NSA claims ability to ensure no illegal spying (Update)

Jun 09, 2013 by Associated Press
In this Sept. 23, 2010, file photo Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, then-commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, testifies about cyberspace operations during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. "More times than we can count, we've made history, without history even knowing we were there," reads a quote on the National Security Agency's web page by current NSA director Alexander. The NSA's experts include mathematicians, and cryptologists, who do everything from breaking codes to learning and translating multiple foreign languages, as well as computer hackers who engage in offensive attacks. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

The supersecret agency with the power and legal authority to gather electronic communications worldwide to hunt U.S. adversaries says it has the technical know-how to ensure it's not illegally spying on Americans.

But mistakes do happen in data-sifting conducted mostly by machines, not humans. Sometimes, former intelligence officials say, that means intelligence agencies destroy material they should not have seen, passed to them by the National Security Agency.

The eavesdropping, code-breaking agency is fighting back after last week's revelations in the media of two surveillance programs that have raised privacy concerns.

One program collects hundreds of millions of U.S. phone records. The second gathers audio, video, email, photographic and Internet search usage of foreign nationals overseas, and probably some Americans in the process, who use major providers such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Yahoo.

The programs were first reported in a series of articles published by The Guardian newspaper. On Sunday it identified Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old American who works as contract employee at the NSA, as the source of the disclosures. The newspaper said it was publishing the identity of Snowden, a former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, at his request.

"I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he was quoted as saying.

The NSA filed a criminal report with the Justice Department earlier this week in relation to the leaks. The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has stated repeatedly that the NSA's programs do not target U.S. citizens and that the agency uses a process known as "minimization" to sift out data from "any U.S. persons whose communications might be incidentally intercepted."

His statement Saturday said that "the dissemination of information about U.S. persons is expressly prohibited unless it is necessary to understand foreign intelligence ... is evidence of a crime or indicates a threat of death or serious bodily harm."

While the NSA has deferred any public comment to Clapper, it did offer an internal article written by director of compliance John DeLong, who is in charge of making sure the NSA protects Americans' privacy.

DeLong writes that privacy protections are being written into the technology that sifts the information, "which allows us to augment—not wholly replace—human safeguards."

The NSA also uses "technology to record and review our activities. ... Sometimes, where appropriate, we even embed legal and policy guidance directly into our IT architecture."

What that means is that the data sifting is mostly done not by humans, but by computers, following complicated algorithms telling them what to look for and who has a right to see it, according to Ronald Marks, a former CIA official.

"Through software, you can search for key words and key phrases linking a communication to a particular group or individual that would fire it off to individual agencies that have interest in it," just like Amazon or Google scans millions of emails and purchases to track consumer preferences, explained Marks, author of "Spying in America in the Post 9/11 World."

Detailed algorithms try to determine whether something is U.S. citizen-related or not. "It shows analysts, 'we've got a U.S. citizen here, so we've got to be careful with it,'" he said.

But the process isn't perfect, and sometimes what should be private information reaches agencies not authorized to see it.

In that case, there are policies in place to "destroy that kind of information not file it or keep it if an American's name coincidentally or serendipitously comes up," John Negroponte, the first director of national intelligence, said in an Associated Press interview Friday.

Marks said that "when information gets sent to the CIA that shouldn't, it gets destroyed, and a note sent back to NSA saying, 'You shouldn't have sent that.'" He added, "Mistakes get made, but my own experience on the inside of it is, they tend to be really careful about it."

Michael Hayden, who led both the NSA and CIA, said the government doesn't touch the phone records unless an individual is connected to terrorism.

He described on "Fox News Sunday" how it works if a U.S. intelligence agent seized a cellphone at a terrorist hideout in Pakistan.

"It's the first time you've ever had that cellphone number. You know it's related to terrorism because of the pocket litter you've gotten in that operation," Hayden said. "You simply ask that database, 'Hey, any of you phone numbers in there ever talked to this phone number in Waziristan?'"

Hayden said the Obama administration had expanded the scope of the surveillance, but that oversight by lawmakers and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court also had grown because of changes in the law.

U.S. lawmakers who appeared on the Sunday television talk shows argued the pros and cons of the surveillance programs.

The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, told ABC that the phone program had helped disrupt a 2009 plot to bomb New York City's subways and played a role in the case against an American who scouted targets in Mumbai, India, before a deadly terrorist attack there in 2008.

Democratic Sen. Mark Udall said on CNN that he was not "convinced that the collection of this vast trove of data has led to disruption of plots" against the U.S. He also said he expects "the government to protect my privacy, and it feels like that isn't what's been happening."

