|"The views expressed by others are not necessarily shared by me personally but all views and perspectives are respected"
|Whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations is
behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA's history.
His duty to us all came at a critical moment, as lies by
government officials abound to the public.
Posted by Colin Andrews
June 11, 2013
Thanks to Lindy Tucker (USA)
Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations.
The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA's history explains his motives, his
uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows.
The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a
29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz
Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an
employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.
The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he
decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the
protection of anonymity. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing
wrong," he said.
Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel
Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world's most
secretive organisations – the NSA.
In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: "I understand that I will be made
to suffer for my actions," but "I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and
irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."
Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media
spotlight. "I don't want public attention because I don't want the story to be about me. I want it to be about
what the US government is doing."
He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from
the issues raised by his disclosures. "I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the
government will demonise me."
Britain's Guardian newspaper says the
National Security Agency is currently collecting
the telephone records of millions of U.S.
customers of Verizon under a secret court
order. The newspaper said Wednesday, June
5, 2013 the order was issued in April and was
good until July 19. The newspaper said the
order requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily
basis" to give the NSA information on all
telephone calls in its systems, both within the
U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries.
(Amy Sancetta/ASSOCIATED PRESS
What you should know about
NSA phone data program
June 6, 2013
MATT APUZZO, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The
government knows who you're calling.
Every day. Every call.
Here's what you need to know about
the secret program and how it works:
Q: What happened and why is it a big
A: The Guardian newspaper published
a highly classified April U.S. court
order that allows the government
access to all of Verizon's phone
records on a daily basis, for both
domestic and international calls. That
doesn't mean the government is
listening in, and the National Security
Agency did not receive the names and
addresses of customers. But it did
receive all phone numbers with
outgoing or incoming calls, as well as
the unique electronic numbers that
identify cellphones. That means the
government knows which phones are
being used, even if customers change
This is the first tangible evidence of
the scope of a domestic surveillance
program that has existed for years but
has been discussed only in
generalities. It proves that, in the name
of national security, the government
sweeps up the call records of
Americans who have no known ties to
terrorists or criminals.
Q: How is this different from the NSA
wiretapping that was going on under
President George W. Bush?
A: In 2005, The New York Times
revealed that Bush had signed a
secret order allowing the NSA to
eavesdrop on Americans without court
approval, a seismic shift in policy for
an agency that had previously been
prohibited from spying domestically.
The exact scope of that program has
never been known, but it allowed the
NSA to monitor phone calls and emails.
After it became public, the Bush
administration dubbed it the "Terrorist
Surveillance Program" and said it was
a critical tool in protecting the United
States from attack.
"The NSA program is narrowly
focused, aimed only at international
calls and targeted at al-Qaida and
related groups," the Justice
Department said at the time.
But while wiretapping got all the
attention, the government was also
collecting call logs from American
phone companies as part of that
program, a U.S. official said Thursday.
After the wiretapping controversy, the
collection of call records continued,
albeit with court approval. That's what
we're seeing in the newly released
court document: a judge's
authorization for something that began
years ago with no court oversight.
Q: Why does the government even
want my phone records?
A: They're not interested in your
records, in all likelihood, but your calls
make up the background noise of the
global phone system.
Look at your monthly phone bill, and
you'll see patterns: calls home as you
leave work, food delivery orders on
Friday nights, that once-a-week call to
mom and dad.
It's like that, except on a monumentally
The classified court ruling doesn't say
what the NSA intends to do with your
records. But armed with the nation's
phone logs, the agency's computers
have the ability to identify what normal
call behavior looks like. And, with
powerful computers, it would be
possible to compare the entire
database against computer models the
government believes show what
terrorist calling patterns look like.
Further analysis could identify what
are known in intelligence circles as
"communities of interest" -- the
networks of people who are in contact
with targets or suspicious phone
Over time, the records also become a
valuable archive. When officials
discover a new phone number linked
to a suspected terrorist, they can
consult the records to see who called
that number in the preceding months
Once the government has narrowed its
focus on phone numbers it believes
are tied to terrorism or foreign
governments, it can go back to the
court with a wiretap request. That
allows the government to monitor the
calls in real time, record them and
store them indefinitely.
Q: Why just Verizon?
A: It's probably not. A former U.S.
intelligence official familiar with the
NSA program says that records from
all U.S. phone companies would be
seized, and that they would include
business and residential numbers.
