I ran across a story in the Guardian on Friday that sent me on a document hunt. Congressman Alan Grayson wrote a piece in which he referenced the Pike Committee investigation of the CIA:
"Congressional oversight of the NSA is a joke. I should know, I'm in Congress." Alan Grayson. The Guardian, Friday 25 October 2013.
In the 1970s, Congressman Otis Pike of New York chaired a special congressional committee to investigate abuses by the American so-called "intelligence community" – the spies. After the investigation, Pike commented:
'It took this investigation to convince me that I had always been told lies, to make me realize that I was tired of being told lies. I'm tired of the spies telling lies, too.'
Pike's investigation initiated one of the first congressional oversight debates for the vast and hidden collective of espionage agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA). Before the Pike Commission, Congress was kept in the dark about them – a tactic designed to thwart congressional deterrence of the sometimes illegal and often shocking activities carried out by the "intelligence community". Today, we are seeing a repeat of this professional voyeurism by our nation's spies, on an unprecedented and pervasive scale.
Jumping on to JJ"s post on National Security Archive and Snowden resource documents, the Washington Post recently published its analysis and interesting infographic of the $52.6 billion dollar "black budget" of the US Intelligence agencies ( [attached PDF of infographic]. The Washington Post has released 17 pages of the top-secret 178-page budget summary for the National Intelligence Program that was leaked by Edward Snowden (attached and below).
The nongovernmental National Security Archive at The George Washington University has posted a compilation of over 125 documents to provide context and specifics about the about "The Snowden Affair."
- The Snowden Affair Web Resource Documents the Latest Firestorm over the National Security Agency. National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 436 (September 4, 2013) Edited by Jeffrey T. Richelson.
This "Web Resource" includes documents from the White House, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and the National Security Agency (NSA), and more.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created an extensive Timeline of NSA Domestic Spying that refers to legislation, reports, hearings, events, and leaked documents. It details laws and earlier programs (e.g. Total Information Awareness) that predate the most recent revelations. (It begins in 1791!) It has links to documents and hearings that make it a virtual bibliography and more than a simple list of events. EFF notes that:
All of the evidence found in this timeline can also be found in the Summary of Evidence we submitted to the court in Jewel v. National Security Agency (NSA). It is intended to recall all the credible accounts and information of the NSA's domestic spying program found in the media, congressional testimony, books, and court actions. The timeline also includes documents leaked by the Guardian in June 2013 that confirmed the domestic spying by the NSA.
ProPublica has put together a set of 6 videos + analysis debunking claims about NSA surveillance -- much of which has been leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported by Glenn Greenwald in the UK Guardian newspaper -- by Obama administration officials like Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Director of NSA General Keith Alexander, and President Obama himself.
And for those of you really worried about where we find ourselves in terms of the surveillance state, you should watch the new documentary "Terms and Conditions May Apply." here's the trailer:
According to the Huffington Post, The NSA has deleted its own published fact sheets on Section 702 of FISA and Section 215 of PATRIOT Act. Luckily someone saved the document and we've attached it here for public perusal. This is exactly the reason why FDLP libraries need to be in place to preserve public domain govt publications, even the ones that are embarrassing or describe govt illegality. Govt publications in 1200 libraries are difficult to expunge from the public record.
A day after coming under fire from congressional critics, the National Security Agency is trying to flush a controversial surveillance "fact sheet" down the memory hole.
That fact sheet was supposed to explain how the NSA interprets and uses section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the part of the law that underpins the agency's PRISM data collection program. But after Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-Colo.) asserted in a letter that the NSA's explanation contained a "significant" inaccuracy, the agency pulled the FISA fact sheet from its website on Tuesday, delivering users instead a server error.
In a letter to the senators, Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, said he "agree(d)" that the fact sheet "could have more precisely described the requirements for collection." He pointed them to the text of the law for further information on how the program works.
NSA spokeswoman Judith Emmel addressed the removal of the fact sheet in a statement. "Given the intense interest from the media, the public, and Congress, we believe the precision of the source document (the statute) is the best possible representation of applicable authorities," she said.
In a recent court decision the National Security Agency acknowledged working "with a broad range of commercial partners and research associates" but it obtained from the court the right to keep secret documents that may, or may not, show a working relationship with Google.
