How many Americans are swept up in the NSA’s snooping programs?

Eye of the Police State

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper famously (or infamously) told Congress the National Security Agency did not “wittingly” collect data on Americans. That turned out to be false.

More recently, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked the current director of national intelligence, Dan Coats whether the government could use Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act “to collect communications it knows are entirely domestic.”

“Not to my knowledge. That would be illegal,” Coats responded.

However, a subsequent letter from Coats’ office to Wyden’s office suggests the director’s answer was incomplete. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence clarified that “section 702(b)(4) plainly states we ‘may not intentionally acquire any communication as to which the sender and all intended recipients are known at the time of acquisition to be located in the United States.’ The DNI interpreted Senator Wyden’s question to ask about this provision and answered accordingly.”

Wyden has since gone on record with his contention that the DNI did not answer his question, requesting the office provide a public response. The exchange offers insight into how intelligence agencies use semantics to obfuscate their activities, while also illustrating the frustration many privacy advocates and lawmakers encounter in the search for Section 702 surveillance transparency.

FISA Section 702 authorizes two major NSA snooping programs. One is “upstream” collection, a process in which the NSA collects digital communications through the internet’s backbone — undersea cables that process large volumes of internet traffic, which internet service providers send to the government. The government attempts to sort the data for foreign targets’ information and then is supposed to discard the rest.

We know some Americans’ information is retained when they communicate with a target, though minimization procedures are in place to protect their identities. Until recently, the information also could be swept up if they communicated “about” a target. The NSA recently announced it was ending “about” collection in the wake of a series of compliance incidents and privacy concerns. Some other Americans’ data may be swept up due to “technological limitations that affect scope of collection.” In other words, the NSA hasn’t invested in infrastructure that can narrow their collection.

The problem is that we do not know how many Americans are swept up in 702 surveillance. We do not even have a rough estimate. A recent letter from privacy groups admonished Coats for refusing to provide information on the number of Americans swept up in 702 collection — information that both he and his predecessor had promised to deliver.

Coats’ intransigence follows a familiar pattern of the NSA promising transparency and then reneging on those promises. Indeed, for the past six years the agency has flummoxed congressional oversight, with its reluctance to give the public hard data on this matter. When a powerful bureaucracy ignores both civil-society groups and its constitutional overseers, what is the solution?

Read More: thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/homeland-security/342024-how-many-americans-are-swept-up-in-the-nsas-snooping

Declassified Memos Show Obama’s NSA Spied On Americans Way More Than You Thought

SpiedOnUs

Back in May the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) found that the National Security Agency (NSA), under former President Obama, routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall.   

 “The October 26, 2016 Notice disclosed that an NSA Inspector General (IG) review…indicated that, with greater frequency than previously disclosed to the Court, NSA analysts had used U.S.-person identifiers to query the result of Internet “upstream” collection, even though NSA’s section 702 minimization procedures prohibited such queriesthis disclosure gave the Court substantial concern.”

FISA

The court order went on to reveal that NSA analysts had been conducting illegal queries targeting American citizens “with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the Court”…an issue which the court described as a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

“Since 2011, NSA’s minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collection under Section 702.  The October 26, 2016 Notice informed the Court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the Court.”

“At the October 26, 2016 hearing, the Court ascribed the government’s failure to disclose those IG and OCO reviews at the October 4, 2016 hearing to an institutional ‘lack of candor’ on NSA’s part and emphasized that ‘this is a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.'”

FISA

Now, new memos obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) via a FOIA request detail even more violations that occurred during the Obama administration which include everything from illegally survielling people on U.S. soil to sharing unredacted documents that included unmasked names of American citizens.  The Hill reviewed the memos and offered the following summary details:

 For instance, the government admitted improperly searching NSA’s foreign intercept data on multiple occasions, including one instance in which an analyst ran the same search query about an American “every work day” for a period between 2013 and 2014.

There also were several instances in which Americans’ unmasked names were improperly shared inside the intelligence community without being redacted, a violation of the so-called minimization procedures that President Obama loosened in 2011 that are supposed to protect an Americans’ identity from disclosure when they are intercepted without a warrant. Numerous times improperly unmasked information about Americans had to be recalled and purged after the fact, the memos stated.

“CIA and FBI received unminimized data from many Section 702-tasked facilities and at times are thus required to conduct similar purges,” one report noted.

