod (19122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39427963)

All modern governments do. Administrations are more likely to be attacked and overthrown by their own citizens than from other countries. Same as it ever was.

Re:Wut? (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428105)

mod up.

the biggest threat is that the local people will realize they've been 'had'.

foreign threats pale compared to pitchforks and fires by the locals.

all of those in power dance a delicate dance in keeping the oppressed down and giving them enough to live on (just barely) to avoid the pitchfork syndrome.

world-wide, societies are collapsing and the rich get richer and the poor get pushed to the streets.

but the answer? SPY ON YOUR OWN PEOPLE MORE!

(sigh)

I wish I had an optimistic view but I just don't, anymore. evidence is so strong that things just won't end well. probably in our lifetimes, too.

Re:Wut? (1, Redundant)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428255)

And rightly so, american government should be afraid of its people. The jails are stuffed with the clueless that were not.

Re:Wut? (1)

godless dave (844089) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428393)

And the feeling is mutual.

All Comes Down to Wording (4, Insightful)

Gunfighter (1944) | more than 2 years ago | (#39427889)

IIRC, intercepting the communications from intercept points outside the U.S., regardless of whether they originated within the U.S., is how they justify spying on American citizens.

Don't listen to what government says (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39427917)

Listen to what government's balance sheet says.

Re:All Comes Down to Wording (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428015)

...Which made perfect sense in the days of geographically-efficient routing (mail, telegraph, radio, etc.) and less travel, because it was logical to assume that once a message left US borders, it was intended for someone who wasn't a US citizen. Today, though, packets are routed through whatever is financially efficient, even if that means a satellite or a data center on another continent, and the recipient's nationality is unknown when the packet's intercepted.

Re:All Comes Down to Wording (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428287)

The key word used that should not be ignroed is "justify."

Re:All Comes Down to Wording (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39429089)

Yup. They also spy on American citizens while targeting foreign nationals. Notice how often he switches to using targeting instead of monitoring.

Okay then... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39427919)

If the NSA isn't spying on American citizens, then why are they so steadfastly opposed to EFF, EPIC, etc. trying to obtain that information from them in court?

What is their explanation about the monitoring rooms in AT&T's facilities that tap into domestic fiber?

They won't give us an explanation in a court room but they'll make promises that they aren't.

Sorry, I can't trust the words of an organization that is vital to the interest of a dying empire.

Re:Okay then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428069)

If the NSA isn't spying on American citizens, then why are they so steadfastly opposed to EFF, EPIC, etc. trying to obtain that information from them in court?

What is their explanation about the monitoring rooms in AT&T's facilities that tap into domestic fiber?

They won't give us an explanation in a court room but they'll make promises that they aren't.

Sorry, I can't trust the words of an organization that is vital to the interest of a dying empire.

^ this

Re:Okay then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428189)

They're scared because people will start asking pesky questions and eventually want to know where the money really goes.

Re:Okay then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428321)

Because Echelon doesn't exist. So much so, that the posting of this message won't have my IP logged and put into higher level of activity monitoring.

Re:Okay then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428567)

Of course Echelon doesn't exist. They tore it down in 2007 [wikipedia.org] .

How the hell is this "insightful?" (3, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428611)

If the NSA isn't spying on American citizens, then why are they so steadfastly opposed to EFF, EPIC, etc. trying to obtain that information from them in court?

Replace that with:

"If the CIA isn't spying on American citizens, then why are they so steadfastly opposed to EFF, EPIC, etc. trying to obtain the identities of their officers and front organizations?"

"If federal law enforcement isn't running a side criminal organization for profit, they why are they steadfastly opposed to revealing who is in the witness protection program?"

Really, people. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why the NSA wouldn't open up to the world under some notion of "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" even if they're lilly white on domestic espionage. Maybe it's because... well... no arm of the military (which they are) in their right mind just says "hey world, come take a look at our full operational capabilities and see just how awesome and scary we are!"

Re:Okay then... (1)

krept (697623) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428761)

If the NSA isn't spying on American citizens, then why are they so steadfastly opposed to EFF, EPIC, etc. trying to obtain that information from them in court?

What is their explanation about the monitoring rooms in AT&T's facilities that tap into domestic fiber?

They don't want to spy on American citizens...
They just want the technology in place to do so.

Re:Okay then... (0)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428897)

Has it occurred to you that large volumes of foreign traffic also travels through US equipment and networks [slashdot.org] ?

Or that having a capability doesn't automatically translate into using it, and it's the law and oversight that prevents this?

And that with intelligence, that oversight is is entrusted to our elected officials by proxy, is not public, and never will be?