- NSA spooks win fight to keep secret possible ties to Google, by Mike Doyle, Suits & Sentences legal affairs blog, McClatchy Newspapers (July 13, 2011).
In a decision made public Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon denied a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the curious souls at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. EPIC sought documents relating to NSA's possible relationship with Google following news of an alleged cyber attack by hackers in China and of a subsequent cooperation agreement between Google and NSA.
- EPIC v. NSA: Agency Can "Neither Confirm Nor Deny" Google Ties, EPIC (July 13, 2011).
Secrecy News has details and documents about the plea deal in the case of former National Security Agency official Thomas A. Drake who says he shared NSA information with The Baltimore Sun in an attempt to save taxpayers' money and strengthen national security:
- Settlement Reached in Thomas Drake “Leak” Case, by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News (June 10th, 2011).
See a detailed report on the case here:
- The Secret Sharer: Is Thomas Drake an enemy of the state?, by Jane Mayer New Yorker (May 23, 2011).
Binney expressed terrible remorse over the way some of his algorithms were used after 9/11. ThinThread, the "little program" that he invented to track enemies outside the U.S., "got twisted," and was used for both foreign and domestic spying: "I should apologize to the American people. It's violated everyone's rights. It can be used to eavesdrop on the whole world." According to Binney, Drake took his side against the N.S.A.'s management and, as a result, became a political target within the agency.
Back on September 18, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee chaired by John Conyers (D-Michigan) held a hearing entitled "Warrantless Surveillance and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act". In that hearing, Conyers posed some questions to the Justice Department to get at the Department’s views on the legal framework governing electronic surveillance under the amended Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) -- we've been tracking FISA for some time on FGI. The Committee hearing volume (pdf) was published in June 2008 without the Justice Department’s answers to these questions, because they were provided to Congress too late to be included in the published record.
As you might remember, back in December, 2005 the NY Times broke a story about the Bush administration secretly authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials. FAS as well as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other civil liberties organizations have been tracking the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.
Many thanks to Steven Aftergood and the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) for submitting a FOIA request to make public Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein's written responses to those questions posed about this important program and bringing to light the legal perspective that held sway within the Bush administration's Justice Department.
“If the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) was perfectly legal as has been claimed, why would companies who cooperated in it need immunity?” the Committee asked. (To protect classified information, among other reasons, the Department responded.) “Is the President free to disregard any provisions of FISA with which he disagrees?” (No, not exactly.) “If an individual in the United States is suspected of working in collusion with persons outside the United States–such that an investigation of one is in effect the investigation of the other–under what circumstances, generally, would you use criminal or other FISA wiretaps?” (Targeting of persons in the United States can only be done under FISA procedures.)
The recent "alliance" between the National Security Agency, (one of the most secret and secretive members of the U.S. intelligence community), and Google has brought up more questions than answers. Here are some recent stories:
- Google to enlist NSA to help it ward off cyberattacks, By Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post (February 4,
"The world's largest Internet search company and the world's most powerful electronic surveillance organization are teaming up in the name of cybersecurity."
- Google Asks Spy Agency for Help With Inquiry Into Cyberattacks, By JOHN MARKOFF, New York Times (February 4, 2010).
'By turning to the N.S.A., which has no statutory authority to investigate domestic criminal acts, instead of the Department of Homeland Security, which does have such authority, Google is clearly seeking to avoid having its search engine, e-mail and other Web services regulated as part of the nation’s "critical infrastructure."'
- 'Don't Be Evil,' Meet 'Spy on Everyone': How the NSA Deal Could Kill Google, By Noah Shachtman, Wired (February 4, 2010).
"The company pinkie-swears that its agreement with the NSA won’t violate the company's privacy policies or compromise user data. Those promises are a little hard to believe, given the NSA's track record of getting private enterprises to cooperate, and Google’s willingness to take this first step."
- Google, NSA ‘alliance’ has privacy advocate alarmed, By Stephen C. Webster, Raw Story, (February 4th, 2010).
- EPIC Seeks Records on Google-NSA Relationship, Electronic Privacy Information Center (February 4, 2010).
See also: Privacy: "I have nothing to hide".