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Author Topic: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.  (Read 30352 times)

strangelittleman

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Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2013, 06:21:06 pm »
I too would like to know the following:

A: Exactly to what extent are we under surveillance by our own Gov't?
B: How far does this Intel collection go toward violating our Constitution and subordinate laws?
C: What safeguards are in place to prevent any current, future misuse of said Intel?
D: Why did said "whistleblower" go to, of all places in the world, Hong Kong?
E: What other Intel has he collected and with whom is he sharing it?

 I think this might turn out to be a great big flipping mess, of which, we have barely scratched the surface.
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    freeman1685

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #26 on: June 11, 2013, 06:28:11 pm »
    I too would like to know the following:

    A: Exactly to what extent are we under surveillance by our own Gov't?
    B: How far does this Intel collection go toward violating our Constitution and subordinate laws?
    C: What safeguards are in place to prevent any current, future misuse of said Intel?
    D: Why did said "whistleblower" go to, of all places in the world, Hong Kong?
    E: What other Intel has he collected and with whom is he sharing it?

     I think this might turn out to be a great big flipping mess, of which, we have barely scratched the surface.

    A: Any extent is too far, this ain't the friggin' USSR.
    B: Way too far.  There is no Probable Cause requirement
    C: Absolutely none
    D&E:  Don't have a flippin clue, you'd have to ask him.
    ArizonaStupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education or by legislation.  Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid.  But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.  RAH

    freeman1685

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #27 on: June 11, 2013, 06:34:56 pm »
    Just in case anyone has forgotten to what extent this administration is willing to go:  His Obamaness wanted an Internet Kill Switch.
    ArizonaStupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education or by legislation.  Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid.  But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.  RAH

    Panhead Bill

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #28 on: June 11, 2013, 06:48:02 pm »
    I too would like to know the following:
    ...
    D: Why did said "whistleblower" go to, of all places in the world, Hong Kong?


    That's extremely fishy to me!

    Bill
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    JesseL

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #29 on: June 11, 2013, 07:03:49 pm »
    A question:

    To what extent can the government violate the fourth amendment if they don't use what they learn as the basis for any prosecution? If it never comes out in a trial, what possible check could there be against that?
    Arizona

    booksmart

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #30 on: June 11, 2013, 07:11:46 pm »
    Of course, then you get this guy:

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/lindsey-graham-thought-censoring-mail-necessary-suggest-182932835.html

    Quote
    Sen. Lindsey Graham would propose censoring Americans' "snail" mail if he thought it would help protect national security, the South Carolina Republican said Tuesday. But for now, he says he doesn't think it's necessary.

    THAT's certainly an invasion of privacy, and a breach of the 4th Amendment.

    Reading personal letters is an order of magnitude above keeping track of who calls whom (data which is already kept for billing purposes, after all).

    NukMed

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #31 on: June 11, 2013, 07:17:22 pm »
    A question:

    To what extent can the government violate the fourth amendment if they don't use what they learn as the basis for any prosecution? If it never comes out in a trial, what possible check could there be against that?

    My understanding is that the government needs probable cause to start an investigation on me (i.e. gather information/intel).  They can't just investigate me "for the public good."  To answer your question more precisely: it doesn't matter if the information is used against me or not.  It's wrong.  There is no justification for blanket intel gathering/investigating/snooping on me without first being able to articulate and justify the suspicion of criminal activity.  Is it really that hard to get a warrant to see the phone records of a suspected criminal?
    Freedom trumps fear.  Rights trump security.  Free will trumps order.

    JesseL

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #32 on: June 11, 2013, 07:23:17 pm »
    My understanding is that the government needs probable cause to start an investigation on me (i.e. gather information/intel).  They can't just investigate me "for the public good."  To answer your question more precisely: it doesn't matter if the information is used against me or not.  It's wrong.  There is no justification for blanket intel gathering/investigating/snooping on me without first being able to articulate and justify the suspicion of criminal activity.  Is it really that hard to get a warrant to see the phone records of a suspected criminal?

    I'm not saying it's not wrong, but where is the consequence? What constitutional provision is there for dealing with that?