Only the court order involving Verizon
has been made public.
In 2006, USA Today reported that the
NSA was secretly collecting the phone
call records of tens of millions of
Americans. The newspaper identified
phone companies that cooperated in
that effort. The newspaper ultimately
distanced itself from that report after
some phone companies denied being
part of such a government program.
The court document published by The
Guardian, however, offers credence to
the original USA Today story, which
declared: "The NSA program reaches
into homes and businesses across the
nation by amassing information about
the calls of ordinary Americans -- most
of whom aren't suspected of any
Q: But in this case, a judge approved
it. Does that mean someone had to
show probable cause that a crime was
A: No. The seizure was authorized by
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Court, which operates under very
different rules from a typical court.
Probable cause is not required.
The court was created by the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978
and is known in intelligence circles as
the FISA court. Judges appointed by
the president hear secret evidence
and authorize wiretapping, search
warrants and other clandestine efforts
to monitor suspected or known spies
For decades, the court was located in
a secure area at Justice Department
headquarters. While prosecutors in
criminal cases must come to court
seeking subpoenas, the FISA judges
came to the Justice Department. That
changed in 2008 with the construction
of a new FISA court inside the U.S.
District Court in Washington. The
courtroom is essentially a vault,
designed to prevent anyone from
eavesdropping on what goes on inside.
In this instance, Judge Roger Vinson
authorized the NSA to seize the phone
records under a provision in the USA
Patriot Act, which passed shortly after
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and vastly
expanded the government's ability to
collect information on Americans.
Q: If not probable cause, what
standard did the government use in
A: The judge relied on one of the most
controversial aspects of the Patriot
Act: Section 215, which became known
colloquially as the "library records
provision" because it allowed the
government to seize a wide range of
documents, including library records.
Under that provision, the government
must show that there are "reasonable
grounds to believe" that the records
are relevant to an investigation
intended to "protect against
international terrorism or clandestine
Exactly what "relevant" meant has
been unclear. With the release of the
classified court order, the public can
see for the first time that everyone's
phone records are relevant.
The Justice Department has staunchly
defended Section 215, saying it was
narrowly written and has safeguarded
Some in Congress, however, have
been sounding alarms about it for
years. Though they are prohibited
from revealing what they know about
the surveillance programs, Democratic
Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark
Udall or Colorado have said the
government's interpretation of the law
has gone far beyond what the public
"We believe most Americans would be
stunned to learn the details of how
these secret court opinions have
interpreted section 215 of the Patriot
Act," the senators wrote in a letter to
Attorney General Eric Holder last year.
Q: Why don't others in Congress seem
that upset about all this?
A: Many members of Congress have
known this was going on for years.
While Americans might be surprised to
see, in writing, an authorization to
sweep up their phone records, that's
old news to many in Congress.
"Everyone should just calm down and
understand that this isn't anything
that's brand new," Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said
Thursday. "It's been going on for some
Senate Intelligence Committee
Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.,
and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss
issued a similar statement:
"The executive branch's use of this
authority has been briefed extensively
to the Senate and House Intelligence
and Judiciary Committees, and
detailed information has been made
available to all members of Congress."
Q: What does the Obama
administration have to say about this?
A: So far, very little. Despite
campaigning against Bush's
counterterrorism efforts, President
Barack Obama has continued many of
the most controversial ones including,
it is now clear, widespread monitoring
of American phone records.
The NSA is particularly reluctant to
discuss its programs. Even as it has
secretly collected millions of phone
records, it has tried to cultivate an
image that it was not in the domestic
In March, for instance, NSA
spokeswoman Vanee Vines, emailed
an Associated Press reporter about a
story that described the NSA as a
monitor of worldwide internet data and
Despite these fears, he remained hopeful his outing will not divert attention from the substance of his
disclosures. "I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger
among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in." He added: "My sole motive is
to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them."
He has had "a very comfortable life" that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he
shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. "I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I
can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties
for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."
'I am not afraid, because this is the choice I've made'.
Three weeks ago, Snowden made final preparations that resulted in last week's series of blockbuster news
stories. At the NSA office in Hawaii where he was working, he copied the last set of documents he intended
He then advised his NSA supervisor that he needed to be away from work for "a couple of weeks" in order
to receive treatment for epilepsy, a condition he learned he suffers from after a series of seizures last year.
