Change is coming in ways you cannot imagine
PREPARE TO ENDURE
So they DID go to multiple companies. Said so as SOON as I heard they'd "hit" Verizon. And my carried would be the NUMBER ONE to be hit.
Sick. Sad. Wrong on several levels, but especially the level of my Rights.
NSA stop. You have no right, no business, no mission and reason to collect data on everyone and "match the phone calls to bad guys".
You are supposed to FIND THE BAD GUYS FIRST and ASSUME THEY ARE INNOCENT then collect data on THEM and them alone.
Where are the bloody lawyers THIS time?
Where's the ACLU this time?
Where's the OUTRAGE over this?
NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program
Published: June 6, 2013
Through a top-secret program authorized by federal judges working under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the U.S. intelligence community can gain access to the servers of nine Internet companies for a wide range of digital data. Documents describing the previously undisclosed program, obtained by The Washington Post, show the breadth of U.S. electronic surveillance capabilities in the wake of a widely publicized controversy over warrantless wiretapping of U.S. domestic telephone communications in 2005. These slides, annotated by The Washington Post, represent a selection from the overall document, and certain portions are redacted. Read related article.
Introducing the program
A slide briefing analysts at the National Security Agency about the program touts its effectiveness and features the logos of the companies involved.
The program is called PRISM, after the prisms used to split light, which is used to carry information on fiber-optic cables.
This note indicates that the program is the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports.
The seal of
Special Source Operations, the NSA term for alliances with trusted U.S. companies.
Monitoring a target's communication
This diagram shows how the bulk of the world’s electronic communications move through companies based in the United States.
Providers and data
The PRISM program collects a wide range of data from the nine companies, although the details vary by provider.
This slide shows when each company joined the program, with Microsoft being the first, on Sept. 11, 2007, and Apple the most recent, in October 2012.
It all starts for one reason to get one group then it will just keep sliding to others. I can't imagine how one could defend themselves against this if they so help them made a mistake. You know they never make mistakes or bad calls if you get looped into something or somebody made it look like you were doing the searching on connecting to other people but you weren't I imagine you might be screwed.
Dangerous and Scary
NSA snoops, IRS dupes, Holder Loops and Obama Poops
After thirty seven years of working in, around and for the government I’ve decided that this is NOT what I signed up for.
We have Eric Holder lying to the public and Congress.
We have the National Security Agency spying on not just bad guys, but all of our emails, pictures, calls, or whatever other data you put out there. That’s great perhaps they will read THIS message.
We have the IRS preventing, in a most political manner, Conservative groups from getting their tax exempt status to PREVENT them from fighting the powers that be.
We have Obama. Need I say more?
Americans, it is time to STOP this intrusion into our privacy, it’s time to stop Obama from becoming a third world dictator, it’s time to stop the IRS and the Justice Department from over reaching, over arching and from being the “police arm” of the United States Government.
Now I know that there is one and only one job our government is SUPPOSED to be doing, and that is protecting this country from outside enemies and they AREN’T EVEN DOING THAT right. The military has been cut drastically (which China, Russia have grown, Iran is producing nuclear weapons, DPRK is producing nukes and the Muslim world is coddled). Our injured and wounded are treated like crap when they come back from “Fighting for Freedom”. That’s another joke.
They aren’t fighting for OUR freedoms any more, they are fighting (without their knowledge) for the Freedom of Big Government to continue it’s oppression of the people of the United States of the America. WE THE PEOPLE.
We are the people who OWN this country. The Government doesn’t “own” anything.
Get ON the phone with your Congress people and tell them to STOP THIS CRAP NOW or the American people will stop it.
This is NOT a police state, we do not live in 1960s Soviet Union – this is the United States of America.
To all you so-called Liberals out there; don’t sit on your asses any longer and whine about “Republicans” and “Tea Party”. We’re all the same. This is NOT a “Progressive” country (and Progressive is a Code Word for Communist) so get off your asses and get into this and STOP IT.
You Liberals seems to think your precious Freedom of Speech is protected while my Right to keep and bear arms is not. We’ve said over and over without the Second, you don’t get to keep the First. Are you starting to GRASP this yet? If you’re not, shut up, don’t vote, and don’t talk; go sit in your living room and watch television so you can be further brain washed.
