Secret to Prism program: Even bigger data seizure

Jun 15, 2013 by Anne Flaherty
In this June 10, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Wondering what the U.S. government might know about your phone calls and online life? And whether all of this really helps find terrorists? Good luck finding solid answers. Americans trying to wrap their minds around two giant surveillance programs are confronted with a mishmash of leaks, changing claims and secrecy. Congress members complain their constituents are baffled _ and many lawmakers admit they are, too. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

In the months and early years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, FBI agents began showing up at Microsoft Corp. more frequently than before, armed with court orders demanding information on customers.

Around the world, spies and eavesdroppers were tracking the email and used by suspected terrorists. Often, those trails led to the world's largest and, at the time, largest email provider.

The agents wanted email archives, account information, practically everything, and quickly. Engineers compiled the data, sometimes by hand, and delivered it to the government.

Often there was no easy way to tell if the information belonged to foreigners or Americans. So much data was changing hands that one former Microsoft employee recalls that the engineers were anxious about whether the company should cooperate.

Inside Microsoft, some called it "Hoovering"—not after the , but after J. Edgar Hoover, the first FBI director, who gathered dirt on countless Americans.

This frenetic, manual process was the forerunner to Prism, the recently revealed highly classified program that seizes records from Internet companies. As laws changed and technology improved, the government and industry moved toward a streamlined, electronic process, which required less time from the companies and provided the in a more standard format.

The revelation of Prism this month by the and Guardian newspapers has touched off the latest round in a decade-long debate over what limits to impose on government eavesdropping, which the Obama administration says is essential to keep the U.S. safe.

But interviews with more than a dozen current and former government and technology officials and outside experts show that, while Prism has attracted the recent attention, the program actually is a relatively small part of a much more expansive and intrusive eavesdropping effort.

Americans who disapprove of the government reading their emails have more to worry about from a different and larger NSA effort that snatches data as it passes through the fiber optic cables that make up the Internet's backbone. That program, which has been known for years, copies Internet traffic as it enters and leaves the United States, then routes it to the NSA for analysis.

Whether by clever choice or coincidence, Prism appears to do what its name suggests. Like a triangular piece of glass, Prism takes large beams of data and helps the government find discrete, manageable strands of information.

The fact that it is productive is not surprising; documents show it is one of the major sources for what ends up in the president's daily briefing. Prism makes sense of the cacophony of the Internet's raw feed. It provides the government with names, addresses, conversation histories and entire archives of email inboxes.

Many of the people interviewed for this report insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss a classified, continuing effort. But those interviews, along with public statements and the few public documents available, show there are two vital components to Prism's success.

The first is how the government works closely with the companies that keep people perpetually connected to each other and the world. That story line has attracted the most attention so far.

The second and far murkier one is how Prism fits into a larger U.S. wiretapping program in place for years.

___

Deep in the oceans, hundreds of cables carry much of the world's phone and Internet traffic. Since at least the early 1970s, the NSA has been tapping foreign cables. It doesn't need permission. That's its job.

But Internet data doesn't care about borders. Send an email from Pakistan to Afghanistan and it might pass through a mail server in the United States, the same computer that handles messages to and from Americans. The NSA is prohibited from spying on Americans or anyone inside the United States. That's the FBI's job and it requires a warrant.

Despite that prohibition, shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush secretly authorized the NSA to plug into the fiber optic cables that enter and leave the United States, knowing it would give the government unprecedented, warrantless access to Americans' private conversations.

Tapping into those cables allows the NSA access to monitor emails, telephone calls, video chats, websites, bank transactions and more. It takes powerful computers to decrypt, store and analyze all this information, but the information is all there, zipping by at the speed of light.

"You have to assume everything is being collected," said Bruce Schneier, who has been studying and writing about cryptography and computer security for two decades.

The New York Times disclosed the existence of this effort in 2005. In 2006, former AT&T technician Mark Klein revealed that the company had allowed the NSA to install a computer at its San Francisco switching center, a spot where fiber optic cables enter the U.S.

What followed was the most significant debate over domestic surveillance since the 1975 Church Committee, a special Senate committee led by Sen. Frank Church of Idaho, reined in the CIA and FBI for spying on Americans.