The NSA was founded in 1952, but only years later was it publicly acknowledged, which explains the nickname, "No Such Agency."

The agency also includes the Central Security Service, the military arm of code-breakers who work jointly with the agency. Their tightly guarded compound requires the highest of clearances to enter and is equipped with electronic means to ward off an attack by hackers.

Other NSA facilities in Georgia, Texas, Colorado and Hawaii duplicate much of the headquarters' brain and computer power in case a terrorist attack takes out the main location, though each focuses on a different part of the globe.

A new million-square-foot (90,000-square-meter) storage facility in Utah will give the agency untold additional capacity to store the massive amounts of data it collects, as well as adding to its analytical capability.

"NSA is the elephant of the U.S. intelligence community, the biggest organization by far with the most capability and (literally) the most memory," said former senior CIA official Bruce Riedel, who now runs the Brookings Intelligence Project.

NSA's experts include mathematicians and cryptologists, a term that means everything from breaking codes to learning and translating multiple foreign languages. There also are computer hackers who engage in offensive attacks like the one the U.S. and Israel are widely believed to have been part of, planting the Stuxnet virus into Iranian nuclear hardware, damaging Iran's nuclear development program in 2010.

NSA workers are notoriously secretive. They're known for keeping their families in the dark about what they do, including their hunt for terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. NSA code-breakers were an essential part of the team that tracked down bin Laden at a compound in Pakistan in 2011.

Their mission tracking al-Qaida and related terrorist groups continues, with NSA analysts and operators sent out to every conflict zone and overseas U.S. post, in addition to surveillance and analysis conducted at headquarters outside Washington.

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User comments : 25

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freethinking
1.8 / 5 (16) Jun 09, 2013
If you believe the NSA, you'll believe Obama had nothing to do with the IRS going after conservative groups.

Obama new slogan. "I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing!"
Neinsense99
3 / 5 (16) Jun 09, 2013
If you believe the NSA, you'll believe Obama had nothing to do with the IRS going after conservative groups.

Obama new slogan. "I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing!"


Roughly a third of the questioned groups were obviously NON-conservative, including some 'leftist' outfits, and the 'targeting' usually only meant a bit of delay in approval. It's another Faux News project in selective molehill > mountain conversion.
VendicarE
3.5 / 5 (11) Jun 09, 2013
Over the years I have personally seen hundreds of Tea Tards publicly proclaim that they refuse to pay their taxes and have no obligation to do so.

I can think of no better market to target for investigation of tax evasion than those who publicly proclaim that they don't pay taxes.

FreeTard can't understand this logic.

There are many simple things that FreeTards are incapable of understanding.

He should flag down an 8 year old and have the child explain the logic to him in detail.
Shootist
1.4 / 5 (11) Jun 09, 2013
Over the years I have personally seen hundreds of Tea Tards publicly proclaim that they refuse to pay their taxes and have no obligation to do so.


Are you stupid or do you just say stupid things? The "tea party" is something like 3 years old. There is no "over the years".

Of course if you are, as I suspect, 16 or so, then a political organization that has been around since you were 13 would seem like a lifetime, I suppose.
VendicarE
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 09, 2013
"Are you stupid or do you just say stupid things? The "tea party" is something like 3 years old" - ShooTard

There is no official "tea party" in America. hence it can't be "something like 3 years old".

i am referring of course to TeaTards of course, who now typically identify themselves with their non-existent party.

And yes, I have personally seen hundreds of them proclaiming their violation of U.S. tax laws.

Any tax auditor who is remotely competent would look at those Tea Bag Traitors and put them on his list of people and groups to Audit.

Are you as confused about that as FreeTard is?
ScooterG
1.4 / 5 (10) Jun 09, 2013
Don't be surprised if the illegal spying leak was not a part of an orchestrated government plan. Just like the wikileaks, the irs shame, the kenyan potus, the blue dress - the rule of law will be overlooked by our "do-nothing but make noise" Congress..
beleg
2 / 5 (4) Jun 10, 2013
"...orchestrated..."-S
Once you have the instrument you are free to improvise.

Your ABCs are like instruments too.

All classical beomces predictable.
geokstr
1.7 / 5 (11) Jun 10, 2013
Roughly a third of the questioned groups were obviously NON-conservative, including some 'leftist' outfits, and the 'targeting' usually only meant a bit of delay in approval. It's another Faux News project in selective molehill > mountain conversion.