If We the People ALLOW this to go any further you can kiss your precious Bill of Rights good bye completely.
Now, in case you really just don’t get this, let me explain something.
Pulling phone and data records (by the NSA) for basically EVERYONE in America is wrong on many, many levels. In the USA you are INNOCENT until proved Guilt.
Thus if they THINK you are guilty, great they can look at your stuff to prove your guilt.
They CAN NOT under any circumstances look at everyone’s records and dig through them until they FIND something that MIGHT be a pointer to guild. This is the Thought Police on a scale you can’t imagine.
Essentially what is happening here with the Justice Department (with the phone records) and the NSA (with all the other stuff) is that they are digging through every record looking for ANYTHING that might be “bad” (What ever their idea of “bad” is – and keep this part in mind). When they find something “bad” they connect some links, look at other records and make a “tree” of who is connected to whom, where they live, who they are, how much they make, what they look at on the Internet, who they call, what they buy and where they go for vacation.
There are those who would say “I’m not doing anything wrong, why should *I* care?” – and in truth in a perfect world with a perfect government and perfect people this would be right. But it’s blatantly obvious to anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave in the lower Himalayas that OUR government is less than perfect.
If on the other hand you’re like me, and millions of others and like “guns” and are a “conservative” and believe in smaller government, certain principles and just want to be left alone we become “targets” for an oppressive government looking at everything we do; and while what we do isn’t wrong, it could be considered “bad” by this particular Administration and obviously HAS been considered so. Look at all the groups shut down by the IRS because they were doing nothing more than what the Liberal groups were doing…. but were CONSERVATIVE, or TEA PARTY, or for LIBERTY, or SMALLER GOVERNMENT.
If 100% of the people out there are completely outraged over all of this, then the small percentage NOT outraged must be part of the problem.
It’s time for them to go. It’s time for Congressmen and women, President, Justice Department officials, IRS officials and anyone else who seems to think they “Control America” to get OUT of Office and be put in prison.
I’m calling for the arrest of all of those people. There are still a few good men and women in Congress and in the Government. They need to stand up, be heard and shut down the corruption and oppression in America.
This is NOT Russia. This is NOT China. Big Government is BAD, VERY VERY BAD. This has to stop.
June 7, 2013 - Posted by RickD | Big Government, FBI, Government Overreach, Justice Department, Second Amendment, Survival, The Throes of Tyranny, Trans-Asian Axis | Big Government, FBI, Government Overreach, IRS, Justice Department, NSA, Patriot Act, Politics, Preparedness, Second Amendment, Self Reliance, SHTF, Survival, Survival Skills, Throes of Tyranny, transasian axis, Unconstitutional
Good. Perhaps they should release MORE information now and shut this crap down:
US intelligence chief denounces release of information
Revealing huge surveillance programme risks damaging US national security, James Clapper says
Disclosure of the massive surveillance of phone records and internet communications risks “long-lasting and irreversible harm” to US national security, the director of national intelligence says.
Late on Thursday night US time James Clapper issued a bullet-point defence of the surveillance programs disclosed by the Guardian and the Washington Post, saying they contained “numerous safeguards that protect privacy and civil liberties”. To correct the “misleading impression left in the article” – apparently a reference to the Guardian’s original story – Clapper said he approved the declassification of his defence of the National Security Agency’s collection of every phone record from millions of Verizon customers.
“There is a robust legal regime in place governing all activities conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” Clapper wrote, “which ensures that those activities comply with the Constitution and laws and appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties. The program at issue here is conducted under authority granted by Congress and is authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). By statute, the Court is empowered to determine the legality of the program."
A judge for Fisa Court, as the surveillance body is known, reviewed and approved the surveillance. But critics have pointed out that the Fisa Court has almost never, in its 35-year history, rejected a US surveillance request – a perception of docility that prompted its presiding judge, Reggie Walton, to defend the court’s integrity in a statement to the Guardian on Thursday.
Clapper said the Fisa Court had established procedures preventing the government “indiscriminately sifting” through the collected phone records. “The court only allows the data to be queried when there is a reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organisation,” Clapper said. “Only a small fraction of the records are ever reviewed” by “specifically cleared counterterrorism personnel”.
