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After LinkedIn Clues, FOIA Nets New Details On NSA's ANCHORY Program

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the taking-a-good-look dept.

United States 75

v3rgEz writes "After the ACLU's Christopher Soghoian highlighted NSA programs listed on LinkedIn, Jason Gulledge filed a request for details about the program — and turned up lucky. The NSA released 7 pages of database descriptions of its ANCHORY program, an open-source intelligence data gathering effort. The NSA's FOIA office said it would pony up more, but only if Gulledge could prove he was requesting the documents as part of a news gathering effort or if he would agree to pay associated fees."

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75 comments

Calling the surpreme court... (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 9 months ago | (#44383909)

news gathering effort

We're gonna need the 9 wise men/women to define "news". Otherwise he could claim something like "I'm writing for my news blog..."

Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44383999)

Does the FOIA even allow for such distinction?

Re:Why? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384417)

"or if he would agree to pay associated fees."

FOIA does allow for this - it's not carte blanche to bankrupt the government with stupid requests for metric tons of paper. FOIA has always allowed for this - they will often waive the fees for 'news stories,' but will charge fees associated with the processing of the requests for private requests.

Re:Why? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about 9 months ago | (#44385801)

I would have assumed that anything from the NSA in the current climate would constitute as news. Even if it is just a news catalogue.
He should just say "I solemnly swear that I will post it on the net".

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44386017)

And he should definitely make that argument. As long as the disclosure is "in the public interest" and "not for the commercial benefit of the requester," the FOI Officer can opt to reduce or waive the FOIA processing fees. See the rules at: http://www.hhs.gov/foia/45cfr5.html#Subd [hhs.gov]

Alternately, he could start a Kickstarter project, and ask for donations. I bet there'd be plenty of people who would contribute a few bucks to covering the processing fees the NSA is asking for.

Re:Why? (1)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about 9 months ago | (#44386289)

Kickstarter doesn't allow for charities, and is VERY strict about what gets on there. I seem to remember reading a 60% approval rate including projects who appeal the initial rejection.

The spirit of that idea is fantastic though...surely there is another solid crowdfunding site.

Paper? What f***ing Century Are You From? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44386607)

Are you a moron?

I'd pay for the disk drive myself.

Re:Calling the surpreme court... (2)

Nickodeimus (1263214) | about 9 months ago | (#44384011)

Actually, these days the government decides who is a journalist and who is not.

Re:Calling the surpreme court... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384233)

Actually, these days the government decides who is a journalist and who is not.

Well, IANACL but, to this citizen allowing such a law or precedent would be tantamount to installing a back door into the First Amendment, for if the Government can say who is or isn't a member of the Press then there is NO Freedom of the Press! This is how the Second Amendment has been succumbing to erosion. There is not now, never has been and never will be a law that does not take something away from Freedom.

Re:Calling the surpreme court... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384301)

Journalist = persons who transmit info from a government authorized leaker
Not a journalist = person who transmits info from non-government authorized leaker

Re:Calling the surpreme court... (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 9 months ago | (#44388945)

Don't you really mean:

Journalist = persons who transmit info from a government authorized leaker
Terrorist = person who transmits info from non-government authorized leaker

Re:Calling the surpreme court... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44389087)

Not a journalist = person who transmits info from non-government authorized leaker
or
Not a journalist = person who transmits info from government non-authorized leaker
?

Re:Calling the surpreme court... (5, Insightful)

tacokill (531275) | about 9 months ago | (#44384457)

A journalist is a person who reports things that people don't want reported. Anything else is public relations.

Re:Calling the surpreme court... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384517)

Actually, these days the government decides who is a journalist and who is not.

Very true, but that started a long time ago. When the Irish terrorists started murdering civilians in England after a decent time of peace, the British government instructed the media to say nothing about it, absolutely nothing! Meanwhile the population was watching dead being removed from bombed buildings, and people covered in blood aimlessly wandering around wondering what was going on, via foreign news channels on satellite TV (*), including CNN. The world knew what was going on hours before any British based media outlet even mentioned it.