As he packed his bags, he told his girlfriend that he had to be away for a few weeks, though he said he was
vague about the reason. "That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last
decade working in the intelligence world."
On May 20, he boarded a flight to Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since. He chose the city
because "they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent", and because he
believed that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the
In the three weeks since he arrived, he has been ensconced in a hotel room. "I've left the room maybe a
total of three times during my entire stay," he said. It is a plush hotel and, what with eating meals in his room
too, he has run up big bills.
He is deeply worried about being spied on. He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent
eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent
any hidden cameras from detecting them.
Though that may sound like paranoia to some, Snowden has good reason for such fears. He worked in the
US intelligence world for almost a decade. He knows that the biggest and most secretive surveillance
organisation in America, the NSA, along with the most powerful government on the planet, is looking for him.
Since the disclosures began to emerge, he has watched television and monitored the Internet, hearing all
the threats and vows of prosecution emanating from Washington.
And he knows only too well the sophisticated technology available to them and how easy it will be for them
to find him. The NSA police and other law enforcement officers have twice visited his home in Hawaii and
already contacted his girlfriend, though he believes that may have been prompted by his absence from
work, and not because of suspicions of any connection to the leaks.
"All my options are bad," he said. The US could begin extradition proceedings against him, a potentially
problematic, lengthy and unpredictable course for Washington. Or the Chinese government might whisk
him away for questioning, viewing him as a useful source of information. Or he might end up being grabbed
and bundled into a plane bound for US territory.
"Yes, I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me. Or any of the third-party partners.
They work closely with a number of other nations. Or they could pay off the Triads. Any of their agents or
assets," he said.
"We have got a CIA station just up the road – the consulate here in Hong Kong – and I am sure they are
going to be busy for the next week. And that is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long
that happens to be."
Having watched the Obama administration prosecute whistleblowers at a historically unprecedented rate,
he fully expects the US government to attempt to use all its weight to punish him. "I am not afraid," he said
calmly, "because this is the choice I've made."
He predicts the government will launch an investigation and "say I have broken the Espionage Act and
helped our enemies, but that can be used against anyone who points out how massive and invasive the
system has become".
The only time he became emotional during the many hours of interviews was when he pondered the impact
his choices would have on his family, many of whom work for the US government. "The only thing I fear is
the harmful effects on my family, who I won't be able to help any more. That's what keeps me up at night,"
he said, his eyes welling up with tears.
'You can't wait around for someone else to act'
Snowden did not always believe the US government posed a threat to his political values. He was brought
up originally in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. His family moved later to Maryland, near the NSA
headquarters in Fort Meade.
By his own admission, he was not a stellar student. In order to get the credits necessary to obtain a high
school diploma, he attended a community college in Maryland, studying computing, but never completed
the coursework. (He later obtained his GED.)
In 2003, he enlisted in the US army and began a training program to join the Special Forces. Invoking the
same principles that he now cites to justify his leaks, he said: "I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt
like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression".
He recounted how his beliefs about the war's purpose were quickly dispelled. "Most of the people training
us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone," he said. After he broke both his legs in a
training accident, he was discharged.
After that, he got his first job in an NSA facility, working as a security guard for one of the agency's covert
facilities at the University of Maryland. From there, he went to the CIA, where he worked on IT security. His
understanding of the internet and his talent for computer programming enabled him to rise fairly quickly for
someone who lacked even a high school diploma.
By 2007, the CIA stationed him with diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland. His responsibility for
maintaining computer network security meant he had clearance to access a wide array of classified
That access, along with the almost three years he spent around CIA officers, led him to begin seriously
questioning the rightness of what he saw.
He described as formative an incident in which he claimed CIA operatives were attempting to recruit a Swiss
banker to obtain secret banking information. Snowden said they achieved this by purposely getting the
banker drunk and encouraging him to drive home in his car. When the banker was arrested for drunk
driving, the undercover agent seeking to befriend him offered to help, and a bond was formed that led to
"Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its
impact is in the world," he says. "I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than
He said it was during his CIA stint in Geneva that he thought for the first time about exposing government
secrets. But, at the time, he chose not to for two reasons.
First, he said: "Most of the secrets the CIA has are about people, not machines and systems, so I didn't feel
comfortable with disclosures that I thought could endanger anyone". Secondly, the election of Barack
Obama in 2008 gave him hope that there would be real reforms, rendering disclosures unnecessary.