At the same time, Clapper said national security required the NSA to collect all the Verizon subscriber data, even if not all the data would be analysed, and regardless of any evidence to link the phone records to crime, foreign espionage or terrorism. On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that other telecoms received similar orders from the government for the subscriber data.
“The collection is broad in scope,” Clapper wrote, “because more narrow collection would limit our ability to protect the nation from terrorist threats to the United States, as it may assist counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities.”
Yet the collection does not need to be tied to terrorism to occur – something that alarmed one Democrat senator, Jeff Merkley. He told the Guardian on Thursday that the sweeping “barn-door” collection appeared to violate the provision of the Patriot Act purportedly authorising it.
“We can't really propose changes to the law unless we know what the words mean as interpreted by the court,” Merkley said.
Clapper reiterated a point the Obama administration made on Thursday in its response to the Guardian’s story: the NSA’s dragnet of Verizon phone records, which the Fisa Court authorised until 19 July, does not include the “content of any communications or the identity of any subscriber”. Yet the so-called “metadata” – phone numbers, duration of calls – can be combined with publicly available information to easily determine subscriber identity. And a second NSA surveillance effort, disclosed by the Guardian on Thursday and codenamed PRISM, collects the content of communications provided through Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and five other large internet companies.
Clapper came under criticism on Thursday for statements to Democrat senator Ron Wyden that appeared to be contradicted by the revelations of the surveillance programs.
Asked in March whether “millions” of Americans had “any kind of [their] data” collected by the US government, Clapper replied: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly."
He has denied misleading Congress, but Clapper’s statement on Thursday suggested the collection of Americans’ phone records was deliberate, methodical and institutionalised.
“Discussing programs like this publicly,” Clapper concluded, “will have an impact on the behavior of our adversaries and make it more difficult for us to understand their intentions.” (RD: Yes it will. But it won't STOP the NSA from collecting on AMERICANS, which is the ultimate GOAL of this program).
Did Clapper lie to Congress?
posted at 9:11 am on June 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Earlier, I noted that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, offered a hasty and oddly-phrased defense of PRISM, the massive data surveillance system exposed by the Washington Post yesterday evening. Clapper claimed that FISA courts have imposed restrictions that “ensure that only non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about U.S. persons,” which doesn’t actually mean that the NSA isn’t accessing massive amounts of data from US persons while trying to find and target non-US persons. In fact, there would be almost impossible to do the latter without having access to everything.
Even before the exposure of PRISM, The Hill’s Carlo Munoz wondered if Clapper hadn’t lied to Congress in testimony three months ago, when he denied that the NSA was rummaging through American e-mails. That question may be more pertinent than Munoz thought (via Instapundit):
Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Clapper denied allegations by panel members the NSA conducted electronic surveillance of Americans on U.S. soil.Earlier in the day yesterday, Clapper tried to parse his denial:
“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” committee member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper during the March 12 hearing.
In response, Clapper replied quickly: “No, sir.”
“There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect [intelligence on Americans], but not wittingly,” the U.S. intelligence chief told Wyden and the rest of the committee.
That said, “particularly in the case of NSA and CIA, there are structures against tracking American citizens in the United States for foreign intelligence purposes,” Clapper added.
On Thursday, Clapper clarified his remarks during the March hearing, telling the National Journal his comments were referring to NSA or other intelligence agencies intentionally reviewing e-mails and other electronic communications.I wonder if he stands by that specific denial today? Perhaps he’ll claim that the qualifier of voyeuristically lets him off the hook. If PRISM accesses the entire output of nine major Internet providers for patterns to flag within content as the Washington Post reported, then the NSA does go through the e-mails of US citizens, even if they pledge to “minimize” its “acquisition, retention, and dissemination,” as Clapper claimed after the PRISM story broke. Whether or not the agency gets a voyeuristic thrill is hardly the issue for Americans who at least had some illusions that their government wasn’t snooping on their Internet communications without having a specific reason to do so.
“What I said was, ‘the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails.’ I stand by that,” Clapper said.
Now we have another of Barack Obama’s direct reports who appears to have either flat-out lied or attempted to at least mislead Congress while the legislative branch conducted its oversight responsibilities. If one wanted to look for patterns, there seems to be one developing at the highest ranks of this administration.
