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NSA Makes Final Push To Retain Most Mass Surveillance Powers
 

NSA Makes Final Push To Retain Most Mass Surveillance Powers

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The National Security Agency and its allies are making a final public push to retain as much of ...

The National Security Agency and its allies are making a final public push to retain as much of
their controversial mass surveillance powers as they can, before President Barack Obama’s
forthcoming announcement about the future scope of US surveillance.

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    NSA Makes Final Push To Retain Most Mass Surveillance Powers NSA Makes Final Push To Retain Most Mass Surveillance Powers Document Transcript

    • NSA Makes Final Push To Retain Most Mass Surveillance Powers Spencer Ackerman London Guardian January 11, 2014 The National Security Agency and its allies are making a final public push to retain as much of their controversial mass surveillance powers as they can, before President Barack Obama’s forthcoming announcement about the future scope of US surveillance. Security officials concede a need for greater transparency and for adjustments to broad domestic intelligence collection, but argue that limiting the scope of such collection would put the country at greater risk of terrorist attacks. In a lengthy interview that aired on Friday on National Public Radio (NPR), the NSA’s top civilian official, the outgoing deputy director John C Inglis, said that the agency would cautiously welcome a public advocate to argue for privacy interests before the secret court which oversees surveillance. Such a measure is being promoted by some of the agency’s strongest legislative critics. Inglis also suggested that the so-called Fisa court have “somebody who would assist them with matters of interpreting technology”, which also has the potential to recast the court’s relationship with the NSA. Currently, the judges on the panel rely entirely on the NSA to explain how the agency’s complex technological systems work, an institutional disadvantage that judges have highlighted in secret rulings bemoaning “systemic” misrepresentations by the powerful surveillance agency. But security officials are arguing strongly against curtailing the substance of domestic surveillance activities. While Inglis conceded in his NPR interview that at most one terrorist attack might have been foiled by NSA’s bulk collection of all American phone data – a case in San Diego that involved a money transfer from four men to al-Shabaab in Somalia – he described it as an “insurance policy” against future acts of
    • terrorism. “I'm not going to give that insurance policy up, because it's a necessary component to cover a seam that I can't otherwise cover,” Inglis said. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday that Obama will unveil his surveillance proposals on January 17. Expectations are high that Obama will follow the recommendations of a review group he set up, which suggested that the responsibility for the bulk domestic call records database should be transferred from the NSA to a third party, such as the phone companies. But Inglis said that would not necessarily mean the end of the program, provided any dataset held outside of NSA had “sufficient depth” and “sufficient breadth” over “the whole haystack” of call records going back for years, and provided “sufficient agility” to the NSA to search it. That is the subject of a heated dispute between the NSA and privacy advocates at the White House this week. Civil libertarian groups want to ensure that the legal standards for NSA to access phone records are heightened to prevent Americans not suspected of wrongdoing from being caught in surveillance dragnets, and that companies are not required to store data for longer than the 18-month average maximum in the industry. On Thursday afternoon, a coalition of civil liberties groups met the White House counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler. Michelle Richardson of the American Civil Liberties Union, who was at the meeting, said the coalition’s main message to the White House was to end bulk domestic phone collection, rather than repackage it. “Bulk collection is the big one, that’s the big question: whether you continue to spy on Americans or not,” Richardson said after the meeting. “You have to resolve that. That’s all people will remember.” Inglis was bolstered on Thursday by the new FBI director James Comey, who said he opposed curbing the bureau’s power to collect information from businesses through a non-judicial subpoena called a national security letter. The use of national security letters, which occurs in secret, came under sharp criticism from Obama’s surveillance review panel, which advocated judicial approval over them. Comey told reporters that would make it harder for his agency to investigate national security issues than conduct bank fraud investigations. Surveillance skeptics who left meetings at the White House this week said they believe deliberations are still ongoing internally about how far back to scale US surveillance. Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat who sits on the Senate intelligence committee, told the Guardian on Thursday the “debate is clearly fluid”. On Friday, Wyden and two intelligence committee colleagues, the Democrats Mark Udall and Martin Heinrich, released a letter to Obama in which they urged him to definitively end bulk surveillance on domestic phone data. “While it might be more convenient for the NSA to collect phone records in bulk rather than directing individual queries to the various phone companies, convenience alone does not justify the collection of the personal information of millions of ordinary, innocent Americans, especially when the same or more information can be obtained in a timely manner using less intrusive methods,” the three senators wrote. Obama’s White House staff were meeting representatives of tech firms on Friday, concluding a packed week packed of meetings with surveillance stakeholders. Even as Inglis, who will soon retire, argued against the restriction of his agency’s powers, he said the burden will be on the NSA to be more forthcoming about what its activities actually are.
    • “We have to actually kind of be more transparent going forward, so the American public understands what we do, why we do it, how we do it,” he told NPR. Edward Snowden, v 1.0: NSA Whistleblower William Binney On Government Spying Nick Gillespie & Amanda Winkler reason.com January 11, 2014 “Where I see it going is toward a totalitarian state. You’ve got the NSA doing all this collecting of material on all of its citizens – that’s what the S.S., the Gestapo, the Stasi, the KGB, and the MVD did,” says William Binney referencing the National Security Agency’s (NSA) collection of personal data on American citizens. Binney, a former intelligence official, left the NSA in 2001 after more than 30 years with the agency. Since resigning, he has gone before Congress and the Department of Defense in an effort to bring accountability to the NSA. For the full 50 minute interview, click here Edward Snowden, v 1.0: NSA Whistleblower William Binney on Government Spying VIDEO BELOW http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVqrB7T0CbI
    • Lawmakers Press DOJ For Aaron Swartz Files Julian Hattem The Hill January 11, 2014 A bipartisan group of lawmakers is demanding answers from Attorney General Eric Holder about the Justice Department’s treatment of the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz. Eight lawmakers from both chambers wrote to Holder on Friday ahead of the anniversary of the programmer’s death and charged that the department has not been forthcoming about its treatment of Swartz. They called the late programmer a “brilliant technologist and activist” and demanded that Holder explain how the department’s conduct toward Swartz was “appropriate,” as a U.S. attorney's office has described it. The lawmakers said they asked for details about the department's treatment a year ago but have not gotten answers. “We have received no such information, not even the sentencing memoranda that surely were prepared in a case such as this,” they wrote. Swartz committed suicide a year ago Saturday, at the age of 26. At the time, the Justice Department had charged him with wire fraud, computer fraud and other charges for breaking into a computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloading about 4.8 million documents from the academic service JSTOR. He faced up to 35 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines. His family blamed overzealous prosecutors for Swartz’s decision to take his own life. In their letter on Friday, the lawmakers said that they “respectfully disagree” with Holder's assertion that the case represented “a good use of prosecutorial discretion.” As a teenager, Swartz helped create RSS, a publishing technology that lets people subscribe to updates on blogs or news sites. He also founded a company that merged with the social media site Reddit and created the activist mobilization site Demand Progress. The eight lawmakers signing Friday’s letter were Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.). Lawmakers press DOJ for Aaron Swartz files VIDEO BELOW http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/195145-lawmakers-press-doj-on-aaron-swartz INFOWARS.COM BECAUSE THERE'S A WAR ON FOR YOUR MIND