Re:Okay then... (1)

krept (697623) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429369)

Doesn't exactly refute my claim.
Was just a slight quip anyway.

Easy (5, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428807)

1. An intelligence service cannot be effective if its sources, methods, capabilities, and techniques are known to the adversary. Intelligence processes must be kept secret, even in an open society. This has been true for the history of our nation.

2. Inasmuch as "monitoring rooms" are alleged — because their existence, capabilities, and numbers are NOT KNOWN beyond the assertions of a whistleblower with an admitted anti-war agenda — NSA is authorized to monitor foreign communications WITHIN THE US, and must be able to identify, discern, and target such communications within the sea of digital communications.

3. See 1.

4. How is what you assume NSA to be doing "vital to the interest of a dying empire"? Do you think the world would be a better place without the US, the West, and the ability to project and protect principles of freedom and liberal democracy, even if imperfectly? Would China, Russia, or a chaotic mix of Mideast states and transnational radials really be a better global steward?

I find the inaccuracy of the summary particularly amusing:

"Alexander even went so far as to claim the NSA lacks the authority to monitor American citizens. It's an authority that was given to the NSA through the FISA Amendments Act signed into law by Bush and still supported today by Obama."

NSA lacks the authority to monitor American citizens without an individualized warrant. And the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 actually is more strict with respect to US Persons than previous law: a warrant is required to monitor the communications of a US Person anywhere on the globe. But what the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 also does is allow NSA to target and monitor FOREIGN communications within the US, without a warrant.

I know some people might be stunned to learn this, but the primary mission of the foreign intelligence agencies is FOREIGN intelligence. But what about "warrantless wiretapping", you ask?

In the immediate wake of 9/11, the administration claimed the the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) allowed them to target American citizens identified as having contact with the enemy and/or were active combatants. The current Attorney General also argues that the President has this intrinsic authority under Article II of the Constitution. This was the same justification used in the targeting of Anwar al-Awlaki.

Other examples are things like journalists embedded with military units having the communications allegedly monitored, which would happen under the guise of the Joint COMSEC Monitoring Activity. And then we have the court cases — all of which involved people or groups who were thought to be linked to terror groups, not just ordinary, everyday citizens.

Even the most egregious examples of "warrantless wiretapping" (as alleged in the leaks to the press, or documented in various court proceedings) in the wake of 9/11 targeted very specific people — and were justified by the Justice Department, secretly reported to Congress, and reauthorized every 45 days. And that program had long ended by the time the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 fixed the dismal state of foreign intelligence collection.

This excerpt (An 'Intel Gap': What We're Missing, Newsweek, Aug 6, 2007) sums up the issue:

The intel gap results partly from rapid changes in the technology carrying much of the world's message traffic (principally telephone calls and e-mails). The National Security Agency is falling so far behind in upgrading its infrastructure to cope with the digital age that the agency has had problems with its electricity supply, forcing some offices to temporarily shut down. The gap is also partly a result of administration fumbling over legal authorization for eavesdropping by U.S. agencies.

The post-Watergate Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) required a warrant for eavesdropping on people in the U.S. But after 9/11, the administration asserted that warrants weren't needed to surveil communications involving suspected terrorists even inside the U.S. The controversy over "warrantless wiretapping" made intel officials gun-shy about eavesdropping even on messages they would have regarded as fair game before 9/11.

According to both administration and congressional officials (anonymous when discussing such issues), the White House and intelligence czar's office are now urgently trying to negotiate a legal fix with Congress that would make it easier for NSA to eavesdrop on e-mails and phone calls where all parties are located outside the U.S., even if at some point the message signal crosses into U.S. territory.

Much of the electronic communications NSA once pored over, between two parties communicating with each other outside the U.S., used to travel via satellite or radiolike signal, leaving NSA free to pluck the messages out of the air. Technological innovations, however, have shifted more and more traffic—both e-mail and telephone calls—to hard-wired or fiberoptic networks, many of which have critical switching or transit facilities inside the U.S. Therefore, intel-collection officials concluded that FISA court authorizations should be obtained to eavesdrop not just on messages where at least one party is inside the country, but also for eavesdropping on messages between two parties overseas that pass through U.S. communications gear. Two officials familiar with the controversy, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive material, said that had the administration initially been candid about its antiterror surveillance plans, it could have worked with Congress years ago to tweak the FISA laws to account for the technological changes. One of the officials said the administration's secretiveness had, in this case, created problems for antiterrorism efforts.

So we got the stopgap Protect America Act of 2007, and the ultimate changes in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, along with the August 2008 FISC ruling.