Mark Kirk to Holder: Tell the truth, has the DOJ been harvesting Congress’s phone records too?
posted at 2:41 pm on June 6, 2013 by Allahpundit
Via Joel Gehrke, I won’t spoil the surprise of Holder’s answer. I’ll simply amend something that I said last night on Twitter: After this exchange, we may be only two or three more scandals away from this guy’s job being in trouble.
At another point in today’s hearing, he said he won’t resign because there are still lots of “goals” he has as AG — which, given the news of the last few weeks, may be the single most terrifying soundbite to come out of Scandalmania. To cleanse your palate after you watch, read this short but pungent Onion piece that fills the gap between what Hopenchange promised circa 2008 and what it’s amounted to in practice. If you cringed at O’s insulting speech about how stricken his liberal conscience is by having to vaporize unidentified Pakistanis from the air, you’ll appreciate it.
Honestly, I HOPE they have looked at Congress' phone records. MAYBE someone will do something. Probably not though.
And who really gives a crap whether NSA was looking at some Congressman's phone records?
(Remember the reason we can't buy scanners with 900mhz on it? Because someone leaked a recording of a Congressman on a cellular phone years ago to the media and made him "look bad" so they made a LAW to prevent anyone from monitoring 900 Mhz calls... )
Shocking Report: Gov’t Also Tapping Servers of 9 Major Internet Companies to Collect Americans’ Documents, Photos, Audio
Jun. 6, 2013 6:47pm Becket Adams
The National Security Agency and FBI are interested in more than just your phone records — they are also interested in your audio, video, photographs, emails, documents, and connection logs, according to a bombshell report from The Washington Post.
Although the massive Internet surveillance program, code-named “PRISM,” reportedly began in 2007, we are only now learning about it because an anonymous intelligence officer apparently leaked the information to the press.
“Firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities, is what drove a career intelligence officer to provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials,” the report notes, “in order to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on privacy.”
“They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said.
PRISM collects data from nine tech companies. Here’s a slide from the leaked PowerPoint presentation. (WaPo)
But how, exactly, are the feds tapping directly into the central servers and getting their hands on online users’ information? With the assistance of major technology companies, of course:
The technology companies, which participate knowingly in PRISM operations, include most of the dominant global players of Silicon Valley.For some of these companies, they had no choice but to comply with the feds.
They are listed on a roster that bears their logos in order of entry into the program: “Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk,
AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”
“Formally, in exchange for immunity from lawsuits, companies like Yahoo and AOL are obliged accept a ‘directive’ from the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to open their servers to the FBI’s Data Intercept Technology Unit, which handles liaison to U.S. companies from the NSA,” the Post reports.
“In 2008, Congress gave the Justice Department authority … for a secret order from the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court to compel a reluctant company ‘to comply,’” it adds.
In short, the feds have strong-armed a few reluctant tech companies into playing along with the program.
“In practice, there is room for a company to maneuver, delay or resist. When a clandestine intelligence program meets a highly regulated industry,” the report continues, “neither side wants to risk a public fight.”
“The engineering problems are so immense, in systems of such complexity and frequent change, that the FBI and NSA would be hard pressed to build in back doors without active help from each company.”
Microsoft became PRISM’s first corporate partner in 2007, according to the leaked 41-slide PowerPoint presentation, followed shortly by Yahoo, Google, and Facebook. Apple didn’t join until after the death of Steve Jobs, five years after the start of PRISM.
Unsurprisingly, spokesmen for the major tech companies deny any knowledge of PRISM.
Here’s what Google said:
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Apple told The Guardian that he had “never heard” of PRISM.
Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government “back door” into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.
An official statement released by Facebook claims the social networking sight has never given the feds “direct” access to its servers (the word “direct” may be key here).
This slide shows the timeline of tech giants signing on with the PRISM surveillance program. (WaPo)
The program is so secretive that the members of Congress who do know about it are apparently unable comment on it due to their oaths of office.
Here’s how The Washington Post reports the story:
An internal presentation on the Silicon Valley operation, intended for senior analysts in the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate, described the new tool as the most prolific contributor to the President’s Daily Brief, which cited PRISM data in 1,477 articles last year.Under President Obama, the program has allegedly enjoyed “exponential growth” since its founding in 2007 when then-Senator Obama routinely criticized President George W. Bush’s surveillance programs.