He left the CIA in 2009 in order to take his first job working for a private contractor that assigned him to a
functioning NSA facility, stationed on a military base in Japan. It was then, he said, that he "watched as
Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in", and as a result, "I got hardened."
The primary lesson from this experience was that "you can't wait around for someone else to act. I had
been looking for leaders, but I realised that leadership is about being the first to act."
Over the next three years, he learned just how all-consuming the NSA's surveillance activities were,
claiming "they are intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to
He described how he once viewed the internet as "the most important invention in all of human history". As
an adolescent, he spent days at a time "speaking to people with all sorts of views that I would never have
encountered on my own".
But he believed that the value of the internet, along with basic privacy, is being rapidly destroyed by
ubiquitous surveillance. "I don't see myself as a hero," he said, "because what I'm doing is self-interested: I
don't want to live in a world where there's no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and
Once he reached the conclusion that the NSA's surveillance net would soon be irrevocable, he said it was
just a matter of time before he chose to act. "What they're doing" poses "an existential threat to
democracy", he said. A matter of principle.
As strong as those beliefs are, there still remains the question: why did he do it? Giving up his freedom and
a privileged lifestyle? "There are more important things than money. If I were motivated by money, I could
have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich."
For him, it is a matter of principle. "The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no
public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to," he
His allegiance to internet freedom is reflected in the stickers on his laptop: "I support Online Rights:
Electronic Frontier Foundation," reads one. Another hails the online organization offering anonymity, the
Asked by reporters to establish his authenticity to ensure he is not some fantasist, he laid bare, without
hesitation, his personal details, from his social security number to his CIA ID and his expired diplomatic
passport. There is no shiftiness. Ask him about anything in his personal life and he will answer.
He is quiet, smart, easy-going and self-effacing. A master on computers, he seemed happiest when talking
about the technical side of surveillance, at a level of detail comprehensible probably only to fellow
communication specialists. But he showed intense passion when talking about the value of privacy and how
he felt it was being steadily eroded by the behavior of the intelligence services.
His manner was calm and relaxed but he has been understandably twitchy since he went into hiding, waiting
for the knock on the hotel door. A fire alarm goes off. "That has not happened before," he said, betraying
anxiety wondering if was real, a test or a CIA ploy to get him out onto the street.
Strewn about the side of his bed are his suitcase, a plate with the remains of room-service breakfast, and a
copy of Angler, the biography of former vice-president Dick Cheney.
Ever since last week's news stories began to appear in the Guardian, Snowden has vigilantly watched TV
and read the internet to see the effects of his choices. He seemed satisfied that the debate he longed to
provoke was finally taking place.
He lay, propped up against pillows, watching CNN's Wolf Blitzer ask a discussion panel about government
intrusion if they had any idea who the leaker was. From 8,000 miles away, the leaker looked on impassively,
not even indulging in a wry smile.
Snowden said that he admires both Ellsberg and Manning, but argues that there is one important distinction
between himself and the army private, whose trial coincidentally began the week Snowden's leaks began to
"I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public
interest," he said. "There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn
over, because harming people isn't my goal. Transparency is."
He purposely chose, he said, to give the documents to journalists whose judgment he trusted about what
should be public and what should remain concealed.
As for his future, he is vague. He hoped the publicity the leaks have generated will offer him some
protection, making it "harder for them to get dirty".
He views his best hope as the possibility of asylum, with Iceland – with its reputation of a champion of
internet freedom – at the top of his list. He knows that may prove a wish unfulfilled.
But after the intense political controversy he has already created with just the first week's haul of stories, "I
feel satisfied that this was all worth it. I have no regrets."
Colin Andrews Comments:
We should remember that this level of intrusion and surveillance gives the NSA potential to be ahead of our
business, all of it, wall street deals, government maneuvers and just about everything else.
Every move you ever made from the early 2000’s onwards is now stored on file and just one wrong doing or
one mistake can be used as the reason they to go back over every friend you ever talked to, every search
term you ever entered into your computer or even every contact on Facebook etc etc…………. The idea
that as long as you are not doing anything wrong, this surveillance should not pose any concerns, then you
have not thought this architecture through. Even the president isn’t safe by the dirty tricks division if
‘someone’ chose to dig back into the huge vast computers now storing all this data at the NSA new
surveillance town, built and running.