    Normally investigations that lack probable cause produce evidence that's inadmissable in court (as is everything derived from that evidence) so there's a good reason to play by the rules - they don't want to lose a prosecution.

    When they have no intention of pursuing a prosecution, what reason might they have to respect the 4th amendment?
    Arizona

    booksmart

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #33 on: June 11, 2013, 07:25:36 pm »
    The whole purpose of the FISA courts (supposedly) is to allow exactly that: searching through someone's trash, finding evidence of a crime, then going and getting a warrant to search the trash and the premises.

    NukMed

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #34 on: June 11, 2013, 07:27:24 pm »
    Of course, then you get this guy:

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/lindsey-graham-thought-censoring-mail-necessary-suggest-182932835.html

    THAT's certainly an invasion of privacy, and a breach of the 4th Amendment.

    Reading personal letters is an order of magnitude above keeping track of who calls whom (data which is already kept for billing purposes, after all).

    I see it as a matter of principle, not a matter of case by case order of magnitude.  Either folks are "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" or they are not.  Either warrants are required or they are not.

    I'm not willing to surrender the principle to Lindsey Graham or anyone else.
    Freedom trumps fear.  Rights trump security.  Free will trumps order.

    NukMed

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #35 on: June 11, 2013, 07:30:57 pm »
    When they have no intention of pursuing a prosecution, what reason might they have to respect the 4th amendment?

    If a cop violates my rights, can't he/she be prosecuted?  Why should we treat the NSA any different?
    Freedom trumps fear.  Rights trump security.  Free will trumps order.

    Panhead Bill

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #36 on: June 11, 2013, 07:32:47 pm »
    A question:

    To what extent can the government violate the fourth amendment if they don't use what they learn as the basis for any prosecution? If it never comes out in a trial, what possible check could there be against that?

    I'm not saying it's right, but unfortunately, under most circumstances, the way the courts see it - "No Harm no Foul".

    The remedy set up for violating 4th Amendment is the exclusion of evidence. If there's no criminal action - nothing to exclude. I suppose in extreme scenarios there could be a federal suit for civil rights violations, but I would think it would have to be a pretty extreme scenario to make a case worth pursuing.

    Bill
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    freeman1685

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #37 on: June 11, 2013, 07:34:00 pm »
    I'm not saying it's not wrong, but where is the consequence? What constitutional provision is there for dealing with that?

    Normally investigations that lack probable cause produce evidence that's inadmissable in court (as is everything derived from that evidence) so there's a good reason to play by the rules - they don't want to lose a prosecution.

    When they have no intention of pursuing a prosecution, what reason might they have to respect the 4th amendment?

    Quote
      The Right of the People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall be inviolate, and no warrant shall issue, but upon Probable Cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and Particularly Describing the place to be searched, and the person, or things to be seized.

    I think that pretty much sums it up.  There is no contingency for whether or not any prosecution takes place.  Seems pretty cut and dried to me.  It's wrong, Period.
    ArizonaStupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education or by legislation.  Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid.  But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.  RAH

    booksmart

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #38 on: June 11, 2013, 07:47:20 pm »
    I see it as a matter of principle, not a matter of case by case order of magnitude.  Either folks are "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" or they are not.  Either warrants are required or they are not.

    I'm not willing to surrender the principle to Lindsey Graham or anyone else.

    I don't disagree with you in principle, but there is a world of difference in knowing whether or not Eric called Fred, and reading a letter that Eric mailed Fred, from the standpoint of an invasion of privacy.

    strangelittleman

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #39 on: June 11, 2013, 07:51:12 pm »
    That's extremely fishy to me!

    Bill
    Yeah, to me as well.