According to the briefing slides, obtained by The Washington Post, “NSA reporting increasingly relies on PRISM” as its leading source of raw material, accounting for nearly 1 in 7 intelligence reports.
That is a remarkable figure in an agency that measures annual intake in the trillions of communications. It is all the more striking because the NSA, whose lawful mission is foreign intelligence, is reaching deep inside the machinery of American companies that host hundreds of millions of American-held accounts on American soil.
“The PRISM program is not a dragnet, exactly. From inside a company’s data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes, but under current rules the agency does not try to collect it all,” the report notes.
“Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade key in ‘selectors,’ or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s ‘foreignness.’”
“That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by the Post instruct new analysts to submit accidentally collected U.S. content for a quarterly report, ‘but it’s nothing to worry about,’” it adds.
But here are some really frightening details:
Even when the system works just as advertised, with no American singled out for targeting, the NSA routinely collects a great deal of American content. That is described as “incidental,” and it is inherent in contact chaining, one of the basic tools of the trade. To collect on a suspected spy or foreign terrorist means, at minimum, that everyone in the suspect’s inbox or outbox is swept in. Intelligence analysts are typically taught to chain through contacts two “hops” out from their target, which increases “incidental collection” exponentially.Click here to read the full report and here to see portions of the leaked PowerPoint presentation.
Change is coming in ways you cannot imagine
PREPARE TO ENDURE
Verizon Communications to Release Big Brother’s Phone Records
Added by gricelda7 on June 6, 2013.
Saved under Technology, U.S.
The collection of phone records from cellular giant Verizon was authorized by the government under the Patriot Act passed after 911. The National Security Agency is indiscriminately collecting American citizens’ phone records under a top secret court order. Civil liberties groups are outraged at such blatant disregard of individual’s rights by the U.S. government.
The FBI sought an order to require Verizon to provide detailed phone records of millions of Americans’ communication transactions. The order compels a subsidiary of the phone company to provide the NSA with records of phone calls from U.S. customers within the country and from foreign locations. Spokespersons for Verizon and the FBI declined to comment on the order.
The order given upon a secret court order, “does not allow the government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls,” A senior Obama administration official commented. It is believed the focus is on attaining metadata. Metadata provides information about other data which is often interlinked in certain circumstances. Specific information concerning the application of the order was not made readily available to the media or the public.
Many civil liberties groups have suspected that the U.S. was given sweeping surveillance authority over commercial carriers with the passing of the Patriot Act. The legislation laid the ground work for inventive measures in information gathering of private citizens. The 911 attacks generated the legislation in fear of future supposed occurrences.
A law expert who spoke on anonymity stated the order appears to be a renewal of a similar order first issued by the same court in 2006. The order is reissued routinely every 90 days and that it is not related to any particular investigation by the FBI or any other agency. White house officials have been mute concerning the particulars of past practices concerning the order.
Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice stated, “This suggests that the government has been compiling a comprehensive record of Americans’ associations and possibly even their whereabouts.” She appeared outraged at such postulations related to the issue.
Obama officials contend that information obtained is for the good of national security and best interest of Americans. Officials further state all three branches of the government is regularly and fully briefed on the use of information gathered. It is believed that these intelligence steps are a critical tool in protecting the public against terrorist threats to the nation.
We the PEOPLE DEMAND immediate release of all phone calls records for the President of the United States, the head of the NSA and all of his subordinates, the records for all Congress members, Senate and House, and all records for every SES in the US Government to the public domain so that we can examine them to see what other scandals are hidden among the records.
by a Washington Post report.The U.K. government may have been complicit in secretly gathering intelligence from Internet companies, which were named on Thursday
According to The Guardian, which has covered the brewing and ever-developing privacy saga extensively, the ability for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) — the U.K. government's electronic intercepts and listening station — to tap directly into the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) PRISM database, may bypass mutual intelligence and information sharing treaties.
NSA 'top secret' spying order affects millions of Americans: FAQ
The London, U.K.-based newspaper obtained documents allegedly confirming the suspicions. In the papers, the NSA included "special programmes for GCHQ exist for focused [PRISM] processing."
The British spy agency generated 197 intelligence reports from Prism in the year through May 2102, the documents state. This is a 137 percent increase in reports year-over-year. Such reports are then passed to the other intelligence agencies, MI5 or SIS (MI6).