Unlike the recent debate over Prism, however, there were no visual aids, no easy-to-follow charts explaining that the government was sweeping up millions of emails and listening to phone calls of people accused of no wrongdoing.

The Bush administration called it the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" and said it was keeping the United States safe.

"This program has produced intelligence for us that has been very valuable in the global war on terror, both in terms of saving lives and breaking up plots directed at the United States," Vice President Dick Cheney said at the time.

The government has said it minimizes all conversations and emails involving Americans. Exactly what that means remains classified. But former U.S. officials familiar with the process say it allows the government to keep the information as long as it is labeled as belonging to an American and stored in a special, restricted part of a computer.

That means Americans' personal emails can live in government computers, but analysts can't access, read or listen to them unless the emails become relevant to a national security investigation.

The government doesn't automatically delete the data, officials said, because an email or phone conversation that seems innocuous today might be significant a year from now.

What's unclear to the public is how long the government keeps the data. That is significant because the U.S. someday will have a new enemy. Two decades from now, the government could have a trove of American emails and phone records it can tap to investigative whatever Congress declares a threat to national security.

Gen. Keith Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency, leaves a Senate Intelligence Committee meeting regarding NSA programs, in Washington, Thursday, June 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Bush administration shut down its warrantless wiretapping program in 2007 but endorsed a new law, the Protect America Act, which allowed the wiretapping to continue with changes: The NSA generally would have to explain its techniques and targets to a secret court in Washington, but individual warrants would not be required.

Congress approved it, with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, in the midst of a campaign for president, voting against it.

"This administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide," Obama said in a speech two days before that vote. "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."

___

When the Protect America Act made warrantless wiretapping legal, lawyers and executives at major technology companies knew what was about to happen.

One expert in national security law, who is directly familiar with how Internet companies dealt with the government during that period, recalls conversations in which technology officials worried aloud that the government would trample on Americans' constitutional right against unlawful searches, and that the companies would be called on to help.

The logistics were about to get daunting, too.

For years, the companies had been handling requests from the FBI. Now Congress had given the NSA the authority to take information without warrants. Though the companies didn't know it, the passage of the Protect America Act gave birth to a top-secret NSA program, officially called US-98XN.

It was known as Prism. Though many details are still unknown, it worked like this:

Every year, the attorney general and the director of national intelligence spell out in a classified document how the government plans to gather intelligence on foreigners overseas.

By law, the certification can be broad. The government isn't required to identify specific targets or places.

A federal judge, in a secret order, approves the plan.

With that, the government can issue "directives" to Internet companies to turn over information.

While the court provides the government with broad authority to seize records, the directives themselves typically are specific, said one former associate general counsel at a major . They identify a specific target or groups of targets. Other company officials recall similar experiences.

All adamantly denied turning over the kind of broad swaths of data that many people believed when the Prism documents were first released.

"We only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers," Microsoft said in a statement.

Facebook said it received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests for data from all government agencies in the second half of last year. The social media company said fewer than 19,000 users were targeted.

How many of those were related to national security is unclear, and likely classified. The numbers suggest each request typically related to one or two people, not a vast range of users.

Tech company officials were unaware there was a program named Prism. Even former law enforcement and counterterrorism officials who were on the job when the program went live and were aware of its capabilities said this past week that they didn't know what it was called.

What the NSA called Prism, the companies knew as a streamlined system that automated and simplified the "Hoovering" from years earlier, the former assistant general counsel said. The companies, he said, wanted to reduce their workload. The government wanted the data in a structured, consistent format that was easy to search.

Any company in the communications business can expect a visit, said Mike Janke, CEO of Silent Circle, a company that advertises software for secure, encrypted conversations. The government is eager to find easy ways around security.

In this June 6, 2013, photo, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, joined by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, left, addresses Attorney General Eric Holder as he testifies at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee as lawmakers examine the budget for the Justice Department, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Revelations of massive government collections of Americans' phone and email records have reinvigorated an odd-couple political alliance of the far left and right. "This is a marginal national security group within our party," Graham said of those who call the government snooping unwarranted or unconstitutional. "I just don't see how anybody gets elected as a Republican" by running to the "left of Obama on national security," said Graham, one of the Senate's most hawkish members. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

"They do this every two to three years," said Janke, who said government agents have approached his company but left empty-handed because his computer servers store little information. "They ask for the moon."