    The "Why?" as in "Why did he do it?" question is one I purposely didn't ask....It's the easiest one of all. Way back in the 1980's after the Lonetree incident in Moscow and the infamous Wilson traitors DOD came up with the following acronym: (MICE) that very succinctly states the reasons why someone betrays their own. I believe I've talked of it here before:
    M-Money
    I-Ideology
    C-Compromise
    E-Ego

    If you look at every case of espionage involving an insider, you'll see any one of / or any combo of the letters MICE. Just look at the above mentioned traitors, or Robert Hansen or Aldrich Ames, or even Bradley Manning's (currently) alleged offenses.
    This acronym is most useful when looking at these sorts of things.   
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    coelacanth

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #40 on: June 11, 2013, 08:16:15 pm »
    I think that pretty much sums it up.  There is no contingency for whether or not any prosecution takes place.  Seems pretty cut and dried to me.  It's wrong, Period.
    Exactly.  Collecting any amount of sigint and holding it in reserve until you find something you think will get a warrant issued is a clear violation of the 4th amendment.   You have to have actionable intel BEFORE a warrant is issued - not at some point after you have amassed however many weeks, months or years worth of data you think will suffice. The intent to prosecute or the actuality of prosecution is a moot point.  The violation of the constitution has already taken place.  Foreign nationals? Go for it.  American citizens?  Not so fast there, skippy.   :scrutiny
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    booksmart

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #41 on: June 11, 2013, 09:41:23 pm »
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Intelligence_Surveillance_Act

    Quote
    The FISA resulted from extensive investigations by Senate Committees into the legality of domestic intelligence activities. These investigations were led separately by Sam Ervin and Frank Church in 1978 as a response to President Richard Nixon’s usage of federal resources to spy on political and activist groups, which violates the Fourth Amendment.[4] The act was created to provide Judicial and congressional oversight of the government's covert surveillance activities of foreign entities and individuals in the United States, while maintaining the secrecy needed to protect national security. It allowed surveillance, without court order, within the United States for up to one year unless the "surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party". If a United States person is involved, judicial authorization was required within 72 hours after surveillance begins.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FISA_Amendments_Act_of_2008

    Quote
    Warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency (NSA) was revealed publicly in late 2005 by the New York Times and then discontinued in January 2007.[2] See Letter from Attorney-General Alberto Gonzalez to Senators Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter, CONG. REC. S646-S647 (Jan. 17, 2007).[3] Approximately forty lawsuits have been filed against telecommunications companies by groups and individuals alleging that the Bush administration illegally monitored their phone calls or e-mails.[4] Whistleblower evidence suggests that AT&T was complicit in the NSA's warrantless surveillance, which could have involved the private communications of millions of Americans.[5] The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act makes it illegal to intentionally engage in electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act or to disclose or use information obtained by electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act knowing that it was not authorized by statute; this is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 or up to five years in prison, or both.[6] In addition, the Wiretap Act prohibits any person from illegally intercepting, disclosing, using, or divulging phone calls or electronic communications; this is punishable with a fine or up to five years in prison, or both.[7]

    The FISA Amendments Act also added a new Title VII to FISA which contained provisions similar, but not identical, to provisions in the Protect America Act of 2007 which had expired earlier in 2008. The new provisions in Title VII of FISA were scheduled to expire on December 31, 2012. On December 29, 2012, the U.S. Senate voted by a margin of 73 to 23 to extend the FISA Amendments Act for five years (until December 31, 2017) which renews the U.S. government's authority to monitor electronic communications of foreigners abroad.[8]

    Panhead Bill

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #42 on: June 12, 2013, 02:24:47 pm »
    Yepp. That about sums it up.

    I'm betting they're thinking they're getting around the letter of the law by claiming they're not actually "wiretapping" or "listening in" until after they get a warrant. While I agree that this is morally wrong, if I understand the program correctly, I'm thinking its technically legal - it will make for some interesting court battles and decisions.

    What I'm having trouble wrapping my head around, is if its being used as claimed - holding onto all the data and get a warrant when they want to listen to it (which I don't believe they're doing) - why do they need it?  What's the difference between that and waiting until they get a warrant to get it from the data providers? 
    California

    booksmart

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #43 on: June 12, 2013, 02:37:05 pm »
    I *think*+ the purpose is to have - at hand, and readily available - a ginormous database of interrelated data.

    If - God forbid - there's another Boston Marathon event, they can immediately (if not sooner) see who was in contact with whom, as soon as they have a who to look at - without having to wait for the telco's to cough up the data.