Now think back to how families were worried shitless when their dad didn't return from London on time. The government didn't know what to do, so put out a cease order. How many other events have been brushed under the carpet, or warped until the spin-masters ensure their lies propagate?

(*) sat' TV was the main big channel selection option back then, cable handn't really started rolling out. And it also gave owners the ability to pick up a lot of Euro channels for free as well as the Murdoch crap.

Re:Calling the surpreme court... (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 9 months ago | (#44384189)

you dont need nine, just five and the rest could be prairie dogs as far as the law is concerned... as long as nobody knows they are prairie dogs. <_<;

Re:Calling the surpreme court... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384281)

as long as nobody knows they are prairie dogs. <_<;

On the Internet, no one will ever know.

Prove why? (4, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | about 9 months ago | (#44383911)

WTH is that about? I'm an American and i want to know what my government is doing. .That should be valid enough of a reason.

Fees and "news" (5, Informative)

Typical Slashdotter (2848579) | about 9 months ago | (#44384143)

Complying with FOIA requests can be expensive, especially for an organization like the NSA which will have to conduct a thorough review to make sure nothing's classified. The FOIA permits agencies to charge fees to cover these expenses (see foia.gov's description of costs [foia.gov]). When disclosure of the information is "in the public" interest, the agency can waive these fees [foia.gov].

Re:Fees and "news" (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 9 months ago | (#44384219)

The presumption that all the information shouldn't be public knowledge before we allow such programs to operate is detrimental to a free society.

Re:Fees and "news" (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 9 months ago | (#44384313)

Ex-CIA chief Michael Hayden thinks transparency is not a virtue. That is, as long as we're talking about goverment transparency, and not yours.

Re:Fees and "news" (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about 9 months ago | (#44387841)

Ex-CIA chief Michael Hayden thinks transparency is not a virtue. That is, as long as we're talking about goverment transparency, and not yours.

The Criminals In Action think transporting heroin from Afghanistan to America without repurcussions or paying taxes is the perfect business model. Why would you believe anything they say?

Re:Fees and "news" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384323)

This guy thinks the USA is a "free society". How cute and quaint.

Re: Fees and "news" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44385625)

Well no, unfortunately the US has things such as laws and prisons that prevent it from being a 'free society'. If you truly want to live in a free society, where citizens are free to di as they please, try Somalia or something.

Re: Fees and "news" (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 9 months ago | (#44386119)

Well no, unfortunately the US has things such as laws and prisons that prevent it from being a 'free society'. If you truly want to live in a free society, where citizens are free to di as they please, try Somalia or something.

Most of us think of "free society" as meaning "free to do as you please, and travel where you want". You're still a member of a free society if you impinge on other people's freedoms and they take your own freedom in response. I.e.: if you deprive someone else of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness (including their accumulated material goods), you disrupt the equation and a balance is demanded.

"Travel where you want" is rather shaky in the USA these days, however, since "free society" does NOT imply having to strip naked and present your papers to travel within the boundaries of your own country. Or have invisible agencies collect data on you with no probably cause. Because that sort of stuff makes one think twice about exercising your freedom. And if you have to think about it, you're not really free anymore.

Re:Fees and "news" (1)

click2005 (921437) | about 9 months ago | (#44384225)

It shouldn't be that hard or expensive, they already have lots of computers to search for data.

Re:Fees and "news" (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 9 months ago | (#44384297)

I'm sure the NSA would be perfectly happy to send you ALL the data they have stored, as long as you're willing to accept it in paper hardcopy and am willing to pay the cost of doing it. All 1.3 Petabytes of it...

Re:Fees and "news" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44385511)

how many libraries of congress is that? :)

(how would that compare to the amount of paper produced in a year?)