The risk we take of not knowing whose side the eaves droppers are on or the ultimate agenda, when they
have access to such powerful tools is of itself the biggest folly democratic society could possibly have
allowed to take form in its name. A single word now assuring these unknown people the unthinkable
control over us and the product of 9-11 is ‘Security’. How does one challenge ‘security’ when what
concerns us is refused discussion and now under Obama it has a legal framework to reinforce it.
‘Check-mate’ has never been so profoundly expressed as what has taken place here. If I was running this
illegal corrupt show, my first investigation into the plans set for the future would be into Google. If this
company isn’t a front for the US government, then I don’t know who is………………
"no digital communication is secure",
by which he means not that any
communication is susceptible to
government interception as it
happens (although that is true), but
far beyond that: all digital
communications - meaning
telephone calls, emails, online chats
and the like - are automatically
recorded and stored and accessible
to the government after the fact. To
describe that is to define what a
ubiquitous, limitless Surveillance
There have been some previous
indications that this is true. Former
AT&T engineer Mark Klein revealed
that AT&T and other telecoms had
built a special network that allowed
the National Security Agency full and
unfettered access to data about the
telephone calls and the content of
email communications for all of their
customers. Specifically, Klein
explained "that the NSA set up a
system that vacuumed up Internet
and phone-call data from ordinary
Americans with the cooperation of
AT&T" and that "contrary to the
government's depiction of its
surveillance program as aimed at
overseas terrorists . . . much of the
data sent through AT&T to the NSA
was purely domestic." But his
amazing revelations were mostly
ignored and, when Congress
retroactively immunized the nation's
telecom giants for their participation
in the illegal Bush spying programs,
Klein's claims (by design) were
prevented from being adjudicated in
That every single telephone call is
recorded and stored would also
explain this extraordinary revelation
by the Washington Post in 2010:
Every day, collection systems at the
National Security Agency intercept
and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone
calls and other types of
It would also help explain the
revelations of former NSA official
William Binney, who resigned from
the agency in protest over its
systemic spying on the domestic
communications of US citizens, that
the US government has "assembled
on the order of 20 trillion
transactions about US citizens with
other US citizens" (which counts only
communications transactions and
not financial and other transactions),
and that "the data that's being
assembled is about everybody. And
from that data, then they can target
anyone they want."
Despite the extreme secrecy behind
which these surveillance programs
operate, there have been periodic
reports of serious abuse. Two
Democratic Senators, Ron Wyden
and Mark Udall, have been warning
for years that Americans would be
"stunned" to learn what the US
government is doing in terms of
Strangely, back in 2002 - when
hysteria over the 9/11 attacks (and
thus acquiescence to government
power) was at its peak - the
Pentagon's attempt to implement
what it called the "Total Information
Awareness" program (TIA) sparked
so much public controversy that it
had to be official scrapped. But it
has been incrementally re-instituted
- without the creepy (though honest)
name and all-seeing-eye logo - with
little controversy or even notice.
Back in 2010, worldwide controversy
erupted when the governments of
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Emirates banned the use of
Blackberries because some
communications were inaccessible
to government intelligence agencies,
and that could not be tolerated. The
Obama administration condemned
this move on the ground that it
threatened core freedoms, only to
turn around six weeks later and
demand that all forms of digital
communications allow the US
government backdoor access to
intercept them. Put another way, the
US government embraced exactly
the same rationale invoked by the
UAE and Saudi agencies: that no
communications can be off limits.
Indeed, the UAE, when responding
to condemnations from the Obama
administration, noted that it was
simply doing exactly that which the
US government does:
"'In fact, the UAE is exercising its
sovereign right and is asking for
exactly the same regulatory
compliance - and with the same
principles of judicial and regulatory
oversight - that Blackberry grants
the US and other governments and
nothing more,' [UAE Ambassador to
the US Yousef Al] Otaiba said.
'Importantly, the UAE requires the
same compliance as the US for the
very same reasons: to protect
national security and to assist in law
That no human communications can
be allowed to take place without the
scrutinizing eye of the US
government is indeed the animating
principle of the US Surveillance
State. Still, this revelation, made in
passing on CNN, that every single
telephone call made by and among
Americans is recorded and stored is
something which most people
undoubtedly do not know, even if
the small group of people who focus
on surveillance issues believed it to
be true (clearly, both Burnett and
Costello were shocked to hear this).