    Joe Schmoe's a suspect? Who did he call in the past four months? Are any of those contacts overseas?

    Hell, look at the serial bomb threats we had earlier this week...

    + we'll run with this being wishful thinking...  :facepalm

    scarville

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #44 on: June 12, 2013, 03:15:27 pm »
    Do not forget that Snowden's boss, James Clapper, blatantly lied to Congress in March when he was asked if the NSA was collecting data on millions of Americans.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/spy-chief-clapper-denies-misleading-congress-spying-americans-221024826.html
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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #45 on: June 12, 2013, 03:24:31 pm »
    It's an interesting legal question. The gov. will doubtless say that they're just keeping a record of everything but not looking at it. Is the act prohibited by the 4th Amendment the recording of the information- with no inconvenience to anyone besides the tax bill- or the analysis of it? Running with the wildly optimistic theory that a government can collect all this info and never ever peek at it, it is theoretically possible to separate the two aspects. We record all the data and set it aside, and only look at it when we have a warrant.

    Yeah, I'm not buying it, either. But that's where we're going with this.

    Mike

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    scarville

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #46 on: June 12, 2013, 04:20:15 pm »
    Letting the NSA gather all this data is like gun registration. The information may set for a while but the odds are good it will lead to bad consequences.
    CaliforniaOf course I carry a gun!  It gives me a chance against the sinners and protection from the righteous.

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    booksmart

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #47 on: June 12, 2013, 04:21:24 pm »
    I'm hoping there are hefty consequences for non-work related peeking.

    "Hey, why is my significant other calling this number a lot?"
    « Last Edit: June 12, 2013, 05:06:50 pm by booksmart »

    Panhead Bill

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    Re: What is PRISM? An NSA SIGINT Surveillance Program.
    « Reply #48 on: June 12, 2013, 04:36:24 pm »
    It makes for an interesting theoretical debate - if only it were just theory and not actually happening. But, to a certain degree, aren't we supposed to trust those we elect into office to not cross boundaries?  i.e. they have access to sensitive, classified information and trust that they don't abuse that info.

    I know reality is far different than the theoretical, but it was just a thought.
    California

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    NSA: The Plot Thickens
    « Reply #49 on: June 12, 2013, 05:32:45 pm »
    Some, including the author of the original article, have argued that this is nothing new, that people are riled up about old news, and that this has all be hashed out by Congress and the Courts with the passage and renewal of the PATRIOT Act.

    The author of that act begs to differ.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/350690/author-patriot-act-calls-amending-it-lindsey-grudnicki

    Quote
    Author of PATRIOT Act Calls for Amending It
    By  Lindsey Grudnicki
    June 11, 2013 1:54 PM


    Republican representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin says he supports amending the PATRIOT Act in order to prevent abuses by the National Security Agency.

    Sensenbrenner, who helped write the act in 2001, said he was disappointed that the current administration has misused the power granted to the executive branch to investigate and prevent terrorist activity. The NSA’s surveillance of the phone and Internet records of American citizens not suspected of such activity is “certainly not what the PATRIOT Act intended,” the congressman said.

    Congress needs “to shut this door completely and not let it be pried open,” Sensenbrenner explained on Sean Hannity’s radio program on Monday. Changes to the legislation, he suggests, should be “very specific” so that “the intelligence community knows that this goes too far.”

    “Apparently what the president seems to think is that universal background checks for guns are okay, so universal seizure of people’s telephone records is okay,” he said.

    Sensenbrenner argued that the streamlining of the surveillance-court system (FISA) has been “broadening” the PATRIOT Act’s application since 2007. He said that the secret court system was “designed to put a check on what the government could do,”  but that it hasn’t been doing so, as evidenced by the NSA’s successful pressuring of companies into turning over access to their data. Thus, the congressman said, the FISA court process will “need to be restricted” when Congress begins to amend the legislation.