“NSA issued a report which included the name of a United States person whose identity was not foreign intelligence,”said one typical incident report from 2015, which said the NSA eventually discovered the error and “recalled” the information.

Likewise, the FBI disclosed three instances between December 2013 and February 2014 of “improper disseminations of U.S. persons identities.”

Samples of other violations included:

  • Numerous “overcollection incidents” where the NSA gathered information about foreigners or Americans it wasn’t entitled to intercept
  • “Isolated instances in which NSA may not have complied with the documentation requests” justifying intercepts or searches of intercepted data.
  • The misuse of “overly broad” queries or specific U.S. person terms to search through NSA data.
  • Failures to timely purge NSA databases of improperly collected intelligence, such as a 2014 incident in which “NSA reported a gap in its purge discovery processes.”

Americans should be alarmed that the NSA is vacuuming up their emails and phone calls without a warrant,” said Patrick Toomey, an ACLU staff attorney in New York who helped pursue the FOIA litigation. “The NSA claims it has rules to protect our privacy, but it turns out those rules are weak, full of loopholes, and violated again and again.”

“If I were still in Congress today, I might vote with the people today to shut the program down or curtail it,” Hoekstrak, who has been tapped by Trump to be ambassador to the Netherlands, said in an interview.

Of course, the NSA would like for you to take solace in the fact that they spy on you so much that the 1,000’s of reported violations only amount to ~1% of the estimated “taskings.”

In annual and quarterly compliance reports that have been released in recent years, U.S. intelligence agencies have estimated the number of Section 702 violations has averaged between 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent of the total number of “taskings.” A tasking is an intelligence term that reflects a request to intercept a specific phone number or email address.

“Quite simply, a compliance program that never finds an incident is not a robust compliance program,” said Michael T. Halbig, the NSA’s chief spokesman. “…The National Security Agency has in place a strong compliance program that identifies incidents, reports them to external overseers, and then develops appropriate solutions to remedy any incidents.”

Though we do wonder whether our government would be as dismissive if American citizens just decided to keep 1% of the taxes they owe each year…somehow we suspect the IRS wouldn’t be so forgiving of such a ‘small’ error-rate.

Read More: www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-26/declassified-memos-show-obamas-nsa-spied-americans-way-more-you-thought

FBI Seized Crushed Hard Drives From Home Of Wasserman-Schultz’ IT Aide

Over the past few months, the story of the Awan brothers has been largely ignored by mainstream media. However, the Pakistani-born brothers Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan are at the center of a criminal investigation by U.S. Capital Hill Police and the FBI.  While official charges have not yet been filed, allegations of wrong doing vary from simply overcharging taxpayers for congressional IT equipment to blackmailing members of Congress with secrets captured from emails.

The Awan brothers were Pakistani IT specialists, whom worked for more than 30 house and senate democrats, as well as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The substantial scandal has raised questions about who may have been passed data which the Awans had access to, given Pakistan’s history of collaborating with a number of foreign countries who have demonstrated past willingness to influence U.S. politics.

Now, per an exclusive report from the Daily Caller, we learn that the twisted plot surrounding the Awan brothers has grown even more interesting as FBI agents have reportedly seized a number of “smashed hard drives” and other computer equipment from their former residence in Virginia.

FBI agents seized smashed computer hard drives from the home of Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s information technology (IT) administrator, according to an individual who was interviewed by Bureau investigators in the case and a high level congressional source.

Pakistani-born Imran Awan, long-time right-hand IT aide to the former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman, has since desperately tried to get the hard drives back, the individual told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.

The congressional source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe, confirmed that the FBI has joined what Politico previously described as a Capitol Police criminal probe into “serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network” by Imran and three of his relatives, who had access to the emails and files of the more than two dozen House Democrats who employed them on a part-time basis.

Capitol Police have also seized computer equipment tied to the Florida lawmaker.

Read More: www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/fbi-seized-crushed-hard-drives-home-wasserman-schultz-it-aide

Seth Rich Investigator Accusations Debunked By Own Interviews As Seymour Hersh Leak Kills Russia Story

His name was Seth Rich

Oh, and there’s an Awan Connection…

Yesterday, a private investigator in the Seth Rich murder case hired by the family of the slain DNC staffer filed a lawsuit against Fox5 news and GOP financier Ed Butowsky for misrepresenting statements he made in order to”shift the blame from Russia and help put to bed speculation that President Trump colluded with Russia…” because “that is the way the President wanted the article,” the suit alleges.

