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Interesting article in today's Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims "collection directly from the servers" of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.

In a statement, Google said: "Google cares deeply about the security of our users' data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government 'back door' into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data."

Several senior tech executives insisted that they had no knowledge of PRISM or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a program. "If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge," one said.

An Apple spokesman said it had "never heard" of PRISM.

The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012.

The program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.

It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.

Disclosure of the PRISM program follows a leak to the Guardian on Wednesday of a top-secret court order compelling telecoms provider Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of US customers.

The participation of the internet companies in PRISM will add to the debate, ignited by the Verizon revelation, about the scale of surveillance by the intelligence services. Unlike the collection of those call records, this surveillance can include the content of communications and not just the metadata.

Some of the world's largest internet brands are claimed to be part of the information-sharing program since its introduction in 2007. Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan "Your privacy is our priority" – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007.

It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.

Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks.

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BBC follow-up to the Guardian story.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22809541

US spy chief James Clapper has strongly defended government surveillance programmes after revelations of phone records being collected and internet servers being tapped.

He said disclosure of a secret court document on phone record collection threatened "irreversible harm".

Revelations of an alleged programme to tap into servers of nine internet firms were "reprehensible", he said.

The director of US national intelligence said he wanted to reassure Americans that the intelligence community was committed to respecting their civil liberties and privacy.

He issued a strong-worded statement late on Thursday, after the UK's Guardian newspaper said a secret court order had required phone company Verizon to hand over its records to the National Security Agency (NSA) on an "ongoing daily basis".

That report was followed by revelations in both the Washington Post and Guardian that US agencies tapped directly into the servers of nine internet firms to track people in a programme known as Prism.

The reports about Prism will raise fresh questions about how far the US government should encroach on citizens' privacy in the interests of national security.

The NSA confirmed that it had been secretly collecting millions of phone records. But Mr Clapper said the "unauthorized disclosure... threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation".

The article omitted "key information" about the use of the records "to prevent terrorist attacks and the numerous safeguards that protect privacy and civil liberties".

He said reports about Prism contained "numerous inaccuracies". While admitting the government collected communications from internet firms, he said the policy only targets "non-US persons".

Prism was reportedly developed in 2007 out of a programme of domestic surveillance without warrants that was set up by President George W Bush after the 9/11 attacks.

Mr Clapper said the communications-collection programme was "designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-US persons located outside the United States".

"It cannot be used to intentionally target any US citizen, any other US person, or anyone located within the United States," he added.

Mr Clapper said the programme, under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was recently reauthorised by Congress after hearings and debate.

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I just watched President Obama's press conference from California

where he addressed questions about this program.

I have lived in America since June 1978 and I have never had concerns about the government

invading my privacy.

I have no doubt that the President is being truthful when he says

"Nobody is listening to your phone calls."

But even if the government is listening to my phone calls I have nothing to worry about.

EDIT[ Although I am a big fan of Obama, I am disappointed to see that Michelle Obama

is not attending the meetings with the Chinese leader and his beautiful and talented missus.

Jacqueline Kennedy would have been there.

EDIT[ If moderator Tom Scully is to be consistent, he will move this thread to another forum.

He did that to me once when he claimed that an innocent man convicted in Texas

was not relevant to the JFK inquiry.]

Edited by J. Raymond Carroll
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I am stunned that anyone can still be a big fan of Obama. Was his signing of the National Defense Authorization Act not enough for people to see his true agenda?

Of course he is lying.

He is Bush's third and forth term. And maybe even worse.

Certainly making Nixon look like a defender of the Constitution, and that is really saying something.

"But even if the government is listening to my phone calls I have nothing to worry about"????

Wow. I thought you were a lawyer Ray. Seem you are missing the point here.

Dawn

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Wow. I thought you were a lawyer Ray. Seem you are missing the point here.

Dawn

Actually I am now retired, but in any case I care not a whit what Dawn Meredith thinks

about this or any other subject.