    “The public outcry, I think, is going to be very helpful,” Sensenbrenner concluded. “There’s a midterm election coming up and people are not going to forget what has come to light.”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/350854/sensenbrenner-obama-administrations-nsa-assurances-bunch-bunk-lindsey-grudnicki

    Quote
    Sensenbrenner: Obama Administration’s NSA Assurances ‘a Bunch of Bunk’
    By  Lindsey Grudnicki
    June 12, 2013 1:01 PM

    Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, who introduced the PATRIOT Act on the House floor in 2001, has declared that lawmakers’ and the executive branch’s excuses about recent revelations of NSA activity are “a bunch of bunk.”

    In an interview on Laura Ingraham’s radio show Wednesday morning, the Republican congressman from Wisconsin reiterated his concerns that the administration and the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court have gone far beyond what the PATRIOT Act intended. Specifically, he said that Section 215 of the act “was originally drafted to prevent data mining” on the scale that’s occurred.

    Sensenbrenner, the current chairman on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, suggested that the secret nature of the FISA court has prevented appropriate congressional oversight over the NSA’s activities.

    When asked whether he agreed with those in Washington calling leaker Edward Snowden a traitor, Sensenbrenner responded, “No, I don’t agree,” and said that he would not have known the extent of abuse by the FISA court and the NSA without Snowden’s disclosures.

    The congressman has earlier said he believes the PATRIOT Act needs to be amended to protect Americans’ privacy.

    Meanwhile, the director of the NSA claims that this program disrupted "dozens of attacks".  Not to be flip, but isn't that what they always say? I'm sure that's what they tell TSA agents, too, when they insist they need to keep on grabbing peoples junk.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_NSA_SURVEILLANCE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-06-12-15-14-48

    Quote
    NSA director: Programs disrupted dozens of attacks

    By DONNA CASSATA and CONNIE CASS
    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- The director of the National Security Agency said Wednesday that once-secret surveillance programs disrupted dozens of terrorist attacks, explicitly describing for Congress how the programs worked in collecting Americans' phone records and tapping into their Internet activity.

    Vigorously defending the programs, Gen. Keith Alexander said the public needs to know how the programs operate amid growing concerns that government efforts to secure the nation are encroaching on Americans' privacy and civil liberties.

    "I do think it's important that we get this right and I want the American people to know that we're trying to be transparent here, protect civil liberties and privacy but also the security of this country," Alexander told a Senate panel.

    Alexander said he will provide additional information to the Senate Intelligence Committee in closed session on Thursday and hopes to have as many details as possible within a week. He said he wants the information to be checked first by other agencies to ensure that the details are correct.

    But he also warned that disclosures about the secret programs have eroded agency capabilities and, as a result, U.S. allies and Americans won't be as safe as they were two weeks ago.

    "Some of these are still going to be classified and should be, because if we tell the terrorists every way that we're going to track them, they will get through and Americans will die," he said, adding that he would rather be criticized by people who think he's hiding something "than jeopardize the security of this country."

    He was questioned at length by senators seeking information on exactly how much data the NSA collects and the legal backing for the activities. He did not give details on the terror plots he said had been disrupted.

    Half a world away, Edward Snowden, the former contractor who fled to Hong Kong and leaked the documents, said he's not there to hide from justice and has faith in "the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate."

    "I am neither traitor nor hero. I'm an American," Snowden told the South China Morning Post about his disclosures of top-secret surveillance programs that have rocked Washington.

    Snowden said in the interview published Wednesday that he hasn't dared contact his family or his girlfriend since coming forward as the leaker of NSA documents. "I am worried about the pressure they are feeling from the FBI," he said.

    The FBI visited his father's house in Pennsylvania on Monday.

    Snowden resurfaced in the Chinese newspaper after dropping out of sight since Sunday. Snowden said he wanted to fight the U.S. government in Hong Kong's courts and would stay unless "asked to leave." Hong Kong is a Chinese autonomous region that maintains a Western-style legal system and freedom of speech.

    U.S. law enforcement officials have said they are building a case against Snowden but have yet to bring charges. Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the United States; there are exceptions in cases of political persecution or where there are concerns over cruel or humiliating treatment.

    Snowden told the paper from a location the paper didn't disclose that he has no plans to leave.

    "I have had many opportunities to flee (Hong Kong), but I would rather stay and fight the US government in the courts, because I have faith in (Hong Kong's) rule of law," he said.

