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Church: Obama, NSA, Verizon

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by basso, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    Unholy Trinity:

    Revealed: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans daily

    Wednesday 5 June 2013 19.05 EDT

    Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama

    • Read the court order in full here


    Under the terms of the order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data and the time and duration of all calls. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP
    Glenn Greenwald

    The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

    The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

    The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

    The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

    Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

    The disclosure is likely to reignite longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government's domestic spying powers.

    Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.

    The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.

    The Guardian approached the National Security Agency, the White House and the Department of Justice for comment in advance of publication on Wednesday. All declined. The agencies were also offered the opportunity to raise specific security concerns regarding the publication of the court order.

    The court order expressly bars Verizon from disclosing to the public either the existence of the FBI's request for its customers' records, or the court order itself.

    "We decline comment," said Ed McFadden, a Washington-based Verizon spokesman.

    The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson, compels Verizon to produce to the NSA electronic copies of "all call detail records or 'telephony metadata' created by Verizon for communications between the United States and abroad" or "wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls".

    The order directs Verizon to "continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order". It specifies that the records to be produced include "session identifying information", such as "originating and terminating number", the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and "comprehensive communication routing information".

    The information is classed as "metadata", or transactional information, rather than communications, and so does not require individual warrants to access. The document also specifies that such "metadata" is not limited to the aforementioned items. A 2005 court ruling judged that cell site location data – the nearest cell tower a phone was connected to – was also transactional data, and so could potentially fall under the scope of the order.

    While the order itself does not include either the contents of messages or the personal information of the subscriber of any particular cell number, its collection would allow the NSA to build easily a comprehensive picture of who any individual contacted, how and when, and possibly from where, retrospectively.

    It is not known whether Verizon is the only cell-phone provider to be targeted with such an order, although previous reporting has suggested the NSA has collected cell records from all major mobile networks. It is also unclear from the leaked document whether the three-month order was a one-off, or the latest in a series of similar orders.

    The court order appears to explain the numerous cryptic public warnings by two US senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, about the scope of the Obama administration's surveillance activities.

    For roughly two years, the two Democrats have been stridently advising the public that the US government is relying on "secret legal interpretations" to claim surveillance powers so broad that the American public would be "stunned" to learn of the kind of domestic spying being conducted.

    Because those activities are classified, the senators, both members of the Senate intelligence committee, have been prevented from specifying which domestic surveillance programs they find so alarming. But the information they have been able to disclose in their public warnings perfectly tracks both the specific law cited by the April 25 court order as well as the vast scope of record-gathering it authorized.

    Julian Sanchez, a surveillance expert with the Cato Institute, explained: "We've certainly seen the government increasingly strain the bounds of 'relevance' to collect large numbers of records at once — everyone at one or two degrees of separation from a target — but vacuuming all metadata up indiscriminately would be an extraordinary repudiation of any pretence of constraint or particularized suspicion." The April order requested by the FBI and NSA does precisely that.

    The law on which the order explicitly relies is the so-called "business records" provision of the Patriot Act, 50 USC section 1861. That is the provision which Wyden and Udall have repeatedly cited when warning the public of what they believe is the Obama administration's extreme interpretation of the law to engage in excessive domestic surveillance.

    In a letter to attorney general Eric Holder last year, they argued that "there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows."

    "We believe," they wrote, "that most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted" the "business records" provision of the Patriot Act.

    Privacy advocates have long warned that allowing the government to collect and store unlimited "metadata" is a highly invasive form of surveillance of citizens' communications activities. Those records enable the government to know the identity of every person with whom an individual communicates electronically, how long they spoke, and their location at the time of the communication.

    Such metadata is what the US government has long attempted to obtain in order to discover an individual's network of associations and communication patterns. The request for the bulk collection of all Verizon domestic telephone records indicates that the agency is continuing some version of the data-mining program begun by the Bush administration in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack.