Re:Fees and "news" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384479)

The FOIA permits agencies to charge fees to cover these expenses (see foia.gov's description of costs [foia.gov]).

When disclosure of the information is "in the public" interest, the agency can waive these fees [foia.gov].

Did the individual / organization submitting the FOIA request pay their taxes this or last year?

Yes?

The fees have been paid. Full stop.

No one believes your horse shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384501)

The amount of waste of government spending from the IRS's million dollars parties, to the Military industrial complex & it's black projects, to interest charged on money that never existed in the first place by the federal reserve.. Seriously? It's going to cost too much?

Anyone have a bitch slap app? Where I can physically bitch slap the parent through the internet for being totally fucking ignorant of real government waste?

Hint: the pennies in comparison it costs to find out how much our civil rights have been trampled on is NOTHING compared to the unimaginative costs of government waste listed above. In fact if it cost a $1,000,000,000 to figure out who has been breaking the law and grossly violating our right it will have been worth the cost.

I bet you're a cheap motherfucker who's never impressed anyone either.

Re:Fees and "news" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384631)

So, it's a two+ party government with NO BEER that we were paying for to start with and then have to pay yet another fee to attend? Then if we ask any questions the price goes up, again even more if we get an answer?

Re:Fees and "news" (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 9 months ago | (#44387677)

Complying with FOIA requests can be expensive

Keeping your political system healthy has a price.

Re:Fees and "news" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44388477)

Everything is classified. They just saved a ton of money on their FOIA requests by switching to tyranny.

Re:Fees and "news" (1)

mcswell (1102107) | about 9 months ago | (#44407577)

"Everything is classified." If you looked at the original article, you would see this is not true. It was marked U//FOUO, which you can look up in Wikipedia if your fingers can walk that far.

Re:Prove why? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384145)

Thank you for this request, Citizen. Unfortunately, Glorious Leader Obummer does not recognize this as a valid reason. Please go back to watching American Idol or we will be forced to consider sending you to the reeducation camps.

-Ministry of Truth

Re:Prove why? (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 9 months ago | (#44384521)

Yeah like Bush-Cheney gave two shits about spying on Americans and telling them...remember wire tapping started BEFORE the Patriot passed....

Re:Prove why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384597)

Ok. Now did Obummer do anything to rein it in or stop any of the surveillance? Nope, he took it to all new levels of fascism.

Hope and change the Obummer way!

hi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44383939)

my co-worker's step-sister makes $83 hourly on the net. She has been discharged for 6 months however last month her pay check was $19589 simply acting on the net for a number of hours. Here's the location to scan additional
Read more at... www.bay92.Com

Re:hi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384129)

Your sister makes $8.30 an hour on her back. She has had a yellowish-green discharge for the last 6 months however her last job netted $195.89 simply by going down on a number of guys.

Check out her pic at goatse

hi to you, too! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384169)

I dunno, 236 hours/month sounds a lot like work to me.
No thanks.

I'm trying to figure out who isn't press. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 9 months ago | (#44383983)

It seems that the way we use digital methods to publish even these silly posts on Slashdot would qualify as a free press. Whenever you hit "submit", you are publishing. Period. Even if you're a complete jackass, a troll, a spammer, or a botnet.

Re:I'm trying to figure out who isn't press. (2)

Typical Slashdotter (2848579) | about 9 months ago | (#44384183)

A blogger likely would qualify as press for this purpose (but he'd still have to request the waiver). The FOIA has this provision to try to make sure that agencies don't spend inordinate time and money complying with requests that are just for the financial gain of the company/person making them.

Re:I'm trying to figure out who isn't press. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 9 months ago | (#44384339)

It seems to me that the professional journalists are more likely than just about anyone else to use these for financial gain, and I don't see that the first amendment allows the government to differentiate based on fiscal incentive for the requesting parties.

Re:I'm trying to figure out who isn't press. (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 9 months ago | (#44384719)

The data should be available by default. Part of any unclassified government purchase order should include keeping accessible records. We are NECK DEEP into the Information Age, its time we demand more access.