The U.S.-led PRISM program allegedly taps into the databases of major technology companies — Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple, and video chat room community PalTalk were named — that allows the NSA to data mine and snoop through vast amounts of citizens' private and sensitive data.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmed the existence of the program on Thursday night.
He said: "Information collected under this programme is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats."
According to the leaked training documents, these companies were complicit in the acts — though it's not clear if they were legally bound to.
Obama's legacy: Domestic spying scandal that could prove greater than Watergate, WikiLeaks
Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and others have strenuously denied the claims and reiterated their stance towards maintaining user and customer privacy.
The U.K. government, an ally in intelligence sharing, reportedly tapped into the PRISM system directly, bypassing the requirement to go through "mutual legal assistance" (MLA) requests, in which a state formally asks another government for assistance in a criminal or terrorism case.
MLA requests are sent from the U.K. to the U.S. Justice Department, which are then either turned into subpoenas or search warrants served to companies based in the U.S. In some cases, some companies will comply with a request that hasn't been passed through the courts.
With around 3,000 requests made to Google alone in 2012, the MLA request is costly and time consuming. Using PRISM would allow the U.K. to process requests in bulk extremely quickly.
A Whitehall source speaking by phone declined to comment off the record. According to The Guardian, GCHQ said it declined to comment on intelligence matters.
Mr. President the NSA should NOT be looking at my metadata, or anything else related to me. I'm NOT a criminal, and I have the right to free association, and will talk to anyone I like, as long as I like about anything I like. I am not a criminal and I have a RIGHT not to be snooped on, regardless if you are listening to phone calls or looking at my bloody phone records, my internet connections, searches on Google or elsewhere and I have a RIGHT NOT to be bothered by the government.
I'm not alone, there are 300 million of us that have the same right. Your government workers are government workers, and regardless of HOW "professional" they might be, if they are LOOKING at records of innocent AMERICANS they ARE SNOOPING.
You can NOT justify this by any means and blaming Bush for it is the most childish thing you did today.
Obama: 'Nobody is listening to your telephone calls'
President Obama explains the NSA's secret surveillance program at an event in California, reassuring the public, "When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That's not what this program's about."
By Matthew DeLuca, Staff Writer, NBC News
President Obama defended what he called long-standing Internet and phone monitoring programs as valuable tools to fight terrorism, saying that congressional lawmakers have been repeatedly briefed on the program and that federal judges oversee the program “throughout.”
“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Obama said. “That’s not what this program is about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at the numbers and durations of calls. They’re not looking at names and they’re not looking at content, but sifting through this so-called meta data, they may identify potential leads with respect to people that might engage in terrorism.”
He said the programs have been subject to congressional and judicial review and approval.
“I think on balance we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about,” Obama said.
The president’s remarks came one day after the revelation of two secret programs that allow government intelligence agencies to gather information on domestic phone and Internet usage by American citizens.
“I don’t welcome leaks, because there’s a reason why these programs are classified,” Obama said, regarding the unauthorized release of confidential documents such as the one that led to the initial Guardian report on the phone records program.
The president made the comments following a statement on the Affordable Care Act in San Jose, Calif. The president is scheduled to begin a two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California later on Friday.
According to the Washington Post, Internet companies including Google and Facebook are denying involvement in National Security Agency programs, named PRISM and BLARNEY, which allow the government to look at archived data and information as it is being transmitted. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.
On Thursday, the United States’ top intelligence official declassified details of the top secret phone records program after it was revealed, while also blasting the leak.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper took the step in a statement issued on Thursday night, after media reports revealed the programs that have been used to collect the phone records of Americans and monitor Internet use.
Referencing a report that first appeared in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Clapper said that the “unauthorized disclosure of a top secret U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.”
Clapper said in the statement that he was declassifying some details of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to “provide a more thorough understanding of the program.”
“Although this program has been properly classified, the leak of one order, without any context, has created a misleading impression of how it operates. Accordingly, we have determined to declassify certain limited information about this program,” Clapper said.
The program does not allow the government to surveil the contents of phone calls made by Americans, but what is referenced in the order published by the Guardian as “telephony metadata” includes the sending and receiving telephone numbers and the length of the call, according to Clapper.