    The NSA, as part of a program secretly authorized by President Bush on 4 October 2001, implemented a bulk collection program of domestic telephone, internet and email records. A furore erupted in 2006 when USA Today reported that the NSA had "been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth" and was "using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity." Until now, there has been no indication that the Obama administration implemented a similar program.

    These recent events reflect how profoundly the NSA's mission has transformed from an agency exclusively devoted to foreign intelligence gathering, into one that focuses increasingly on domestic communications. A 30-year employee of the NSA, William Binney, resigned from the agency shortly after 9/11 in protest at the agency's focus on domestic activities.

    In the mid-1970s, Congress, for the first time, investigated the surveillance activities of the US government. Back then, the mandate of the NSA was that it would never direct its surveillance apparatus domestically.

    At the conclusion of that investigation, Frank Church, the Democratic senator from Idaho who chaired the investigative committee, warned: "The NSA's capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter."

    Additional reporting by Ewen MacAskill and Spencer Ackerman

    http://m.guardiannews.com/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order
     
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  2. Amiga

    Amiga 80s
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    Nothing new here. Just revealed what was already mostly known. The price of the war on terror.
     
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  3. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    that's always the funny part about it.

    Kudos for diversifying your reading sources to include the Guardian, that left-wing piece that hits at everybody, no matter what their affiliation, for doing terrible things (and this is a terrible thing).
     
  4. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    "Bush did it, so it ain't no thang" is a ery weird arguement for a "progressive" to make.
     
  5. Codman

    Codman Contributing Member

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    Kiddo, did you come up with the "Unholy Trinity" thing? Impressive, if that was all you.


    And then, suddenly, you imply through a terrible attempt with "slang," that progressives are uneducated? Try again. Wait, you got me. You've been studying Big_Texxx's methods of passive-aggressive--well you know.

    Your hero George W. is a main reason why every president, whether liberal or conservative, will spend a great deal of his or her time trying to repair Bush's incompetent decisions.

    You know it, too. I think that's why you come across so bitter on this forum.

    Education and Honesty=Freedom. Are you free? :)
     
    #5 Codman, Jun 5, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2013
  6. Commodore

    Commodore Contributing Member

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    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>The FISA Court order says this was done at behest of FBI for the NSA. Which means DoJ. Which means Holder goes back to Congress.</p>&mdash; Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) <a href="https://twitter.com/thegarance/status/342475680799420418" data-datetime="2013-06-05T21:58:59+00:00">June 5, 2013</a></blockquote>
    <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
     
  7. Amiga

    Amiga 80s
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    I'm not quite sure what is thang.

    However I'm sure he said it's a terrible thing.
     
  8. bobmarley

    bobmarley Contributing Member

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    Sweet! Music to Obama's ears!

    [​IMG]
     
    #8 bobmarley, Jun 5, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2013
  9. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    ...might want to read what I wrote?

    :confused:
     
  10. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    Orin Kerr, writing in the Volokh Conspiracy:

    1) This is potentially a huge story. If the NSA is getting all call records from every domestic call from Verizon, then that’s a very big deal. And if they’re getting all of those call records, what else are they getting? If they have an order for phone calls, they could also have it for e-mails and other electronic records. This could be just one order among many.

    2) One caveat is that The Guardian has the FISC order but was unable to get anyone to say anything about its context. I don’t think we yet know if this 3-page order is what it appears to be, or if there is some other document that may reveal limitations not clear from the 3-page order. Note that the order is titled “Secondary Order,” which presumably means that there is a primary one that it follows; we don’t know what that order said. So while this is potentially a huge story, we don’t yet have substantial certainty that the facts are what they have been reported to be.

    3) If the order is what it appears to be, then the order points to a problem in Section 1861 that has not been appreciated. Section 1861 says that the “things” that are collected must be relevant to a national security investigation or threat assessment, but it says nothing about the scope of the things obtained. When dealing with a physical object, we naturally treat relevance on an object-by-object basis. Sets of records are different. If Verizon has a database containing records of billions of phone calls made by millions of customers, is that database a single thing, millions of things, or billions of things? Is relevance measured by each record, each customer, or the relevance of the entire database as a whole? If the entire massive database has a single record that is relevant, does that make the entire database relevant, too? The statute doesn’t directly answer that, it seems to me. But certainly it’s surprising — and troubling — if the Section 1861 relevance standard is being interpreted at the database-by-database level.