Re:I'm trying to figure out who isn't press. (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 9 months ago | (#44386187)

It seems that the way we use digital methods to publish even these silly posts on Slashdot would qualify as a free press. Whenever you hit "submit", you are publishing. Period. Even if you're a complete jackass, a troll, a spammer, or a botnet.

And, in fact, look at the bottom of the page, and you'll notice that whatever you post is copyrighted.

Although a really complete jackass shouldn't be wasting time here. That's what talk radio is for. Why be a jackass for free when you can make millions doing it?

Re:I'm trying to figure out who isn't press. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 9 months ago | (#44390205)

Being a complete jackass doesn't guarantee a person has ambition. I've known an awful lot of lazy jackasses.

Re:I'm trying to figure out who isn't press. (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 9 months ago | (#44391013)

Being a complete jackass doesn't guarantee a person has ambition. I've known an awful lot of lazy jackasses.

But you can be a fat, lazy, drug-sozzled idiot who spends 2 hours a day or so yakking on the radio and own a mansion in Palm Beach. We have living proof of that!

Re:I'm trying to figure out who isn't press. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 9 months ago | (#44391141)

We have several television channels that exist specifically so people with the same fine character traits on the opposite end of the political spectrum can do exactly the same thing, so I'm not going to join you in singling out a single radio host when there are so many worse people out there. Rev. Sharpton comes to mind.

send up the batsignal (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44383995)

"if he would agree to pay associated fees."

If this isn't a kickstarter that gets funded in 45 minutes, we are doomed as a nation. Finally, a way for Kickstarter to get back in the good graces of the internet after that whole "Veronica Mars" thing.

Re:send up the batsignal (1)

jxander (2605655) | about 9 months ago | (#44384185)

Only if the NSA is willing to sign, notarize, etc. a document clearly spelling out exactly how much is required, to whom it must be paid, when, etc.

Otherwise : I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it any further.

Re:send up the batsignal (2)

ramdac (302865) | about 9 months ago | (#44384419)

In my talks with Andy Baio, kickstarter is for creative projects only. This may have trouble qualifying.

- Jason Gulledge

Lucky? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 9 months ago | (#44384023)

It says a lot about the esteem our government is held in when requesting information about how our tax dollars are being spent, upon reply, is considered equivalent to winning the lottery. Bonus: The NSA will only give additional documentation without charge if you claim you're a journalist. Mere citizenship is not enough!

Re:Lucky? (4, Interesting)

SunTzuWarmaster (930093) | about 9 months ago | (#44384641)

They complied with the request, they sent him the information, and they told him that he could get more. As part of a FOIA request, the agency can charge a fee, http://www.foia.gov/faq.html#cost [foia.gov].

There is no initial fee required to submit a FOIA request, but the FOIA does provide for the charging of certain types of fees in some instances. For a typical requester the agency can charge for the time it takes to search for records and for duplication of those records. There is usually no charge for the first two hours of search time or for the first 100 pages of duplication.

They say that they will waive the fee if the information is in the public interest, and that the requester has no financial interest in the matter, http://www.foia.gov/faq.html#fees [foia.gov]. In short, this rule appears to exist to narrow the search.

You may request a waiver of fees. Under the FOIA fee waivers are limited to situations in which a requester can show that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.

These rules are quite reasonable and appear to exist so that you can't just say "Tell me everything that the NSA knows about semantic processing" and expect the taxpayer to foot the bill. His request appears to be of the "tell me everything about this project" nature, which can be a time-consuming effort. They prepared a 7-page manuscript for him, with his/our taxpayer dollars. I find their actions reasonable.

Re:Lucky? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 9 months ago | (#44384753)

Shouldn't that data be available by default? Why is every single person who asks on the hook for it? Shouldn't it be part of their mandate to provide free data access considering they are spending OUR money? Shouldnt part of their funding include public accessibility?