A lot of things were done immediately after 9/11 which were justified — whether rightly or not — by the AUMF. It took several years for the law to catch up to the urgency of what was happening after 9/11. The fact the US does foreign surveillance without warrants is not new in any respect. What IS new is that a lot more of the information travels via digital, non-wireless media, and can no longer be intercepted via globally-distributed listening posts, ships, and other traditional tools.

In closing, NSA's Secret Data Center Is A Threat -- But Only To America's Enemies [forbes.com] .

Gitmo (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429485)

Given that US citizens can now be 'Gimoized' (along with being drone-killed sans trial), we are already Foreigners in the eyes of the security organs.

Re:Easy (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429573)

Do you think the world would be a better place without the US, the West, and the ability to project and protect principles of freedom and liberal democracy, even if imperfectly?

At what point did the US project or protect liberal democracy? We are more concerned with the profitability of our businesses than with the rights and freedoms of foreign citizens (sometimes we are even more concerned about business profits than with the rights or freedoms of Americans). How are we projecting liberal democracy in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait? How are we projecting liberal democracy in South America? How about Africa?

I know some people might be stunned to learn this, but the primary mission of the foreign intelligence agencies is FOREIGN intelligence.

Why would anyone be stunned by it? The real question is not whether the NSA is gathering foreign intelligence, but what is being done with that intelligence. We know little because of the secrecy; what we do know is this:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/820758.stm [bbc.co.uk]
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+REPORT+A5-2001-0264+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN [europa.eu]

What is that? Foreign intelligence operations being used to promote the interests of US businesses and harm the interests of their foreign competitors? We are really pushing liberal democracy with that one, right?

We only push for "democracy" when it coincides with favorable policies for US businesses, period. If a dictatorship is friendly to US corporations, we would never dream of trying to subvert the dictator or promote democracy. We put on a great show of things, criticizing censorship and other human rights abuses, but at the end of the day our foreign policy puts corporate interests first and foremost.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39429921)

How is it a threat to the NSA's effectiveness if they are forced to prove that they don't spy on American citizens? Nobody asked them for their specific details on their foreign spying operations, it is simply being asked for them to come into open court and tell us whether or not they're engaging in domestic spying.

If they refuse to prove that point, then it means they are guilty.

The NSA guy is a liar, plain and simple.

That made me laugh (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39427949)

They're spying on everything their hardware can handle and using keywords to record the interesting bits. I always wonder what would happen if one played back the word "bomb" 50 thousand times with the audio of a gay porn in the background on a telephone call...

Re:That made me laugh (3, Funny)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39427981)

Probably what every fratboy at the NSA would do.

After the automated equipment picks up the phone call, they would troll each other with the gay porn audio.

--
BMO

Re:That made me laugh (-1, Flamebait)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428149)

After the automated equipment picks up the phone call, they would troll each other with the gay porn audio.

or just replay republican talk radio. same general effect, isn't it?

Re:That made me laugh (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428401)

After the automated equipment picks up the phone call, they would troll each other with the gay porn audio.

or just replay republican talk radio. same general effect, isn't it?

Such "tolerance".

What an unintentionally revealing post.

I haven't seen reports of rapes at Tea Party rallies, unlike the shitfests spawned by left-wing OWSers.

Re:That made me laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428899)

"I haven't seen reports of rapes at Tea Party rallies, unlike the shitfests spawned by left-wing OWSers."

[Citation please]

Re:That made me laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39429269)

"I haven't seen reports of rapes at Tea Party rallies, unlike the shitfests spawned by left-wing OWSers."

[Citation please]

Crawl out from under your rock:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/sexual-assaults-occupy-wall-street-camps/story?id=14873014#.T2oJvOweRos [go.com]

http://gothamist.com/2011/11/05/occupy_wall_street_erects_women-onl.php [gothamist.com]

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/nyc-reporter-stays-night-at-occupy-wall-st-scary-place-where-rape-threat-is-very-real/ [theblaze.com]

Re:That made me laugh (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429871)

Do you even read the stuff you link?

Occupy Wall Street Erects Women-Only Tent After Reports Of Sexual Assaults

[..]

the 16-square-foot metal-framed tent will be watched by female members of the de-escalation team, and can sleep 18 people. "This is all about safety in numbers," 24-year-old protester Becky Wartell says.

One 23-year-old woman tells the paper that she'll be sleeping in the safe space "partially because of the recent attacks that have been happening." She adds, "I think that this will help bring more women to the movement as well. I think a lot of women have been hesitant and especially for those that are new and don't know a lot of people it's hard to find a safe place to stay."