If that's true, where are the leftist orgs screaming that their apps were held up for years, the IRS demanding their donor lists, their emails, the activities of their children, ad nauseum? If there was even one such group, that's all you would be hearing on the "news", because in the warped leftist mind, one instance would be equal to the hundreds on the right.

The purpose of this was to prevent the right from organizing for the 2012 election, the active voter suppression that the left is always accusing the right of. This harassment started in mid-2010, and not one conservative group was approved until after the 2012 election. What a coincidence - not.

Using the IRS was one of the main charges Nixon, which never even happened.
geokstr
1.8 / 5 (10) Jun 10, 2013
"...a bit of delay..."

Are you serious?

The average approval time was 3 months prior to this BS. The average went to over 2 years for conservative groups, some up to 4 years, and some still are waiting. If they're going to deny the app, then just do that timely. But as I said above, that was not the purpose, actively suppressing the conservative vote so Obama could get re-coronated was.

Yet Obama's brother, in Kenya, was approved in three weeks. He had been illegally taking tax-exempt donations for over two years, so his app was backdated 2 1/2 yrs, again illegally, by none other than Lois "the 5th" Lerner, manager in charge of 501 group harassment. Soon we'll find out how quickly "Organizing for America", Obama's new campaign org, was approved and I'll bet they weren't asked for their donor list either.

This is classic Alinsky on steroids, married to Chicago machine thuggism. But they'll get away with it, as long as the "news" media and people like you kneel b4 Obama.

geokstr
1.8 / 5 (10) Jun 10, 2013
Back to the NSA.

I am an expert at data-mining, having done it for 15 years in major corporations, on databases with hundreds of millions of records and trillions of fields. It is very simple to link files, even from incompatible systems, to glean all sorts of data relationships.

I'll bet there are at least two "rogue", "low-level" employees, totally unbeknownst to the "non-partisan" higher-ups of course, doing this sort of "unauthorized" analyses right now. They even have access to a huge database of donors, recently extorted from conservative 501 applicants. Since they also have access to credit rating bureaus records through PRISM, they can easily link all these databases together and mine for anything they choose.

But Obama wouldn't do anything like that (at least not in writing). He doesn't have to. All he does is openly name his enemies in every speech he gives, smear them with lies and say they must be destroyed. His drones in the bureaucracy take it from there.
freethinking
1 / 5 (11) Jun 10, 2013
Homosexuals and Hezbollah Progressives now acting at thought police in the Military.

http://radio.foxn...ges.html

FEAR is the weapon Hezbollah Progressives Use. Question, if you sign an anti gay marriage petition, will the government 1. leak your name, address, Social Security number, where you work, your children's name and ages, where they go to school, your health information to radical homosexual activist or 2. just leak your name to homosexual activists.
rwinners
5 / 5 (1) Jun 10, 2013
This article in non-sense. The problem with access to digital data is that it is either ON 0r OFF.
It is much easier for those interested to just gobble up huge amounts of data and sort through it at leisure. I mean, you just never know what will show up.... (read sarcasm)
deepsand
2.8 / 5 (13) Jun 11, 2013
Homosexuals and Hezbollah Progressives now acting at thought police in the Military.

FEAR is the weapon Hezbollah Progressives Use. Question, if you sign an anti gay marriage petition, will the government 1. leak your name, address, Social Security number, where you work, your children's name and ages, where they go to school, your health information to radical homosexual activist or 2. just leak your name to homosexual activists.

Ignorance and hatred seem to be your weapons of choice.
freethinking
1 / 5 (10) Jun 11, 2013
deepsand. Hezbollah Progressives weapons, IRS, DOJ, Threats, Lies, Hate, Intimidation, voting often, having dead people vote, preventing people from making a living, forcing acceptance of perversion, Prism, more advanced progressives then move on to firing squads, beheading s, burning of churches, enslavement.

Conservatives weapon of choice. Truth.....

freethinking
1 / 5 (10) Jun 11, 2013
I forgot, Hezbollah Progressives use sock puppets..... hey toot.... who is your master? Kissed your Obama statue yet today?

Anyone who uses a sock puppet on these boards is scum (I don't care what side of an argument they are on), but from what I observe it is the Progressives that use them. But Hey criminals, sexually perverted, vote seem to vote and vote often for Progressive.
deepsand
2.9 / 5 (12) Jun 12, 2013
free_of_thinking tell such transparent lies.

Conservatives weapon of choice. Truth.