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The reason why this thread is in this section is because of the possible impact on JFK research (especially those who make contact with people outside of the US). Spokesman for the CIA have said on British television that the use companies like Google to spy on foreigners rather than US citizens. That is not very reassuring for British citizens (or for US citizens in contact with "foreigners"). This story will have a tremendous impact on the way "foreigners" see Google. This comes not long after discovering the way Google avoids paying tax in the UK.

This weekend the Bilderberg group meet at the Grove hotel in Watford. David Cameron will be there. So will George Osborne, the founder of Amazon (another company that does not pay its tax and therefore destroys local businesses), chairman of Google, the chief executives of both BP and Shell, Marcus Agius, the CEO of the defence manufacturer EADS, Thomas Enders, and the Goldman Sachs International chairman, Peter Sutherland.

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Guest Tom Scully

Very strong indications are that they scoop up all electronic communications and store it to enjoy the option of later retrieval, and that they have been doing it for years.

All data in every email and text message and in every telephone call. The farce of paying lip service to "guaranteed" Bill of Rights "protections" are only about the circumstances in which "investigators" can "legitimately" pull it out of storage and use it against anyone, anywhere.

http://cryptome.org/nsa-snoops.htm

The Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2000

US Security Agency Defends Eavesdrop Use

By Neil King Jr. Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

Gen. Hayden dismissed as "simply not true" a number of other recent accusations, including the charge that the U.S. and friendly countries like Britain or Canada used one another's services to spy on their own citizens.

John, the following excerpts highlight how and why we ceded our guaranteed protections to criminal liars. Until you hear that Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama have been indicted for crimes against the state and against humanity, consider us generally to be a stupid people in a ruined state done in by the apathy and ignorance of its

own residents. Stay at arm's length from us and do not let this happen in your country. Every appeal for "modernization" Bush demanded, he got almost immediately.

Reminds me of the Chamberlain appeasement, followed by Poland, then by France......

http://web.archive.org/web/20020210153546/http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/10/20011026-5.html

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 26, 2001

Multi-front Operation, 2001 Video & Timeline President Signs Anti-Terrorism Bill
Remarks by the President at Signing of the Patriot Act, Anti-Terrorism Legislation
The East Room

We're dealing with terrorists who operate by highly sophisticated methods and technologies, some of which were not even available when our existing laws were written. The bill before me takes account of the new realities and dangers posed by modern terrorists. It will help law enforcement to identify, to dismantle, to disrupt, and to punish terrorists before they strike.

For example, this legislation gives law enforcement officials better tools to put an end to financial counterfeiting, smuggling and money-laundering. Secondly, it gives intelligence operations and criminal operations the chance to operate not on separate tracks, but to share vital information so necessary to disrupt a terrorist attack before it occurs.

As of today, we're changing the laws governing information-sharing. And as importantly, we're changing the culture of our various agencies that fight terrorism. Countering and investigating terrorist activity is the number one priority for both law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Surveillance of communications is another essential tool to pursue and stop terrorists. The existing law was written in the era of rotary telephones. This new law that I sign today will allow surveillance of all communications used by terrorists, including e-mails, the Internet, and cell phones.

As of today, we'll be able to better meet the technological challenges posed by this proliferation of communications technology. Investigations are often slowed by limit on the reach of federal search warrants.

Law enforcement agencies have to get a new warrant for each new district they investigate, even when they're after the same suspect. Under this new law, warrants are valid across all districts and across all states. ......

....... It is now my honor to sign into law the USA Patriot Act of 2001. (Applause.)

(The bill is signed.) (Applause.)

END 10:57 A.M. EDT

http://web.archive.org/web/20070608104858/http://www.anonymousliberal.com/2006/02/what-bush-said-then-vs-what-he-says.html

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 What Bush Said Then vs. What He Says NowIn his weekly radio address on October 27, 2001 (a full six weeks after Congress passed the AUMF), President Bush told the nation the following:

Now comes the duty of carrying them out.
And I can assure all Americans that
these important new statutes will be
enforced to the full. Thank you for
listening.