That often creates tension between the government and a technology industry with a reputation for having a civil libertarian bent. Companies occasionally argue to limit what the government takes. Yahoo even went to court and lost in a classified ruling in 2008, The New York Times reported Friday.

"The notion that Yahoo gives any federal agency vast or unfettered access to our users' records is categorically false," Ron Bell, the company's general counsel, said recently.

Under Prism, the delivery process varied by company.

Google, for instance, says it makes secure file transfers. Others use contractors or have set up stand-alone systems. Some have set up user interfaces making it easier for the government, according to a security expert familiar with the process.

Every company involved denied the most sensational assertion in the Prism documents: that the NSA pulled data "directly from the servers" of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL and more.

Technology experts and a former government official say that phrasing, taken from a PowerPoint slide describing the program, was likely meant to differentiate Prism's neatly organized, company-provided data from the unstructured information snatched out of the Internet's major pipelines.

In a slide made public by the Post and Guardian, NSA analysts were encouraged to use data coming from both Prism and from the fiber-optic cables.

Prism, as its name suggests, helps narrow and focus the stream. If eavesdroppers spot a suspicious email among the torrent of data pouring into the United States, analysts can use information from Internet companies to pinpoint the user.

With Prism, the government gets a user's entire email inbox. Every email, including contacts with American citizens, becomes government property.

Once the NSA has an inbox, it can search its huge archives for information about everyone with whom the target communicated. All those people can be investigated, too.

That's one example of how emails belonging to Americans can become swept up in the hunt.

In that way, Prism helps justify specific, potentially personal searches. But it's the broader operation on the Internet fiber optics cables that actually captures the data, experts agree.

"I'm much more frightened and concerned about real-time monitoring on the Internet backbone," said Wolf Ruzicka, CEO of EastBanc Technologies, a Washington software company. "I cannot think of anything, outside of a face-to-face conversation, that they could not have access to."

One unanswered question, according to a former technology executive at one of the companies involved, is whether the government can use the data from Prism to work backward.

For example, not every company archives instant message conversations, chat room exchanges or videoconferences. But if Prism provided general details, known as metadata, about when a user began chatting, could the government "rewind" its copy of the global Internet stream, find the conversation and replay it in full?

That would take enormous computing, storage and code-breaking power. It's possible the NSA could use supercomputers to decrypt some transmissions, but it's unlikely it would have the ability to do that in volume. In other words, it would help to know what messages to zero in on.

Whether the government has that power and whether it uses Prism this way remains a closely guarded secret.

___

A few months after Obama took office in 2009, the surveillance debate reignited in Congress because the NSA had crossed the line. Eavesdroppers, it turned out, had been using their warrantless wiretap authority to intercept far more emails and phone calls of Americans than they were supposed to.

Obama, no longer opposed to the wiretapping, made unspecified changes to the process. The government said the problems were fixed.

"I came in with a healthy skepticism about these programs," Obama explained recently. "My team evaluated them. We scrubbed them thoroughly. We actually expanded some of the oversight, increased some of the safeguards."

Years after decrying Bush for it, Obama said Americans did have to make tough choices in the name of safety.

"You can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience," the president said.

Obama's administration, echoing his predecessor's, credited the surveillance with disrupting several terrorist attacks. Leading figures from the Bush administration who endured criticism during Obama's candidacy have applauded the president for keeping the surveillance intact.

Jason Weinstein, who recently left the Justice Department as head of its cybercrime and intellectual property section, said it's no surprise Obama continued the eavesdropping.

"You can't expect a president to not use a legal tool that Congress has given him to protect the country," he said. "So, Congress has given him the tool. The president's using it. And the courts are saying 'The way you're using it is OK.' That's checks and balances at work."

Schneier, the author and security expert, said it doesn't really matter how Prism works, technically. Just assume the government collects everything, he said.

He said it doesn't matter what the government and the companies say, either. It's spycraft, after all.

