Surveillance

Director of National Intelligence Responds to the World Finding Out About PRISM

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"Nothing to see here, folks. Move along."
Official portrait

Here's the formal response to today's scoops by The Washington Post and The Guardian about the National Security Agency's secret Internet tracking program:

The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  They contain numerous inaccuracies.

Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States.  It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.

Activities authorized by Section 702 are subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. They involve extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about U.S. persons.

Section 702 was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate.

Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. 

The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.

James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence 

Note that he says only foreigners outside the U.S. can be "targeted." But that's not quite what happens, according to the Washington Post:

Even when the system works just as advertised, with no American singled out for targeting, the NSA routinely collects a great deal of American content. That is described as "incidental," and it is inherent in contact chaining, one of the basic tools of the trade. To collect on a suspected spy or foreign terrorist means, at minimum, that everyone in the suspect's inbox or outbox is swept in. Intelligence analysts are typically taught to chain through contacts two "hops" out from their target, which increases "incidental collection" exponentially. The same math explains the aphorism, from the John Guare play, that no one is more than "six degrees of separation" from any other person.

The Post has updated their report signficantly since posted earlier, so it's worth a reread.

NEXT: Who Cares if NSA Snooping Is Legal? It's Still Disgusting.

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  1. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.

    Gov’t people make me so angry sometimes.

    1. I like to imagine myself as the elephant in this clip, and the maladaptive snot as Elmer.

  2. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.

    See? There are words on a piece of paper that say we can’t be doing bad stuff.

    Just like there’s a law that says we can’t create a national registry of gun owners, just ignore our national registry of gun owners.

    1. “See? There are words on a piece of paper that say we can’t be doing bad stuff.”

      But Citizens United? That’s just horrible! The first amendment is negotiable!

  3. Just like there’s a law that says we can’t create a national registry of gun owners, just ignore our national registry of gun owners.

    Exactly. Anyone who believes that deserves to have their ass licked clean by James “Snaggle-toothed Shit Eater” Clapper.

    Seriously, did you see that picture up there? That dude’s a fucking freak.

    1. Many an H&R commenter is a freak, GBN, are you sure that’s the term you want to use to insult him?

  4. “[The reports] contain numerous inaccuracies,” but yet the disclosure of this information is “reprehensible.”

    Ok.

  5. Section 702 was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate.

    Well as long there’s extensive hearings and debate… barf

  6. Jon Gabriel via Twitter: “With all these Obama scandals piling up, I bet the next #SNL episode will have some hilarious Sarah Palin jokes.”

    1. I don’t doubt. The shuitheads of the world are looking for any possible misdirection,

  7. Hey, shithead! Tell us about how wonderful the liar-in-chief is!

    1. OB’s already gone to bed to suck on his Obama-shaped pacifier.

    2. “b-b-b-b-ut booosh”
      /or something

      1. Dubya looms eternal.

  8. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.

    Let’s round up the whistleblowers!

    Hey, Clapper, why don’t you Clap Off.

  9. Guys, what we need to remember is that these tools are essential for national security. Why all this eavesdropping and record collecting were instrumental in stopping the would-be Boston bombers. Oh, wait…

    1. Boston bombers were clear proof that there’s not enough surveilance happening. More Stasi, but, you know, the good kind of Stasi…

  10. So, it seems to be a food-chain:

    Fedfucks vacuum up all the phone calls and data, then run mining models to get the ‘nuggets.’

    Redfucks in China hack Fedfucks, steal said nuggets.

    Goldman Sachs somehow gets paid by both fucks for some reason connected to this.

  11. I, for one, am glad that someone is finally bringing some sensibility to this “debate.”

    It’s high time that all the hand-wringers out there wise up and recognize that the government needs these tools to protect us and our freedoms. Don’t you see? We can’t have a free press and any kind of privacy if the terrorists and Russians win.

    This is war, the regular “rules” do not apply in the same way that the did during the mid-late 90’s. I mean look what happened: The Cold War ended and we loosened things up thinking we didn’t have any real threats. From our brief period of weakness Islamists seized upon an opportunity and attacked us many many times.

    We should all be so thankful that the President is willing to carry the burden of keeping us safe. I can’t imagine what it must be like to read those threat assessments everyday and living with all that pressure. He is truly a saint. Honestly, if he was a Catholic, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets canonized in the future.

  12. Yay! The most transparent totalitarian regime in history!

    1. Our business is rejoicing

  13. A glorious moment is slipping us by.

    Numerous individuals and companies with big bucks and unique positions in the “information age” have an opportunity to execute a stunning
    “Fuck You That’s Why” Judo flip to the U.S. Government.

    Imagine if Yahoo, Verizon, Google, Apple, ad nauseum issued a simple, joint statement to that effect as they refused to allow the Feds access to their private data.

    1. /You may say I’m a dreamer….

    2. I’d support them. I think many would. Of course, they needn’t say no to valid, constitutional warrants.

  14. Well now that makes a lot of sense dude.

    http://www.AnonStuff.tk

  15. The original story was that PRISM was collecting data on all Verizon customers , correct? So is Clapper saying the story is not true? Was the original story scaremongering by suggesting that NSA was casting a wider net than it actually was?

  16. Section 702 … cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.

    Instead of making pronouncements like this, Clapper should make a detailed technical public presentation showing exactly how such prevention is implemented.

    *Then* he can laugh up his sleeve about the meaning of “intentionally target”.

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