But another 37-year-old protester from Park Slope tells the Daily News she feels safe enough in Zuccotti Park outside of the women-only tent: "Certainly women are the first target for any type of crazies, but I live in Park Slope, and the rapists there are more scary. I feel safer here.”

[..]

Soo.... you were saying? That OWS is some kind of rapist movement, instead of that being a blatant smear attempt, hmm?

Re:That made me laugh (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428381)

How exactly does the audio for gay porn differ from the audio of any other form of porn? Isn't it all pretty much slippery/slidey noises with a bad 1970's era guitar background?

Interview in DemocracyNow (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39427975)

DemocracyNow (http://www.democracynow.org) has interview with Thomas Drake, NSA Whistleblower (http://www.democracynow.org/2012/3/21/in_unprecedented_obama_admin_crackdown_nsa) and James Bamford, the author of the Wired article and the book 'Puzzle Palace' (http://www.democracynow.org/2012/3/21/exposed_inside_the_nsas_largest_and)

Re:Interview in DemocracyNow (4, Interesting)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428901)

Meh. I worked at NSA for about a year back in the '80s, and I have read "Puzzle Palace." Quite frankly, "Puzzle Palace" was very sensationalist. For example, I remember reading about the electric fence around FanX (IIRC). I spent a couple of months working at FanX while waiting for my clearances to come through so I could actually start doing what I was hired to do. Guess what? FanX was surrounded by barbed-wire fence, but there was no electric fence there. The history of NSA in the book was interesting, but Bamford exaggerated a bit in his descriptions of what it was actually like there. "Puzzle Palace" was more Nancy Grace than Peter Jennings.

On the flip side, my year at NSA made me very skeptical of a lot of things I heard prior to 2004. Where I worked, we had signs posted everywhere reminding people that it was illegal (by Executive Order) for NSA to spy on Americans. We were chartered for the purpose of foreign surveillance, so Americans were off-limits. Then came the revelation of NSA wiretapping at AT&T and other telcos. Sigh. I'm just glad I don't work there anymore.

"even American citizens" (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428019)

So it's fine for you twats to spy on us, but unthinkable to spy on yourselves?

Domestic spying story years ago (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428043)

I believe it was on NPR years ago, they had people who were immigrants calling in telling stories about how they'd be on a phone call with relatives back home and sometimes speaking obscure languages (those I vaguely remember were Scandinavian I think). Immediately after their calls, they were contacted by unknown people asking what language they were speaking.

Re:Domestic spying story years ago (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428515)

Immediately after their calls, they were contacted by unknown people asking what language they were speaking.

Bullshit. Let me guess why you can't find any reference for this... does it involve some sort of government conspiracy?

Re:Domestic spying story years ago (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428693)

Because it was a radio show I was listening to 3+ years ago. That's as far as the story went.

"NSA Cheif Lies About Domestic Spying" (2)

Gedvondur (40666) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428057)

Please. Nobody in the post-911 era believes that the government is refraining from spying on American citizens.

What a disgrace.

Re:"NSA Cheif Lies About Domestic Spying" (2)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428833)

Please. Nobody in the post-911 era believes that the government is refraining from spying on American citizens.

What a disgrace.

The NSA spies on all citizens American or foreign.

Re:"NSA Cheif Lies About Domestic Spying" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39429545)

I can neither confirm nor deny that any agency has taken any action concerning me which they then forbade me to confirm or deny anything about.

That's his job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428185)

His entire job is to deny the NSA is doing stuff.

True, they don't have the authority. (0)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428217)

It's true. The NSA only has authority to monitor American citizens with brown skin.

Executive Order 12333 (5, Informative)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428239)

Read the order that grants NSA their current authority here.

Executive Order 12333:
http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/eo12333.htm [fas.org]

(If you go to a public-facing NSA briefing, this is the one they will cite.)

Re:Executive Order 12333 (2)

zeronitro (937642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428917)

Can we also cite where in the Constitution the President has the right to execute "executive orders" and why anyone has to follow them?

Re:Executive Order 12333 (2)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429091)

He's the head of the executive branch. This means he gets to decide the particulars of how the laws congress passes will be carried out and boss around all the agencies under him. Bureaucrats follow the orders because it's their job, of course.

The irony of inland espionage (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428277)

There's this standard irony in security related work. In setting up a system that can be spied upon (i.e. a hacked system) you will hire commercials to produce the hack who will also pass these little gems of knowledge on to other organisations that they (outside of work) do spying for (religions, countries etc.). Eventually in looking for people who are a threat to security you will generate holes in your national infrastructure that will leave your country wide open to espionage and destructive hacking. It also means that we have mobile phones and laptops that can be crashed with jammers as well, which damages everybody. Remember to stay paranoid! :0)

their 'out' (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428379)

[quote]saying the NSA did not have the capability to monitor, inside the United States, Americansâ(TM) text messages, phone calls and e-mails.[/quote]

oh! so the tapping equipment is on a network that is physically OUTSIDE the US borders.

oh. simple way to avoid the question.

but your lips were still moving, so we KNOW you were lying, at heart.

you bastard.