 

The plaintiff, former D.C. Police detective Rod Wheeler, also asserts that the Trump administration was directly involved with the story. Butowsky, who paid for Wheeler’s investigation on behalf of the Rich family, arranged a sit-down meeting with former Press Secretary Sean Spicer to brief him on Wheeler’s findings. While Spicer acknowledges the meeting, he told NPR that he only agreed to it as a favor, and he wasn’t aware of any Trump involvement in the Fox5 article.

Butowsky later boasted to Wheeler that President Trump had personally reviewed the Fox story prior to publication – a statement he now says was a joke.

“Young Virginia Democrat” Sentenced To Prison For Registering Dead People To Vote | Zero Hedge

 I voted

Last October, we wrote about “Young Virginia Democrat” Andrew Spieles, a student at James Madison University, and apparently “Lead Organizer” for HarrisonburgVOTES, who got caught registering dead people to vote.  At the time, the founder of the organization, Joseph Fitzgerald, told reporters that he had no knowledge of Spieles’ actions and no idea “what his motivations were”.

“He’s smart, and he understands the [political] process,” Fitzgerald told the Daily News-Record of Spieles. “Who the hell knows what his motivations were?”

And while we agree it’s always difficult to be 100% sure about anyone’s motivations, we said at the time that we would be willing to put money on it having something to do with registering a bunch of dead people and then having them all vote for Hillary in November….just a hunch.

Now, it appears that the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia has agreed with our initial assessment and has sentenced Spiels to prison time for his efforts.  Per a local CBS affiliate, Spiels will spend 100-120 days behind bars.

James Madison University student Andrew J. Spieles, 21, of Harrisonburg, pled guilty Monday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. As part of the plea agreement, Spieles agreed to a prison sentence of 100 to 120 days.

Spieles worked for Harrisonburg Votes when he committed the crime, according to acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle.

Harrisonburg Votes is a political organization affiliated with the Democratic Party.

Read More: www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-27/young-virginia-democrat-gets-prison-time-registering-dead-people-vote-hillary

Loretta Lynch and Senate Democrats call for subverting President Trump with marches, blood, and death

“I know that this is a time of great fear and uncertainty for so many people. I know this is a time of concern for people who see our rights being assailed, being trampled on, and even being rolled back.

I know that this is difficult, but I remind you that this has never been easy. We have always had to work to move this country forward to achieve the great ideals of our founding fathers, and that it has been people — individuals who have banded together — ordinary people who simply saw what needed to be done and came together and supported those ideals who have made the difference. They marched, they bled. Yes, some of them have died. This is hard. Every good thing is. We have done this before. We can do this again.

Read More: www.dcclothesline.com/2017/03/06/former-ag-loretta-lynch-and-senate-democrats-call-for-subverting-president-trump-with-marches-blood-and-death/

Mark Levin Discusses Obama Admin Wiretapping….

Could also be titled: Can’t Believe I Have to link to FOX.

This is an annoying clip, but the information is hard to deny.

Obviously Obama didn’t have to order the wiretapping himself but the fact is that his administration was tapping Trump and even though nothing was found, that information was illegally going to the press and Clinton team before and after the election to try to undermine the Trump administration with unsubstantiated, and outright false claims.

 

Mr. President, Your Predecessor Actually Wire Tapped ALL Of Our Phones…

SpiedOnUs

President Trump went on a Tweet storm this morning, presumably because at some point in the last 24 hours he learned that his predecessor President Obama reportedly “wire tapped” the phone lines in Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign.

In the process of tweeting, the President actually confirmed what many of us already know – we are being actively monitored by a domestic police state.

We can fully sympathize with the President’s outrage over being wiretapped, but it should be no surprise to our readers. Back in 2011 we noted, to accusations of being conspiracy theorists, that everything Americans do is being monitored, including real-time monitoring of our locations, conversations and even video.

At the time, our claims may have seemed ridiculous to most Americans. However, it was soon revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that U.S. intelligence agencies had an incredible new program designed to do exactly what we originally described: full-on monitoring of literally every digital interaction in the world. We’re talking emails, phone calls and even the ability to remotely and secretly turn on the microphone and camera on your digital devices.

The conspiracy theory once again turned out to be conspiracy fact.

Read More: www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/mr-president-your-predecessor-actually-wire-tapped-all-of-our-phones-what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it_03042017