Re:Lucky? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384851)

This is a different discussion about Government transparency. You are asking what the Government should look like, rather than what it is. Should the Government:
a) be transparent in everything they do, posting many/most project details publicly.
b) provide regular reports to Congress, and taxpayers upon request
c) provide reports to Congress only
d) provide nothing

Keep in mind that being transparent requires additional action/money, and that our current system of laws has decided that impractical. The NSA complied with the current mandate (version b) for transparency in unclassified projects. Your future objections about what the Government should look like should be discussed with your taxpayers, congressmen, and representatives.

License? (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about 9 months ago | (#44384029)

If is open source, under which license? If is agpl, as is used on all of us, should it be released to public?

Anyway, is not that US government cares about intellectual property of others.

Re:License? (4, Informative)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 9 months ago | (#44384237)

Open source has another meaning in the intelligence community. Open source refers to unclassified information, such as the internet, newspapers, and other media. It's used as opposed to signals intelligence (SIGINT), human intelligence (HUMINT), etc. Often referred to as Open Source Intelligence (OSINT).

(IAA Intelligence Analyst)

Re:License? (1)

nsaspook (20301) | about 9 months ago | (#44387915)

Open source has another meaning in the intelligence community. Open source refers to unclassified information, such as the internet, newspapers, and other media. It's used as opposed to signals intelligence (SIGINT), human intelligence (HUMINT), etc. Often referred to as Open Source Intelligence (OSINT).

I worked with FBIS in the 70's down in Key West. Cuban TV was pretty cool and totally uncensored when they showed US movies. Fidel had a thing about 'Smokey and the Bandit".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Broadcast_Information_Service [wikipedia.org]

Re:License? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384333)

It is open source as in information that can be found publicly, not open source as in intellectual property. go look up OSINT

Open source spying program? (5, Funny)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 9 months ago | (#44384111)

I think RMS' head just exploded.

Re:Open source spying program? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384137)

This is actually pretty funny! Can RMS approve the code so we can get it into Fedora or Ubuntu finally!?

Re:Open source spying program? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384161)

Well at least something good came out of the NSA then...

Re:Open source spying program? (1)

Idetuxs (2456206) | about 9 months ago | (#44386653)

A couple years ago he came to my university to talk about, well.. free software. When he finished his presentation, he would take some questions from the audience to answer. The conference room was full, so It was great to hear doubts and questions answered by sir RMS.

So, I asked him something like "Is it okay to use free software for military purpose?". To my surprise he said yes.
Great Isn't it? If a missile is going to be conducted by software, it should be free software! privative software is EVIL!!

My opinion is that the developer of such software should refuse or not to do it according whit his/her principles and code of ethics. But dunno if it's more important the license of the program than it's true nature, which would be, for example, killing people.

Looks ancient. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44384351)

Looking at the size of the database and the length it holds the data, either this document is bullsh*t or this is a 2000 era system which is now probably magnitudes of size and what we are seeing is a very ancient document of the first version/design. Databases holding all that data upto 3 years and even a redacted database which holds some "unkown" data for upto 10 years back on a total footprint of 16GB and another 16GB for indexes? Who are you kidding.

Become a freelancer (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 9 months ago | (#44384437)

He should submit a snarky OpEd to the NY Times (or better yet The Register) detailing the hoops US citizens have to jump through to get information from their government. If sufficiently well written he would stand a good chance of getting published. As a now bona fide journalist, he could be granted the remaining information for further publication.

scintillating (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44385521)

what a complete waste of time

Not ANCHOVY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44385865)

I mean, it sounds kind of fishy, doesn't it?

20 year old document (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44389171)

The linked PDF from the NSA is from 1993 according to the metadata in the file. And the report was last updated in 2000. This is a 20 year old document. Imagine how much things have progressed since then with the ease of gathering the surveillance data over the web. Bet they won't be FOIA'ing around much with PRISM.

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