    On Tuesday, a phalanx of FBI, legal and intelligence officials briefed the entire House in an attempt to explain National Security Agency programs that collect millions of Americans' phone and Internet records. Since they were revealed last week, the programs have provoked distrust in the Obama administration from around the world.

    House members were told not to disclose information they heard in the briefing because it is classified. Several said they left with unanswered questions.

    "People aren't satisfied," Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., said as he left the briefing Tuesday. "More detail needs to come out."

    While many rank-and-file members of Congress have expressed anger and bewilderment, there is apparently very little appetite among key leaders and intelligence committee chiefs to pursue any action. Most have expressed support for the programs as invaluable counterterror tools and some have labeled Snowden a traitor.

    Congressional leaders and intelligence committee members have been routinely briefed about the spy programs, officials said, and Congress has at least twice renewed laws approving them. But the disclosure of their sheer scope stunned some lawmakers, shocked foreign allies from nations with strict privacy protections and emboldened civil liberties advocates who long have accused the government of being too invasive in the name of national security.

    Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has complained that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper misled a Senate committee in March by denying that the NSA collects data on millions of Americans. On Wednesday, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., called for Clapper to resign.

    "Congress can't make informed decisions on intelligence issues when the head of the intelligence community willfully makes false statements," Amash posted on Facebook.

    Some Congress members acknowledged they'd been caught unawares by the scope of the programs, having skipped previous briefings by the intelligence committees.

    "I think Congress has really found itself a little bit asleep at the wheel," Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said.

    Meanwhile, the Director of National Intelligence is in an awkward spot after saying this:



    www.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/us/nsa-disclosures-put-awkward-light-on-official-statements.html?hp

    Quote
    Earlier Denials Put Intelligence Chief in Awkward Position

    By SCOTT SHANE and JONATHAN WEISMAN
    Published: June 11, 2013

    WASHINGTON — For years, intelligence officials have tried to debunk what they called a popular myth about the National Security Agency: that its electronic net routinely sweeps up information about millions of Americans. In speeches and Congressional testimony, they have suggested that the agency’s immense power is focused exclusively on terrorists and other foreign targets, and that it does not invade Americans’ privacy.

    But since the disclosures last week showing that the agency does indeed routinely collect data on the phone calls of millions of Americans, Obama administration officials have struggled to explain what now appear to have been misleading past statements. Much of the attention has been focused on testimony by James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, to the Senate in March that the N.S.A. was not gathering data on millions of Americans.

    When lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Tuesday for the first time since the N.S.A. disclosures, however, the criticism was muted.

    In carefully delivered statements, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio; Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader; and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, all said the programs were authorized by law and rigorously overseen by Congress and courts.

    In contrast, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Democrat whose questioning prompted Mr. Clapper’s statement in March, stepped up his criticism of how intelligence officials portrayed the surveillance programs and called for public hearings to address the disclosures. “The American people have the right to expect straight answers from the intelligence leadership to the questions asked by their representatives,” he said in a statement.

    And Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, said he had come away from a closed-door briefing by intelligence officials for House members believing that the N.S.A. had too much latitude and too little oversight.

    “Right now we have a situation where the executive branch is getting a billion records a day, and we’re told they will not query that data except pursuant to very clear standards,” Mr. Sherman said. “But we don’t have the courts making sure that those standards are always followed.”

    Many lawmakers trained their sights on Edward J. Snowden, the intelligence contractor who leaked classified documents to The Guardian and The Washington Post. Mr. Boehner called him a traitor.

    Mr. McConnell told reporters: “Given the scope of these programs, it’s understandable that many would be concerned about issues related to privacy. But what’s difficult to understand is the motivation of somebody who intentionally would seek to warn the nation’s enemies of lawful programs created to protect the American people. And I hope that he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

    The comments of the Senate leaders showed a coordinated effort to squelch any legislative move to rein in the surveillance programs. Mr. Reid took the unusual step of publicly slapping back at fellow senators — including senior Democrats — who have suggested that most lawmakers have been kept in the dark about the issue.