"Everyone is playing word games," he said. "No one is telling the truth."

Explore further: Premier US album chart revamped to include streaming

4.4 /5 (15 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

But wait, there's more: A US spying Q&A

Jun 07, 2013

Wait, there's more? Yes, this was the week that America's intelligence secrets spilled out: Classified court orders. Top secret Power Point slides. Something called PRISM. It's pretty important stuff, once ...

Google asks to publish more US gov't information (Update)

Jun 11, 2013

Google is asking the Obama administration for permission to disclose more details about the U.S. government's demands for email and other personal information transmitted online in an effort to distance itself ...

US intelligence chief backs Internet spy program

Jun 09, 2013

The top U.S. intelligence official stressed Saturday that a previously undisclosed program for tapping into Internet usage is authorized by Congress, falls under strict supervision of a secret court and cannot ...

New reports allege vast US Internet spying sweep

Jun 07, 2013

US spies are secretly tapping into servers of nine Internet giants including Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google in a vast anti-terror sweep targeting foreigners, explosive reports said Thursday.

Recommended for you

YouTube goes online for second Music Awards

Nov 20, 2014

The YouTube Music Awards are undergoing an overhaul for their second edition next year, scrapping a star-studded gala and instead looking at videos' online buzz.

China Premier calls for greater role in shaping Web

Nov 20, 2014

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Thursday demanded a greater role for Beijing in shaping the global Internet, calling for "order" online as he failed to address his government's censorship of content it deems politically ...

User comments : 23

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VENDItardE
2.3 / 5 (15) Jun 15, 2013
The Bush administration shut down its warrantless wiretapping program in 2007 but endorsed a new law, the Protect America Act, which allowed the wiretapping to continue with changes: The NSA generally would have to explain its techniques and targets to a secret court in Washington, but individual warrants would not be required.
Congress approved it, with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, in the midst of a campaign for president, voting against it.
"This administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide," Obama said in a speech two days before that vote. "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."

same guy he has always been......more interested in control than truth....what a piece of work.
orti
1.4 / 5 (9) Jun 15, 2013
VENDltartE has an excellent summary.
cantdrive85
1.9 / 5 (14) Jun 15, 2013
The Constitution guarantees privacy and liberty for it's citizens, not safety! I guess this is lost on the pansy progressives who need to be saved from themselves.
Nikstlitselpmur
1.4 / 5 (11) Jun 15, 2013
The Constitution guarantees privacy and liberty for it's citizens, not safety! I guess this is lost on the pansy progressives who need to be saved from themselves.


So what does the "Life" in "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" allude to?
Shootist
1.7 / 5 (11) Jun 15, 2013
In the months and early years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, FBI agents began showing up at Microsoft Corp. more frequently than before, armed with court orders demanding information on customers.


At least they had court orders, now it isn't so certain that the security apparatus is curtailed by any law.
Cave_Man
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 15, 2013
The Constitution guarantees privacy and liberty for it's citizens, not safety! I guess this is lost on the pansy progressives who need to be saved from themselves.


So what does the "Life" in "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" allude to?

I do believe you have struck upon the heart of this issue. Are you aware of the danger you face when shopping at the mall or being around any group of people, especially strangers?

Are you aware how likely you are to die just because of the fact you drive?

Do you know which populations around the world have a negative or hateful view of you?

If you understood the phenomenon of population and multiple individuals you would realize that safety can NEVER EVER be guaranteed.

