Friday, August 16, 2013

Spy vs. Spy Citizen

What did the "infamous" Snowden leaks tell us? Many things, and we're still learning, but here's one, via Joan McCarter of Kos, reported by the WaPo:
NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds
By Barton Gellman, Published: August 15

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans
NSA vs, Us
or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans. A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a “large number” of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused the U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a “quality assurance” review that was not distributed to the NSA’s oversight staff.

In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has authority over some NSA operations, did not learn about a new collection method until it had been in operation for many months. The court ruled it unconstitutional.

(Bolds mine. - SB) Please read the whole thing. It will provide you your morning dose of confidence in the competency and goodwill of this most important government agency. [/irony]

UPDATE: Bryan has some additional insight, and a link to some rather trenchant observations by Charles Pierce.

1 comment:

  1. It is going to take a super-sized version of 'willing suspension of disbelief' to convince me that someone accidentally typed in a three digit number instead of a two digit number, i.e. 202 vice 20. They wanted the calls coming from DC and had the 'oops' ready if they got caught.

    How embarrassing that they 'accidentally' captured all of the calls from Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. Yeah, right.



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