NSA

Latest FISA Court Doc Dump Shows How Little Anybody at NSA Knew Anything About Its Surveillance Processes

|

Weren't these declassifications supposed to increase our confidence in what the NSA is doing?

In August, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (that's James Clapper) declassified and released a treasure trove of partly redacted documents related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court discovering that the federal government's Internet surveillance was scooping up thousands of Internet transactions it shouldn't have been able to access. The court was surprised to discover this was going on without its knowledge.

Pushed down in the footnotes of one of these documents was the note that this was actually the third such incident that the surveillance authorized by the FISA Court did not actually operate the way it was described to the court, leaving the court to find out later that rules were being broken.

Today, another release of FISA Court documents (thanks to continued pressure by the Electronic Frontier Foundation) details more about one of those footnoted situations. Via Politico:

National Security Agency personnel regularly searched call tracking data using thousands of numbers that had not been vetted in accordance with court-ordered procedures, according to previously secret legal filings and court opinions released by the Obama administration Tuesday.

The agency also falsely certified to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that analysts and technicians were complying with the court's insistence that searches only be done with numbers that had a "reasonable, articulable suspicion" of terrorism, according to a senior intelligence official who briefed reporters prior to release of the documents.

The unauthorized searches went on for about three years until they were discovered in March 2009.

An internal inquiry into the misstatements also found that no one at the NSA understood how the entire call-tracking program worked. "There was nobody at NSA who really had a full idea of how the program was operating at the time," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ultimately, only a tiny number of phone numbers being queried – about 2,000 out of 17,000 phone numbers – had met any sort of threshold for "reasonable, articulable suspicion." Clapper said today that the NSA itself discovered this violation (after three years) and reported it to the FISA Court.

Follow this story and more at Reason 24/7.

Spice up your blog or Website with Reason 24/7 news and Reason articles. You can get the widgets here. If you have a story that would be of interest to Reason's readers please let us know by emailing the 24/7 crew at 24_7@reason.com, or tweet us stories at @reason247.

Advertisement

NEXT: Donald Trump to Open Hotel in D.C.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Clapper said today that the NSA itself discovered this violation (after three years) and reported it to the FISA Court.

    See, the system works!

    1. no one at the NSA understood how the entire call-tracking program worked.

      See, your secrets are safe!

  2. [blockquote]The unauthorized searches went on for about three years until they were discovered in March 2009.[/blockquote]

    No doubt discovered by Obama himself shortly after first entering the Oval Office! :swoon:

    1. [blockquote]The unauthorized searches went on for about three years until they were discovered in March 2009.[/blockquote]

      Try angles instead of squares.

  3. “This was actually the third such incident that the surveillance authorized by the FISA Court did not actually operate the way it was described to the court.”

    I wouldn’t worry about it too much though since, you know, Obama’s the president and everything.

  4. No oversight, no accountability, no understanding. Those are key when putting together a massive, powerful domestic surveillance system.

    At this point I’m fairly certain they can disclose NSA staff regularly viewed the email contents of FISA Court judges and there will still be zero consequences to the individuals involved.

    1. Don’t worry. As long as we keep the Republicans out of office, everything will be okay.

      1. If you’re not outraged, you’re a Democrat.

        1. I’m disgusted by the rise in federal spending – which is 100% on the GOP.

          2001-09 spending went from $1.9 trillion to $3.5 trillion.

          And SINCE then (2009) spending is flat for four years.

          1. You’re keeping in step
            And in line
            Got your chin held high and you feel just fine
            Cause you do what you’re told
            But inside your heart it is black, it is hollow, it is cold

            Just how deep do you believe?
            Will you bite the hand that feeds?
            Will you chew until it bleeds?
            Can you get up off your knees?
            Are you brave enough to see?
            Do you want to change it?

            What if this whole crusade’s
            A charade
            And behind it all there’s a price to be paid
            For the blood
            On which we dine
            Justified in the name of the holy and the divine

            Just how deep do you believe?
            Will you bite the hand that feeds?
            Will you chew until it bleeds?
            Can you get up off your knees?
            Are you brave enough to see?
            Do you want to change it?

            So naive
            I keep holding on to what I want to believe
            I can see
            But I keep holding on and on and on and on

            Will you bite the hand that feeds you?
            Will you stay down on your knees?

          2. I don’t understand. Are you complaining that Obama hasn’t been able to raise spending?

      2. Sean Hannity – “Only white Republicans can be Christian.”

        Yeah – Dirtbag Hannity said that.

        1. Link? Not that I’m a fan of Hannity, or would defend him if he said such a thing, but a google search on that exact quote resulted in no links to such a quote, and I’m pretty sure it would be pretty easy to find something on that quote if it was indeed legit.

        2. yea and what is even worse is that Senator Frankenstein said:

          “Congress job is to passes laws and it is up to the Courts to decide whether they are Constitutional”

          *face palm*

          1. here is it in video for proof….fucking socialist pig

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bzb9Hs2SmfQ

            1. I always felt like one of those guys sitting behind her should of slapped her on the head. Then maybe she wouldn’t have jumped around so much. Guns…Newtown….Jimmy Buffett….Heller…..My Little Pony….. Whack. Fixed it, she was on shuffle.

    2. Well you can never have too much government oversight, so lets hire a couple of hundred more government employees, that will clear this whole mess up. Right? Right?

  5. Now that the iPhone will capture your fingerprint, how long will it be until AT&T shares these with the NSA? Everyone’s fingerprints on file along with their medical records and bank routing info. Wonderful.

    1. Think of the upside: instant Form 4 approval for purchase of NFA firearms.

      I crack me up.

    2. exactly. The government has enough surveillance to know the rough location of any person living in the 21st century. If you own a car go in the public where cameras are and own a cell phone the government knows where you are and who you see and where you go…that is just the tip of the iceberg.

      1. Just the tip? Just to see how it feels.

        1. yea had 90-99% of the population is ok with the feelings -_- We are doomed unless more of the public gets pissed

    3. And it’ll all be stored inside a giant shambling monstrosity of an insecure database. Operated and monitored by community organizers and dedicated government employees who couldn’t quite make the cut for a career as a TSA shoe-inspector.

  6. I’m disgusted by the rise in federal spending

    More free online games at http://www.powerdoggames.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.