ROTFLMAO.
deepsand
3 / 5 (12) Jun 12, 2013
I forgot, Hezbollah Progressives use sock puppets..... hey toot.... who is your master? Kissed your Obama statue yet today?

Anyone who uses a sock puppet on these boards is scum (I don't care what side of an argument they are on), but from what I observe it is the Progressives that use them. But Hey criminals, sexually perverted, vote seem to vote and vote often for Progressive.

LMAO.

free-of-thinking is so clueless that he doesn't realize who is pulling his strings.
Neinsense99
3 / 5 (8) Jun 14, 2013
Don't be surprised if the illegal spying leak was not a part of an orchestrated government plan. Just like the wikileaks, the irs shame, the kenyan potus, the blue dress - the rule of law will be overlooked by our "do-nothing but make noise" Congress..

BirtherTard. It figures.
freethinking
1 / 5 (10) Jun 14, 2013
deepsand....lets see, Obama spying on Conservatives good, Bush spying on terrorists, bad. Obama lying and coverup of Benghazi good, Obama making sure FBI doesn't investigate Mosques where radicals have and continue to come from, good. Obama using the FBI to investigate conservative groups good. Obama using the IRS as a weapon good. Obama using Prism to find a fall guy, good.

OK I get it, for a Hezbollah Progressive, bad is good and good is bad and.... another Hezbollah Progressive saying "I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing."
JohnGee
2.8 / 5 (11) Jun 14, 2013
Obama spying on Conservatives good
No evidence.
Bush spying on terrorists, bad.
Who said this? Blatant blowhard partisanship.
Obama lying and coverup of Benghazi good
What exactly are they covering up? For the record, I knew Sean Smith and he spent quite a bit of time making fun of Freepers and other Archconservatives. He'd be appalled at what those leeches are doing in his name and angry that they've gotten to his mother.
Obama using the FBI to investigate conservative groups good.
Only to the extent they overlap with terrorist groups.
Obama using the IRS as a weapon good.
Employees at the IRS rightly assumed it would be incompetent to not give extra scrutiny to groups formed in opposition to taxes.
Obama using Prism to find a fall guy, good.
Conspiratorial nonsense.

You own a business, right? How can you do that and have such a tenuous grip on reality?
deepsand
2.6 / 5 (10) Jun 15, 2013
deepsand....lets see, Obama spying on Conservatives good, Bush spying on terrorists, bad. Obama lying and coverup of Benghazi good, Obama making sure FBI doesn't investigate Mosques where radicals have and continue to come from, good. Obama using the FBI to investigate conservative groups good. Obama using the IRS as a weapon good. Obama using Prism to find a fall guy, good.

OK I get it, for a Hezbollah Progressive, bad is good and good is bad and.... another Hezbollah Progressive saying "I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing."

One wearies of your constant pecking at one aspect of a subject like an insane woodpecker looking for a grub in a block of concrete.
freethinking
1 / 5 (9) Jun 17, 2013
Progressives, "I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing."

IRS not targeting Conservatives. Only idiots believe that now.
EPA releasing confidential information of farmers to Radical Progressive Environmentalist groups. Yes they have.
EPA not releasing public information to Conservative groups. Yep, and documented.
DOJ investigating Journalists who investigate Obama's administration. Yep and reported.
Leaks of confidential information always seems to be happening to Obama's enemies.

OK people, Nothing to see here, Nothing to hear here, Nothing to know here.....
deepsand
2.8 / 5 (11) Jun 18, 2013
Progressives, "I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing."

IRS not targeting Conservatives. Only idiots believe that now.
EPA releasing confidential information of farmers to Radical Progressive Environmentalist groups. Yes they have.
EPA not releasing public information to Conservative groups. Yep, and documented.
DOJ investigating Journalists who investigate Obama's administration. Yep and reported.
Leaks of confidential information always seems to be happening to Obama's enemies.

OK people, Nothing to see here, Nothing to hear here, Nothing to know here.....

You lack the humour to be entertaining, the knowledge to be informative, and have all the charm and attraction of a deceased rat which suffered from leprosy and incontinence.
freethinking
1 / 5 (9) Jun 18, 2013
deepsand, since you love to use sockpuppets to raise your rank and to take others down. You have no credibility. How does it feel to act like a Hezbollah?
deepsand
2.8 / 5 (9) Jun 19, 2013
deepsand, since you love to use sockpuppets to raise your rank and to take others down. You have no credibility. How does it feel to act like a Hezbollah?

You are like an insane woodpecker looking for a grub in a block of concrete.

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