Within months after making this assurance to the American people, President Bush authorized the NSA to ignore the requirements of the law he had just signed and which he assured the American people would be "enforced to the full." Now that he's been caught, what is his stated reason for disregarding the law? He tells us the law was too "old" and "outdated" and not designed to deal with the realities and dangers posed by the modern terrorist.

http://web.archive.org/web/20070102013857/https://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/12/20051219-1.html

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 19, 2005

Press Briefing by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and General Michael Hayden, Principal Deputy Director for National Intelligence
James S. Brady Briefing Room
......Q General, can you tell us why you don't choose to go to the FISA court?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Well, we continue to go to the FISA court and obtain orders. It is a very important tool that we continue to utilize. Our position is that we are not legally required to do, in this particular case, because the law requires that we -- FISA requires that we get a court order, unless authorized by a statute, and we believe that authorization has occurred.

The operators out at NSA tell me that we don't have the speed and the agility that we need, in all circumstances, to deal with this new kind of enemy. You have to remember that FISA was passed by the Congress in 1978. There have been tremendous advances in technology -

http://web.archive.org/web/20070102055947/https://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060907-2.html

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 7, 2006

President Bush Discusses Progress in the Global War on Terror
Cobb Galleria Centre
Atlanta, Georgia

......Last year, details of the Terrorist Surveillance Program were leaked to the news media, and the program was then challenged in court. That challenge was recently upheld by a federal district judge in Michigan. My administration strongly disagrees with the ruling. We are appealing it, and we believe our appeal will be successful. Yet a series of protracted legal challenges would put a heavy burden on this critical and vital program. The surest way to keep the program is to get explicit approval from the United States Congress. So today I'm calling on the Congress to promptly pass legislation providing additional authority for the Terrorist Surveillance Program, along with broader reforms in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. (Applause.)

When FISA was passed in 1978, there was no widely accessible Internet, and almost all calls were made on fixed landlines. Since then, the nature of communications has changed, quite dramatically. The terrorists who want to harm America can now buy disposable cell phones, and open anonymous e-mail addresses. Our laws need to change to take these changes into account.......

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/text-president-bushs-weekly-radio/story.aspx?guid=%7B8A68F6AA-3664-4E97-8F9B-E626B8B4F9F8%7D

President Bush's weekly radio address
By MarketWatch
Last Update: 11:55 AM ET Jul 28, 2007

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week I visited with troops at Charleston Air Force Base. These fine men and women are serving courageously to protect our country against dangerous enemies. The terrorist network that struck America on September the 11th wants to strike our country again. To stop them, our military, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals need the best possible information about who the terrorists are, where they are, and what they are planning.
One of the most important ways we can gather that information is by monitoring terrorist communications. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- also known as FISA -- provides a critical legal foundation that allows our intelligence community to collect this information while protecting the civil liberties of Americans. But this important law was written in 1978, and it addressed the technologies of that era. This law is badly out of date -- and Congress must act to modernize it.
Today we face sophisticated terrorists who use disposable cell phones and the Internet to communicate with each other, recruit operatives, and plan attacks on our country. Technologies like these were not available when FISA was passed nearly 30 years ago, and FISA has not kept up with new technological developments. As a result, our Nation is hampered in its ability to gain the vital intelligence we need to keep the American people safe. In his testimony to Congress in May, Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, put it this way: We are "significantly burdened in capturing overseas communications of foreign terrorists planning to conduct attacks inside the United States."
To fix this problem, my Administration has proposed a bill that would modernize the FISA statute. This legislation is the product of months of discussion with members of both parties in the House and the Senate -- and it includes four key reforms: First, it brings FISA up to date with the changes in communications technology that have taken place over the past three decades. Second, it seeks to restore FISA to its original focus on protecting the privacy interests of people inside the United States, so we don't have to obtain court orders to effectively collect foreign intelligence about foreign targets located in foreign locations. Third, it allows the government to work more efficiently with private-sector entities like communications providers, whose help is essential. And fourth, it will streamline administrative processes so our intelligence community can gather foreign intelligence more quickly and more effectively, while protecting civil liberties.
Every day that Congress puts off these reforms increases the danger to our Nation. Our intelligence community warns that under the current statute, we are missing a significant amount of foreign intelligence that we should be collecting to protect our country. Congress needs to act immediately to pass this bill, so that our national security professionals can close intelligence gaps and provide critical warning time for our country.
As the recent National Intelligence Estimate reported, America is in a heightened threat environment. Reforming FISA will help our intelligence professionals address those threats -- and they should not have to wait any longer. Congress will soon be leaving for its August recess. I ask Republicans and Democrats to work together to pass FISA modernization now, before they leave town. Our national security depends on it.Thank you for listening.