We could all be wiped out be an asteroid tomorrow and no law or legislation can assure you protection from this. Its YOUR responsibility to find out about the world you live in, stop letting the fucking TV tell you what is what. The president can't help.
TheKnowItAll
1.7 / 5 (10) Jun 16, 2013
There is an analogy I give people whenever the internet privacy issues arise; "the internet is just like a public road." Would you do this and that on the road or would you allow this and that to happen? Would you let your kids wonder the roads at night unattended? Etc. It is public domain so if you have something you want to keep private or safe than keep it in your private domain. Whatever you would usually keep confined to your home does not belong on the road or the internet. Consider it fully public! On the other hand, that in no way means that I agree with the governments spying on their own people instead of being fully truthful as to what they are doing. It's not spying if we know and agree.
evropej
1.9 / 5 (9) Jun 16, 2013
Once government gets a taste of doing what it likes with no court orders, then you can guess where this will go and has gone already. If they are concerned about national security, why not start with the border? I mean, people with barely any education can cross the border with ease and these guys want to catch people with technology? There is a saying, if you cant crawl, you cant run. This is just an excuse to take civil rights away, period. You know, the same agency who used information to target conservative voters with the IRS.
Nikstlitselpmur
1.3 / 5 (9) Jun 16, 2013
Seems to me this is a clear violation of the Fifth Amendment, insofar as evidence procured without due process,ie wire taps or personal E mails being the property of the sender or receiver should not be allowed in a court of law, or as the basis for a warrant, as it was obtained without judicial oversight therefor illegally

.Fifth Amendment requires just compensation if private property is taken for public use
Noumenon
1.4 / 5 (30) Jun 16, 2013
Actually the 4th amendment.... "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, PAPERS, AND EFFECTS, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, [except] upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized"

We see HERE that the NSA has admitted to trampling over the constitution. The 4th admendment does not apply to the masses as a whole all at once, but to individuals one at a time,... otherwise it would be redundant.

Now it is NOT just a matter of raw phone number links and time stamps,... now they admit it is CONTENT of phone calls and presumably CONTENT of emails etc.
Noumenon
1.4 / 5 (30) Jun 16, 2013
There is an analogy I give people whenever the internet privacy issues arise; "the internet is just like a public road." Would you do this and that on the road or would you allow this and that to happen? [...] It is public domain so if you have something you want to keep private or safe than keep it in your private domain. Whatever you would usually keep confined to your home does not belong on the road or the internet. Consider it fully public! On the other hand, that in no way means that I agree with the governments spying on their own people instead of being fully truthful as to what they are doing. It's not spying if we know and agree.


This does not apply to email CONTENT, which is NOT in fact public domain. Your mailbox sits out on public property near the road,.. can any one read your mail? No.

Also, public domain means information freely available and usable by the public, not the government that would gain coercive powers over individuals.
Noumenon
1.3 / 5 (29) Jun 16, 2013
The 4th admendment does not apply to the masses as a whole all at once, but to individuals one at a time,... otherwise it would be redundant.

So, if the NSA received judicial powers to access CONTENT of emails or phone call audio for ALL Americans on the bases of 'generalization' ....it is a fraudulent interpretation of the constitution or void due to judicial incompetence, and should be over turned by the supreme court.
VendicarE
3.2 / 5 (5) Jun 17, 2013

"We see HERE that the NSA has admitted to trampling over the constitution." - NumenTard

Wrong again.. Idiot...

You don't seem to realize that you don't get to decide what is and is not constitutional.

The courts do.

And they have decided that the current system is both legal and constitutional.

What you wish to be fact is, as always, Irrelevant.

Do you intend to remain a moron for the rest of your life?
VendicarE
3 / 5 (4) Jun 17, 2013
"The 4th admendment does not apply to the masses as a whole all at once, but to individuals one at a time,... otherwise it would be redundant." - NumenTard

Yes. This is why mass arrests and mass imprisonment without charge is constitutional in the U.S. The Constitution simply doesn't apply to AmeriKKKans as a group.

VendicarE
3.8 / 5 (4) Jun 17, 2013
As this article makes abundantly clear.

Republicans are behind this program of spying on the American People..

Republican Filth
freethinking
1.4 / 5 (11) Jun 17, 2013
Just suppose you go against the government for a just cause, lets just suppose the government isn't happy about it, lets suppose we have a public servant (actually master... but that's a different story), who then starts looking at your email, phone calls, medical records, tax records lets suppose that you were treated for depression 10 years earlier, made a mistake on your taxes, and when you were 14 were caught smoking some dope, and currently you own a gun of some sort, now lets suppose information of your mental illness was given to the police who then had to seize your gun, and the media who supports the present administration publishes the leaked information that you are not only a tax cheat but an irresponsible pot smoker currently being treated for ED who had his massive hoard of guns confiscated due to mental illness.
But of course this leaked information will be done by a rouge agent, protected by unions, everyone will apologize after the fact. BTW your just cause gone!
freethinking
1.4 / 5 (11) Jun 17, 2013
If you don't trust big business, how can you ever trust big government? Big business can only impact one area of your life. Government can destroy you with taxes, put you in jail, deny you health care, leak your emails and phone records, confiscate your property, prevent you from being employed.