Some new polling suggests that
Americans, even after the Boston
attack, are growing increasingly
concerned about erosions of civil
liberties in the name of Terrorism.
Even those people who claim it does
not matter instinctively understand
the value of personal privacy: they
put locks on their bedroom doors
and vigilantly safeguard their email
passwords. That's why the US
government so desperately
maintains a wall of secrecy around
their surveillance capabilities:
because they fear that people will
find their behavior unacceptably
intrusive and threatening, as they
did even back in 2002 when John
Poindexter's TIA was unveiled.
Mass surveillance is the hallmark of
a tyrannical political culture. But
whatever one's views on that, the
more that is known about what the
US government and its surveillance
agencies are doing, the better. This
admission by this former FBI agent
on CNN gives a very good sense for
just how limitless these activities are.
Spying on Americans: NSA Asked Verizon for All Call Data - HERE
Thursday, June 06, 2013
NSA Pressured LA Times To Kill Domestic Spying Story - HERE
Uploaded on Mar 7, 2007
Yesterday Nightline featured a story about former AT&T technician and whistleblower Mark Klein. While
working at AT&T headquarters in San Francisco, Klein discovered (and had the courage to speak out
about) a secret eavesdropping room that all of the company's traffic was routed through. With the help of
the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mr. Klein went public back in April 2006, but alleges John Negroponte
and Michael Hayden pressured the LA Times to kill the story.
|Mr Wyden: Question
"Does the NSA collect any type of
data at all on millions or hundreds
of millions of Americans?"
|General Clapper: Answer
"NSA collects, monitors, and analyzes a variety of
(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)FOREIGN(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) signals and communications for
indications of threats to the United States and for information of value to the U.S. government," she wrote. "
(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)FOREIGN(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) is the operative word. NSA is not an
indiscriminate vacuum, collecting anything and everything."
Q: Why hasn't anyone sued over this? Can I?
A: People have sued. But challenging the legality of secret wiretaps is difficult because, in order to sue, you
have to know you've been wiretapped. In 2006, for instance, a federal judge in Detroit declared the NSA
warrantless wiretapping program unconstitutional. But the ruling was overturned when an appeals court that
said the plaintiffs -- civil rights groups, lawyers and scholars -- didn't have the authority to sue because they
couldn't prove they were wiretapped.
Court challenges have also run up against the government's ability to torpedo lawsuits that could jeopardize
The recent release of the classified court document is sure to trigger a new lawsuit in the name of Verizon
customers whose records were seized. But now that the surveillance program is under the supervision of the
FISA court and a warrant was issued, a court challenge is more difficult.
Suing Verizon would also be difficult. A lawsuit against AT&T failed because Congress granted
telecommunications companies retroactive immunity for cooperating with warrantless surveillance. In this
instance, Verizon was under a court order to provide the records to the government, making a lawsuit
against the company challenging.
Q: Can the government read my emails?
A: Not under this court order, but it's not clear whether the NSA is monitoring email content as part of this
In 2006, former AT&T technician Mark Klein described in federal court papers how a "splitter" device in San
Francisco siphoned millions of Americans' Internet traffic to the NSA. That probably included data sent to or
from AT&T Internet subscribers, such as emails and the websites they visited.
Most email messages are sent through the Internet in "plain-text" form, meaning they aren't encrypted and
anyone with the right tools can view their contents. Similar to an old-fashioned envelope and letter, every
email contains details about whom it's from and where it's supposed to go.
Unlike postal letters, those details can include information that can be linked to a subscriber's billing
account, even if he or she wants to remain anonymous.
In May 2012, Wyden and Udall asked the NSA how many people inside the United States had their
communications "collected or reviewed."
The intelligence community's inspector general, I. Charles McCullough III, told the senators that providing
such an estimate "would likely impede the NSA's mission" and "violate the privacy of U.S. persons."
Associated Press writers Jack Gillum and Lara Jakes contributed to this report.
|Published on Jun 7, 2013 ; Senator Ron Wyden questions director of national intelligence James Clapper in a Senate hearing in
March. Clapper has denounced revelations in the media that phone and internet records have been collected on a mass scale.
|The Big Question and the
Big Lie by the - Director of