(Americans resemble frogs in a post of water slowly brought to a boil.)

http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/07/24/faa-extension-the-data-gaps-about-our-data-collection/

This dovetails with a great deal of what we know about recent NSA surveillance, in which enormous quantities of communications are stored in a vast database codenamed Pinwale for later analysis.

[snip]

The language of these statements, however, would be consistent with the clever “solution” former NSA employees and whistleblowers like Bill Binney have long been telling us the agency has adopted. Referring to a massive data storage facility being constructed by NSA in Utah, Binney writes:

The sheer size of that capacity indicates that the NSA is not filtering personal electronic communications such as email before storage but is, in fact, storing all that they are collecting. The capacity of NSA’s planned infrastructure far exceeds the capacity necessary for the storage of discreet, targeted communications or even for the storage of the routing information from all electronic communications. The capacity of NSA’s planned infrastructure is consistent, as a mathematical matter, with seizing both the routing information and the contents o all electronic communications. .......

http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/03/19/the-rationale-for-nsas-bottomless-pit-of-data-hackers/

The Rationale for NSA’s Bottomless Pit of Data: Hackers

In his must-read report on the bottomless data pit containing the NSA is building in Utah, James Bamford described the public explanations NSA Deputy Director Chris Inglis made when he broke ground on the facility.

Inglis used hackers as cover for a spying facility that would collect and decrypt “all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter’.” That is, Inglis used the threat of hackers to cover up for the fact that the government was spying on everyone......


[NSA deputy director Chris Inglis] arrived in Bluffdale at the site of the future data center, a flat, unpaved runway on a little-used part of Camp Williams, a National Guard training site. There, in a white tent set up for the occasion, Inglis joined Harvey Davis, the agency’s associate director for installations and logistics, and Utah senator Orrin Hatch, along with a few generals and politicians in a surreal ceremony. Standing in an odd wooden sandbox and holding gold-painted shovels, they made awkward jabs at the sand and thus officially broke ground on what the local media had simply dubbed “the spy center.” Hoping for some details on what was about to be built, reporters turned to one of the invited guests, Lane Beattie of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Did he have any idea of the purpose behind the new facility in his backyard? “Absolutely not,” he said with a self-conscious half laugh. “Nor do I want them spying on me.”

For his part, Inglis simply engaged in a bit of double-talk, emphasizing the least threatening aspect of the center: “It’s a state-of-the-art facility designed to support the intelligence community in its mission to, in turn, enable and protect the nation’s cybersecurity.” While cybersecurity will certainly be among the areas focused on in Bluffdale, what is collected, how it’s collected, and what is done with the material are far more important issues. Battling hackers makes for a nice cover—it’s easy to explain, and who could be against it? [my emphasis]

http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/06/07/james-clappers-tip-for-avoiding-lies-dont-do-talking-points/

Of course, it’s the second tweet — showing the Director of National Intelligence lying in testimony to Congress about whether the NSA collects “any data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans” – I found most interesting.

Wyden always has had a knack for exposing people as liars.

By the end of the day the National Journal had contacted Clapper to provide him an opportunity to explain why this lie to Congress wasn’t a lie. He offered a nonsensical explanation.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday that he stood by what he told Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in March when he said that the National Security Agency does not “wittingly” collect data on millions of Americans.

What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails
. I stand by that,” Clapper told
National Journal
in a telephone interview.

