Author Topic: Documents Show Years of Problems in NSA Programs  (Read 315 times)

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Documents Show Years of Problems in NSA Programs
« on: November 19, 2013, 12:57:53 PM »
Via the WSJ:

The National Security Agency repeatedly mishandled a program to collect data on American Internet communications, such as email, according to newly released documents that provide a glimpse into possible reasons that program was shut down in 2011.

The documents underscore a continuing theme of many of the secret court opinions declassified in recent months: systems that are complex and difficult to operate, even for the NSA. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge John Bates cites “serious compliance problems” and “frequent failures” to comply with court orders.

The documents were among approximately 2,000 some pages of court orders, opinions, and internal NSA documents released by the Director of National Intelligence Monday evening pursuant to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online rights group.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement that the document release reflected the government’s “continued commitment to making information about this intelligence collection program publicly available when appropriate and consistent with the national security of the United States.”

Legal and privacy experts continued poring over them Tuesday to hunt for new details about NSA’s surveillance programs and how they have been executed.

“These materials show the danger of a government that sidesteps public debate and instead grounds its surveillance powers in the secret opinions of a secret court,” said ACLU attorney Patrick Toomey. “The more we learn, the clearer it is that our surveillance laws and oversight rules are in dramatic need of reform.”

In yet another case of NSA unwittingly violating American privacy, the agency for years —the specific length of time was blacked out of a released document—violated the order of a secret national security court by collecting more data than it was authorized to obtain.

The heavily redacted documents described the initial and subsequent authorizations of the Internet program and paint a picture of an aggressive NSA that was seeking to obtain as much data as possible. The dates of the authorizations are blacked out, but previously leaked documents have pegged the authorization of the program to 2004.

One court document notes that the “sweeping and non-targeted scope” of the NSA’s Internet data collection program was “consistent” with the government’s then-secret interpretation of the requirement in surveillance law that data it collects must be “relevant” to a terrorism investigation.

The U.S. government secretly has argued that all records are relevant because they are required to build a database in which NSA could track possible terrorism leads, even if it included records of millions of people not under suspicion.

The documents released Monday cast more light on that interpretation. They noted that the government’s argument that such so-called bulk collection could be relevant because it is necessary for NSA to employ “analytic tools [that] are likely to generate investigative leads.” To do that, a large volume of data is required to identify a much smaller number of leads, such as people affiliated with suspected terrorists.

More at link, including a link to the actual documents as a pdf file.
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