    “For senators to complain that they didn’t know this was happening, we had many, many meetings that have been both classified and unclassified that members have been invited to,” Mr. Reid said. “They shouldn’t come and say, ‘I wasn’t aware of this,’ because they’ve had every opportunity.”

    Among lawmakers who have expressed concerns in the past, however, the issues have not been laid to rest. When reporters pressed Mr. Wyden on whether Mr. Clapper had lied to him, he stopped short of making that accusation, but made his discontent clear.

    “The president has said — correctly, in my view — that strong Congressional oversight is absolutely essential in this area,” he said. “It’s not possible for the Congress to do the kind of vigorous oversight that the president spoke about if you can’t get straight answers.”

    At the March Senate hearing, Mr. Wyden asked Mr. Clapper, “Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

    “No, sir,” Mr. Clapper replied. “Not wittingly.”

    Mr. Wyden said on Tuesday that he had sent his question to Mr. Clapper’s office a day before the hearing, and had given his office a chance to correct the misstatement after the hearing, but to no avail.

    In an interview on Sunday with NBC News, Mr. Clapper acknowledged that his answer had been problematic, calling it “the least untruthful” answer he could give.

    Michael V. Hayden, the former director of both the N.S.A. and the C.I.A., said he considered Mr. Wyden’s question unfair, given the classified subject. “There’s not another country in the world where that question would have been asked and answered in a public session,” he said.

    Some other statements of N.S.A. officials appear in retrospect to offer a mistaken impression of the agency’s collection of information about Americans. Mr. Wyden said he had pressed Mr. Clapper on the matter because he had been dissatisfied with what he felt were misleading answers from Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the N.S.A. director. And in a recent speech, the N.S.A.’s general counsel, Rajesh De, sought to debunk what he called “false myths” about the agency, including the idea that “N.S.A. is spying on Americans at home and abroad with questionable or no legal basis.”

    While that may be literally true — there is a legal basis — it appears awkward in retrospect that Mr. De’s defense of the agency failed to mention its collection of phone data on Americans.

    “It’s a fine line he was treading,” said Matthew M. Aid, an intelligence historian and author of “The Secret Sentry,” a 2009 book on the N.S.A. “But trying to talk around these secret programs just makes matters worse.”

    The solution, he said, is for intelligence officials to share more information about what the N.S.A. does and why. “Actually be forthright with the American people,” he said.

    Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Tuesday that she had asked General Alexander to declassify more information about the surveillance programs — like terrorist plots that might have been foiled — to help explain their usefulness.

    “If we can get that declassified, we can speak much more clearly,” she said.

    And finally, on what I'm sure is a completely unrelated note, the IRS executed a search warrant and apparently seized some sixty million medical records from a California health care provider.

    http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/12/house-committee-looks-into-irs-seizure-of-60-million-medical-records/

    Quote
    House committee looks into IRS seizure of 60 million medical records


    Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are looking into allegations that the Internal Revenue Service seized 60 million medical records from a California health care provider.

    “(T)he Committee on Energy and Commerce is investigating allegations that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in the course of executing a search warrant at a California health care provider’s corporate headquarters in March 2011, improperly seized the personal medical records of millions of American citizens in possible violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” members of the committee wrote in a letter Tuesday to Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel.

    The letter to Werfel, which requires a response by June 25, comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by an unnamed health-care provider against the IRS in California Superior Court.

    The lawsuit alleged that 15 IRS agents improperly stole medical records during search of the facility in March 2011, according to a report about the incident from Court House News.

    The search warrant the agents were executing, the committee noted in citing the Court House News report, was allegedly limited to financial records of a former employee of the company, not medical records. (RELATED: IRS seeks to buy hidden cameras, surveillance equipment)

    “In light of these allegations and in anticipation of the IRS’s increased role in implementing health care under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we are writing to request information regarding your agency’s ability to both protect the confidential medical information of millions of Americans and respect the safeguards imposed by HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act],” the letter reads.

    The IRS did not immediately respond to request for comment.

    What a circus.
    ArizonaMOLON LABE

    Retired Bomb Guy
    Semi-Pro Hack Writer

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