“The collection is broad in scope because more narrow collection would limit our ability to screen for and identify terrorism-related communications,” Clapper said. “Acquiring this information allows us to make connections related to terrorist activities over time. The FISA court specifically approved this method of collection as lawful, subject to stringent restrictions.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday that government powers under the Patriot Act are reviewed by a “robust legal regime.”
Clapper also said that members of Congress, some of whom reacted with indignation to media reports about the program on Thursday, had been “fully and repeatedly briefed” on the program described in the Guardian article. Similar statements about Congressmembers’ knowledge of the program were made by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Thursday.
Obama administration on defensive over surveillance activity
WASHINGTON | Fri Jun 7, 2013 12:43pm EDT
(Reuters) - Reports of sweeping U.S. government surveillance of Americans' phone and Internet activity put the Obama administration on the defensive on Friday, adding pressure on President Barack Obama to explain why such tactics are necessary.
The Washington Post reported late on Thursday that federal authorities have been tapping into the central servers of companies including Google, Apple and Facebook to gain access to emails, photos and other files allowing analysts to track a person's movements and contacts.
That added to privacy concerns sparked by a report in Britain's Guardian newspaper that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been mining phone records from millions of customers of a subsidiary of Verizon Communications.
Obama, who pledged to run the most transparent administration in U.S. history, did not mention the surveillance furor in two meetings with supporters on Thursday evening.
He may be forced to broach the subject during his meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a California summit on Friday, in which U.S. concerns about alleged Chinese hacking of American secrets were expected to be high on the agenda.
Members of the U.S. Congress are routinely briefed by the NSA on secret surveillance programs, but it is not yet clear how much they knew about the widespread surveillance of private Internet activity reported by the Washington Post.
Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, said on Friday he thought the administration had good intentions but stressed the program was "just too broad an over-reach."
"I think there ought to be some connection to suspicion, otherwise we can say that any intrusion on all of our privacy is justified for the times that we will catch the few terrorists," Waxman told MSNBC. "Good intentions are not enough. We need protections against government intrusion that goes too far."
"PRISM" SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM
The Washington Post said the surveillance program involving firms including Microsoft, Skype and YouTube, code-named PRISM and established under Republican President George W. Bush in 2007, had seen "exponential growth" under the Democratic Obama administration.
It said the NSA increasingly relies on PRISM as a source of raw material for its intelligence reports.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said the report contained "numerous inaccuracies," and some of the companies identified by the Washington Post denied that the NSA and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) had "direct access" to their central servers.
Microsoft said it does not voluntarily participate in government data collection and only complies "with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers.
Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor at the University of California Irvine, said the program was "deeply disturbing" and went beyond what was constitutionally acceptable.
"It is a huge gathering of information by the federal government. The argument that it protects national security is unpersuasive," he said.
The White House sought on Thursday to defend the National Security Agency's secret collection of telephone records from millions of Americans as a "critical tool" to prevent attacks. National Intelligence Director James Clapper said the data was only used in specific investigations of non-U.S. citizens.
(COLUMN - Why the government wants your metadata.
(This story was refiled to fix spelling to "broach" from "breach" in paragraph 5)
(Reporting By Laura MacInnis; Editing by Karey Van Hall and David Storey)
No more obfuscation. We will not accept it.
This "not listening to your phone calls" is another obfuscation. He is trying to deny there's spying going on without saying it.
If they are doing a BROAD LOOK at everyone's data, IT IS SPYING. Period. The issue isn't "listening in", it's SNOOPING. Do NOT let the media, Obama, his administration or anyone else make you take your eyes off the ball on this one.
Phone Surveillance Defies Obama Campaign Civil Liberty Pledge
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis
June 07, 2013
The news that Barack Obama continued the Bush administration’s domestic telephone surveillance program is sparking new doubts about a president who campaigned as a champion of civil liberties and greater transparency.
“It’s remarkable that the man who rode his way to the presidency by suggesting George Bush’s anti-terrorism policies violated the Constitution is emulating those policies himself,” said Ari Fleischer, the former president’s press secretary. “It’s as if George Bush had gotten a fourth term.”
Former Vice President Al Gore took to Twitter to say: “Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?”
The reactions were prompted by a report that the Federal Bureau of Investigation got a secret court order telling U.S.- based Verizon Communications Inc (VZ). to furnish the National Security Agency with data about domestic calls and those between the U.S. and other countries.