If you don't like the treatment of big business, you have the courts.

If you don't like your treatment from Government, you can appeal to another unionized government employee who doesn't care or is incompetent, or just ticked off at you. But of course you need to fill out the correct paperwork first, and if you forget to dot an i or cross a t you will need to submit it again, but only if you didn't miss the cutoff times.......

Yup, anyone doesn't trust big business yet trusts big government is a fool.
Noumenon
1.3 / 5 (29) Jun 17, 2013

"We see HERE that the NSA has admitted to trampling over the constitution." - NumenTard

Wrong again.. Idiot...

You don't seem to realize that you don't get to decide what is and is not constitutional.

The courts do.

And they have decided that the current system is both legal and constitutional.

What you wish to be fact is, as always, Irrelevant.

Do you intend to remain a moron for the rest of your life?
- CommieTardVendicar


The question that motivated my post was about CONTENT not metadata.

"the NSA 'is not listening to Americans' phone calls' or monitoring their e-mails, and any statements to the contrary are 'misinformation.' It would be "illegal" for the NSA to do that" - Rep. Mike Rogers, head of the House Intelligence committee 06/2013
Noumenon
1.3 / 5 (29) Jun 17, 2013
Another example of reading comprehension problems by antique Troll Vendickare,...

You don't seem to realize that you don't get to decide what is and is not constitutional.


If you weren't such a massive liar and adolescent troll, you would have noticed me posting the following,..

"So, if the NSA received judicial powers to access CONTENT [...] should be over turned by the supreme court."
Noumenon
1.4 / 5 (30) Jun 17, 2013
Obviously, according to Rep. Mike Rogers, head of the House Intelligence committee, it would NOT be legal for the NSA to access CONTENT of phone calls or emails,.. therefore the courts did NOT decide that as Vendicar wrong states.

--------------------------------------------------------

More Vendicar dishonesty.....

You don't seem to realize that you don't get to decide what is and is not constitutional.
The courts do.
And they have decided that the current system is both legal and constitutional. - commie face Vendichead


Then the dunderhead immediately follows the above post with,...

As this article makes abundantly clear.
Republicans are behind this program of spying on the American People..
Republican Filth - poop nose smelly pants Vendichead


...despite the Obama admin. occupying the White House for five years and clearly supporting nearing every Bush admin. national security measure, drones, expanded NSA powers, Guantanamo bay
Noumenon
1.3 / 5 (29) Jun 17, 2013
,... oh did I mention that Obama is not a republican? Idiot.
freethinking
1.9 / 5 (15) Jun 17, 2013
Noum, If Obama was a republican the Progressives would be saying spying is baaadddd.

Conservatives think and even go against republicans ie. the so called immigration reform under Bush.....
Progressives only repeat.....Bush Baaaaaaad..... Obama gooooodddd
War under Bush..... baaaaaaaddd....... War under Obama..... gooooodddddd
Spying on Terrorists...... baaaaadddddd....... spying on all Americans.......goooooooodddd.
Noumenon
1.4 / 5 (11) Jun 17, 2013
Some on the far left were against the Patriot Act under Bush, and are against this current NSA data grab even under Obama, to their credit of principal. This to me demonstrates that they don't understand that being "far left" or 'liberal progressive' itself implies advocating big gov intrusiveness in any case.

Personally, I don't have a problem with NSA storing raw metadata, or tracking calls originating from certain foreign countries,... but I do have a problem if they are accessing content, as that appears counter to the 4th amendment.

----------

"This is legislation that puts our own Justice Department above the law. When national security letters are issued, they allow federal agents to conduct any search on any American, no matter how extensive, how wide ranging, without ever going before a judge to prove the search is necessary. … No judge will hear your plea; no jury will hear your case. This is plain wrong." - Obama on Patriot Act - Wiretap Provision 2006

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.