Re:their 'out' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428815)

Menwith Hill? Amongst others.

What's the big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39428385)

Even if they were spying, which they probably are not. Any evidence they obtain against a "terrorist" would probably not stand up in court anyway since it's illegal for them to spy on Americans. And also, if you are a law abiding citizen and are not doing anything wrong, then don't worry about it anyway. The NSA is really not interested in your boring personal conversations. They are there to keep us all safe from all the baddies that are out to destroy our country and hate our freedom. Get a life, people.

Was his testimony sworn? (1)

jschultz410 (583092) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428615)

I hope so and I hope some of the legislatures reminded him that he was under oath ...

In other news.... (3, Funny)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428839)

Gen. Keith Alexander also denied the existence of Gen. Keith Alexander, thought to be NSA's Chief General. When questioned upon this subject, Alexander said: "If such a person would be at NSA, I could not comment upon that.". When asked, however, by a curious Congressman Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, whether "NSA" might stand for "No Such Alexander", Gen. Alexander did not hesitate to confirm with "Yes", marking the first time a high-ranking NSA-official has made such a revealing statement publicly. Yet the astonished Congressman Johnson, new to Congress and unfamiliar with such sensitive matters, asked the NSA's envoy once more in, what was perceived as too direct a fashion: "But General Alexander, if such a Person does not exist at NSA, then who are we talking to today?" After the gasps of horror subsided, Gen. Alexander answered in his usual humorous fashion, that he became well-known for ever since serving in Germany: "I could tell you, but zen you wudd be dedd! HA HA HA".
After the meeting adjourned, another member of Congress sighed (under condition of anonymity), that he still doesn't know who they questioned today. "I mean, there's really no such person working in no such agency (and I have no reason to doubt that this is the case), but still you sit there and listen to this person from that agency and it's like totally freaking you out, man!"
Congressman Johnson was unfortunately unavailable for an interview. He was found dead the next morning in the Potomac river, having died of accidental causes according to, strangely, Utah Police. A spokesman said "You know, we get that a lot over there in D.C...that people drink a little too much, stumble around with their feet in some fresh concrete and then jump in the river to cool of from the intoxication, where, tragically, they get pulled to the bottom by the now solid bricks encasing their expensive shoes." The NSA was unavailable for comment...

Have I missed an episode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39429025)

Since when does the NSA confirms or denies anything?

Riiiiiight (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429099)

Alexander even went so far as to claim the NSA lacks the authority to monitor American citizens.

Since, you know, that's stopped government entities from doing things outside their jurisdiction before.
OH WAIT, no it doesn't. Ever.

600k (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39429129)

600k iterations make one truth

NSA meaning (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429571)

FISA Amendments Act

NSA - No Such Act

Yea right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39429743)

Yea right and all those black cabinets I have seen in backbone data centers in Atlanta aren't really there either. I have seen these things with my own eyes and have been confronted by geeks with guns in the DC while they were working on them. I'd really like to take the general to these places and say "Explain these then." We used to be in the DC where Yahoo moved in when they took on ATT's mail. The last thing that went in was two black cabinets with big hairy digital locks and a new camera to watch just those cabinets. When we found out that our data was also going through these things we moved out.

I wish they would just come out and admit we are a fascist state and get it over with. Enough of the lies.

Got One Thing Right (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429841)

It's an authority that was given to the NSA through the FISA Amendments Act signed into law by Bush and still supported today by Obama.

No law permits a violation of the Constitution. Any law that contradicts the Constitution is null and void. So they're right that they don't have the authority to spy domestically, regardless of what the FISA Amendments Act says. Whether this is applied in practice is the real mystery. Other organizations - I believe the DEA/FBI - were recently caught putting tracking devices on people's cars.

It seems to be a common attitude in law enforcement - from the local to federal level - that liberties are an obstacle to justice rather than the cornerstone of it. We all know about the extensive data mining of internet companies like Facebook. I can only imagine what type of scary shit the NSA is doing. Freedom on information laws aren't very effective considering anything the public needs to know can be classified.

Logic say "what"? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429947)

These three-letter agencies tend to "neither confirm or deny" their actions, so an explicit denial is probably a confirmation... Now excuse me while I relax in the comfy chair [wikipedia.org] some well-dressed gentlemen just delivered.
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