The disclosure, first made by the British newspaper the Guardian, sent the White House into damage-control mode once again, burying Obama’s education message at a North Carolina event. It also risked further undermining public confidence in his administration at a time when Obama is pressing for a revision of immigration laws that puts the government in charge of securing the border and creating a new program to enroll undocumented immigrants already here.
Even as the bipartisan leadership of intelligence committees defended the program as essential to national security, some Democrats said it’s raising potentially harmful concerns about the Obama administration’s trustworthiness. That is particularly so, they said, when viewed in light of recent disclosures that the Internal Revenue Service targeted small-government groups for scrutiny and the Justice Department conducted surveillance on Associated Press and Fox News journalists.
“It’s just one event after another, each creating doubts and uncertainty about the core principles of this administration, and that’s what’s so dangerous about this,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart of the Washington-based Hart Research Associates.
“It’s a sense of government out of control,” Hart said, adding that it could boost the Republican-aligned Tea Party that advocates for smaller government: “They may be crazy, but they have a point.”
The Washington Post reported yesterday that the government has access to internal data at nine Internet companies and is culling photographs, e-mails, audio and videos. The program, initiated in 2007, is code-named PRISM, the newspaper said.
Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, one of the Tea Party’s most popular figures and a presidential prospect for 2016, was among the most vocal in his criticism of Obama about the surveillance program yesterday, calling it an “astounding assault on the Constitution.”
Democrats were no more forgiving. “I hope this story will force a real debate about the government’s domestic surveillance authorities,” said Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat. “The American people have a right to know whether their government thinks that the sweeping, dragnet surveillance that has been alleged in this story is allowed under the law and whether it is actually being conducted.”
It’s a debate that White House says the president is ready to have.
“The president welcomes the discussion of the tradeoffs between privacy and security,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters yesterday.
Calls for Change
Top Republican and Democratic intelligence leaders in Congress said they were aware of the administration’s actions and that they considered them appropriate. That didn’t quell calls for change.
“This latest news disclosure gives us a challenge and an opportunity” to re-evaluate whether the limitations in U.S. law are sufficient, Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, said at a Capitol Hill news conference. He called it “an invitation to renew that conversation” about revisiting the Patriot Act, which was passed in 2001 and authorized the secret telephone-monitoring program.
Beyond the immediate furor, the episode was yet another indication that when it comes to national security and thwarting terrorist attacks, Obama has reached some of the same conclusions that Bush did.
“There isn’t as much difference as the president originally suggested there would be -- that’s not right or wrong, it’s just a fact,” former Republican Governor Tom Kean of New Jersey, who was co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, said in an interview. For instance, he said neither Bush nor Obama followed through on the commission’s recommendation to create a civil liberties panel at the White House that would weigh in on issues such as the Verizon order.
What has changed, Kean said, is that as a Democrat, Obama has faced less scrutiny for his counter-terrorism policies than did his Republican predecessor.
“It’s much easier for a Democratic president, because many of the civil libertarians are Democrats -- although we have found some libertarians now on the Republican side who are willing to question these things,” Kean said.
Obama’s administration has acknowledged carrying out targeted killings with U.S. drones and, although it has repeatedly promised to close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it has yet to accomplish that goal. The White House also routinely sought to block lawsuits against the government by claiming it had to withhold “state secrets” to protect national security.
It isn’t the posture the president struck as a presidential candidate, including when he argued it was an abuse of powers under the PATRIOT Act to spy on Americans.
Bush “puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom,” Obama said in an Aug. 1, 2007 speech in Washington.
“We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary,” Obama added. “This administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not. There are no short-cuts to protecting America.”
In his 2008 campaign literature on terrorism, he pledged as president to revisit the PATRIOT Act to ensure “real and robust oversight.” The document said, “There is no reason we cannot fight terrorism while maintaining our civil liberties.”
Yesterday, prominent Democrats and Republicans suggested Obama has himself been failing to strike that balance.
Former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, a leading PATRIOT Act foe when he was in Congress, said the news suggests the government could be using U.S. intelligence surveillance law “in an indiscriminate way that does not balance our legitimate concerns of national security with the necessity to preserve our fundamental civil rights.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Hirschfeld Davis in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at email@example.com
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