    Incidentally, I have a section in a forthcoming article pointing out similarly problematic ambiguities in the criminal-investigation surveillance authorities. The statutes don’t speak about particularity of records, making the scale of records something that Congress has left unaddressed. That didn’t matter as much in the past when fewer records were kept, but it matters today; storage is cheap and record-keeping is the norm, making the scale issue extremely important. (I hope to post a draft of that article in a few days; stay tuned.)

    4) The court order calls for Verizon to hand over its records on an ongoing basis — that is, in real time — rather than to hand over a stored database that has been created. It’s not obvious to me that Section 1861 can be used to order a provider to hand over a set of records prospectively, as this order does, as that sounds like a pen register/trap and trace device that would have to be governed by the pen register authority in 50 U.S.C. 1842 instead of the authority in 50 U.S.C. 1861. It’s also not obvious to me that it makes a difference, as the standard is the same and the statutory ambiguity as to scope is similar, too. But I thought it an issue worth raising.

    http://www.volokh.com/2013/06/05/is...sa/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed
     
  11. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    Sen. Mark Udall on the Verizon/phone records story

    "While I cannot corroborate the details of this particular report, this sort of widescale surveillance should concern all of us and is the kind of government overreach I've said Americans would find shocking. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, it's why I will keep fighting for transparency and appropriate checks on the surveillance of Americans."
     
  12. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    Basso's correct inadvertently here.

    "Bush did it" is inapplicable.

    Warrantless illegal wiretapping vs getting a warrant from a court of law for call logs.

    These things are different. But a chorus of idiots conflating them is of course inevitable.
     
  13. Commodore

    Commodore Contributing Member

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    from 2006

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm

     
  14. rhadamanthus

    rhadamanthus Contributing Member

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    FTFY.

    (Posting in a basso thread, especially on this topic, makes me a wee bit irritated)
     
    #14 rhadamanthus, Jun 6, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2013
  15. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    Does the Obama Administration also hand out warrants for all of Stellar Wind?

    I doubt it, and so did Bush's DOJ officials, who at least had the dignity to threaten to resign en masse when Stellar Wind was first proposed.

    "Bush did it" is more of a barb at basso, because when Bush did it, I don't think you would have seen this thread.

    as for content vs non-content, your "sup, nm" emails are held to a certain degree of privacy, only a certain amount of deception with regards to the principles behind privacy laws would say that a lesser standard applies to who you are sending that email to and when.

    It's an open judicial question. Too bad USSC is employing the "cluster***** approach" to dealing with it---

    http://mashable.com/2013/02/26/supreme-court-fisa/

    Maybe Spitzer should sue---

     
  16. Realjad

    Realjad Contributing Member

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    hahaha, you got to love LL (Liberal Logic)

    Liberals got all angry when Bush did it but are all like 'Look!! Bush did it so yeah I'm not mad at all that Obama continued it!!!'

    What happened to your 'change' when your satisfied with continued b/s from one of the worst presidents ever :confused::confused::confused:
     
  17. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    Does the F in FISA stand for Domestic?
     
  18. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    I think this is another reference to my post---

    let me just clarify, if you did not get that from my post (I have no idea why you wouldn't when I categorically stated this is a terrible thing), that this is terrible on the part of the Obama Administration.

    Some other people in this thread though, most notably the thread starter, need to check their moral principles before they try to score cheap political points.
     
  19. bobmarley

    bobmarley Contributing Member

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    When did you become the moral police?

    Anytime the govt is caught overreaching and Republicans call them out for it Liberals call Republicans overreaching. Weird.
     
  20. Air Langhi

    Air Langhi Contributing Member

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    The founding fathers are probably rolling in their graves. This is everything they didn't want.
     
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