On March 12, at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wyden asked Clapper: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper responded: “No, sir.” When Wyden followed up by asking, “It does not?” Clapper said: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect—but not wittingly.” Clapper did not specify at the time that he was referring to e-mail. [my emphasis]

Clapper’s lie — that he took Wyden’s “collected any type of data at all” to mean “voyeuristically pore through emails” — is all the worse for how bad a non-sequitur it is. Caught in a lie, the head of our Intelligence Community responded with word salad.

Given that abysmal attempt to explain away his lie, I find it all the more curious the Administration decided Clapper, newly exposed as a xxxx, would be the guy to head pushback to the revelations of the last few days. Late in the day Clapper issued first one, then another “statement” on the revelations.

Both, of course, issued stern condemnations of leaks revealing that he had lied (and that Americans have no privacy).

The unauthorized disclosure of a top secret U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.....

http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/02/01/doj-we-cant-tell-which-secret-application-of-section-215-prevents-us-from-telling-you-how-youre-surveilled/

DOJ: We Can’t Tell Which Secret Application of Section 215 Prevents Us From Telling You How You’re Surveilled

As Mike Scarcella reported yesterday, the government has moved for summary judgment in an Electronic Privacy Information Center FOIA suit for details on the government’s investigation into WikiLeaks. EPIC first FOIAed these materials in June 2011. After receiving nothing, they sued last January.

The government’s motion and associated declarations would be worth close analysis in any case. All the more so, though, in light of the possibility that the government conducted a fishing expedition into WikiLeaks as part of its Aaron Swartz investigation, almost certainly using PATRIOT Act investigative techniques. The government’s documents strongly suggest they’re collecting intelligence on Americans, all justified and hidden by their never ending quest to find some excuse to throw Julian Assange in jail.

EPIC’s FOIA asked for information designed to expose whether innocent readers and supporters of WikiLeaks had been swept up in the investigation. It asked for:

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I have no objection to this thread appearing on the JFK forum, but I have seen no evidence, and have no concerns myself,

that the efforts to curb terrorist attacks against America might have any chilling effect on JFK research.


Since most of my family lives outside the US, I probably spend more time on international phone

than I do on domestic calls.

The reason why this thread is in this section is because of the possible impact on JFK research (especially those who make contact with people outside of the US). Spokesman for the CIA have said on British television that the use companies like Google to spy on foreigners rather than US citizens. That is not very reassuring for British citizens (or for US citizens in contact with "foreigners").

EDIT: John, please disregard my recent email about log-in problems.

Edited by J. Raymond Carroll
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This Op-Ed from today's New York Times seems apropos to me:

I think I will take my chances and trust the three branches of government involved in the Verizon request to look out for my interest. Privacy advocates, civil libertarians, small-government activists and liberal media organizations are, of course, are welcome to continue working to keep them honest. But I will move back to my daily activities, free from paranoid concerns that my government is spying on me.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/opinion/making-a-mountain-out-of-a-digital-molehill.html?_r=0
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While I have no concerns about domestic spying as a chill on JFK research,

There are some things still happening that worry me:

Back in 2007, Obama said he would not want to run an administration that was “Bush-Cheney lite.” He doesn’t have to worry. With prisoners denied due process at Gitmo starving themselves, with the C.I.A. not always aware who it’s killing with drones, with an overzealous approach to leaks, and with the government’s secret domestic spy business swelling, there’s nothing lite about it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/dowd-peeping-president-obama.html?hp

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While I have no concerns about domestic spying as a chill on JFK research,

There are some things still happening that worry me:

Back in 2007, Obama said he would not want to run an administration that was “Bush-Cheney lite.” He doesn’t have to worry. With prisoners denied due process at Gitmo starving themselves, with the C.I.A. not always aware who it’s killing with drones, with an overzealous approach to leaks, and with the government’s secret domestic spy business swelling, there’s nothing lite about it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/dowd-peeping-president-obama.html?hp

Mr. Carroll

Well said, sir. I believe the old adage goes, "The more things change, the more they remain the same." Would you agree?

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I believe the old adage goes, "The more things change, the more they remain the same." Would you agree?

Eugene O'Neill said it best:

There is no present or future, only the past

happening over and over again.

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