11/01/2013 01:57 PMNSA Whistleblower: Snowden Open to Testifying in Germany
Edward Snowden says he is willing to cooperate with investigations into NSA spying. At a meeting with a German lawmaker in Moscow, he reportedly suggested he would be open to coming to Germany, and complained of a US 'campaign of persecution.' Berlin has at least signaled readiness to talk.
Edward Snowden has said he is willing to cooperate with investigations into the US spying scandal -- but he will not testify on Russian soil. The former contractor for the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) wrote down his intentions in a letter handed to German Green Party lawmaker Hans-Christian Ströbele after the pair met in Moscow, where Snowden has been granted temporary asylum.
In the letter, which Ströbele also signed, Snowden said he would "cooperate in the responsible finding of fact" with regard to the "truth and authenticity" of the documents he has leaked.
The 30-year-old former contractor for the NSA hit out at Washington's treatment of him, criticizing what he described as a "severe and sustained campaign of persecution" that forced him from his family and home. He also argued that the benefits of his actions are becoming increasingly clear in the form of "new laws and policies to address formerly concealed abuses of the public trust."
Snowden met with Ströbele in secret on Thursday for almost three hours, with journalists John Geotz, from public German broadcaster ARD, and Georg Mascolo, the former editor-in-chief of SPIEGEL, also in attendance. Footage of the meeting was broadcast by ARD on Thursday night.
'Why Not Talk to Him Personally?'
At a press conference on Friday, Ströbele revealed the meeting had been organized for months. "You all know that since June, the entire world has been talking about Edward Snowden," he said. "Then I thought, why not talk to him personally?"
"I therefore have not had a holiday because I have been waiting with a packed bag," Ströbele added.
Snowden is holed up in Moscow after being granted asylum by the Russian authorities in June. He fled the US after leaking the documents, which have repeatedly embarrassed Washington and other Western governments by revealing the extent of their intelligence gathering -- including reports that the NSA was bugging German Chancellor Angela Merkel's own mobile phone. The US has issued a warrant for Snowden's arrest.
The main topic of Thursday's meeting was the conditions under which Snowden would be able to testify to a public prosecutor or an investigating committee of Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag. According to Ströbele, Snowden raised the possibility of making a statement in front of an inquiry.
'He Knows a Lot'
"He has clearly indicated that he knows a lot," Ströbele said Thursday, adding that Snowden is "ready to come to Germany and to testify there." The circumstances of any such visit would still need to be clarified.
According to the veteran Green Party politician, who represents Berlin's Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, it would theoretically be possible to assure Snowden safe passage to Berlin, or to question him in Moscow. Snowden himself has indicated he has "interest in principal", but also referred to his "complicated legal situation," ARD reported.
Snowden's lawyer, however, has said that he cannot travel abroad to testify. Anatoly Kucherena told Russian news agency Interfax that his client would not testify about alleged spying on Merkel. Snowden would remain in Russia -- he could not travel abroad as he would then lose his temporary asylum status. "In addition, according to the existing agreements, he cannot disclose any classified information as long as he is in Russia," Kucherena told Interfax.
Ströbele confirmed this on Friday at the press conference, although he said Snowden "can see himself coming to Germany." In order for that to happen, though, he would need to have assurances that he could safely stay in Germany or a comparable country afterwards. One option would be for the German government to provide him safe passage, "if that were clear, then he would be prepared to come," said Ströbele.
'Snowden Made a Good Impression'
Ströbele will report on his conversation with Snowden at a special session of the Parliamentary Control Panel, the body in Germany's parliament charged with keeping tabs on the country's intelligence agencies. "Snowden is alive and well, and made a good impression," Ströbele told ARD on Thursday. "He has a mission, an urge to communicate. He wants to establish a rightful state of affairs again."
Journalist Mascolo, meanwhile, said that Snowden is satisfied with the direction the debate on US surveillance activities has taken since his leaks. According to Mascolo, the former NSA contractor is guarded but can speak freely, and he views the conversation with Snowden as the "start of a dialogue."
The German Justice Ministry confirmed reports that the US government has already placed an extradition request for Snowden as a precautionary step. However, according to a legal opinion prepared by the Bundestag Research Department at the request of the Left Party, Germany could offer Snowden safe passage.
According to the ARD report, Snowden would be safe from deportation if he were provided with a residence permit. Since the withdrawal of his US passport, Snowden is officially stateless. A residence permit can be issued on the basis of international law or on humanitarian grounds as well as for the "protection of political interests."
Germany Now Open to Questioning Snowden
The German government has at least signaled its willingness to talk with Snowden. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, a member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats, said on Friday: "If Mr. Snowden is ready to talk with German authorities, we will find possibilities to make this conversation possible." He did not specify who exactly would lead such a conversation.
"If the message is that Mr. Snowden will give us information, then we will willingly receive that," Friedrich said. "Every new insight, everything that gives us information and facts, is good." The government, he said, is grateful for all information, "whether it is through Mr. Ströbele or letters or whatever." The demonstrative willingness to talk is remarkable, as up until now, Berlin's attitude had been that questioning Snowden was not an option.
The whistleblower was granted temporary asylum by Moscow in the summer, thereby offering him protection from prosecution by the US, which has issued arrest warrants and threatened to charge Snowden with treason.
Snowden has been in Russia since Jun. 23 after leaving Hong Kong by plane and being stranded at a Moscow airport. He was eventually provided temporary asylum in Russia on Aug. 1. The US government is demanding his extradition to face espionage charges.
His lawyer reports that his funds are running out, and in response, Snowden supporters set up a fundraising website which has already collected $49,000 (€35,600).
dsk -- with wires
**************GCHQ and European spy agencies worked together on mass surveillance
Edward Snowden papers unmask close technical cooperation and loose alliance between British, German, French, Spanish and Swedish spy agencies
The Guardian, Friday 1 November 2013 17.02 GMT
The German, French, Spanish and Swedish intelligence services have all developed methods of mass surveillance of internet and phone traffic over the past five years in close partnership with Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency.
The bulk monitoring is carried out through direct taps into fibre optic cables and the development of covert relationships with telecommunications companies. A loose but growing eavesdropping alliance has allowed intelligence agencies from one country to cultivate ties with corporations from another to facilitate the trawling of the web, according to GCHQ documents leaked by the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The files also make clear that GCHQ played a leading role in advising its European counterparts how to work around national laws intended to restrict the surveillance power of intelligence agencies.
The German, French and Spanish governments have reacted angrily to reports based on National Security Agency (NSA) files leaked by Snowden since June, revealing the interception of communications by tens of millions of their citizens each month. US intelligence officials have insisted the mass monitoring was carried out by the security agencies in the countries involved and shared with the US.
The US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, suggested to Congress on Tuesday that European governments' professed outrage at the reports was at least partly hypocritical. "Some of this reminds me of the classic movie Casablanca: 'My God, there's gambling going on here,' " he said.
Sweden, which passed a law in 2008 allowing its intelligence agency to monitor cross-border email and phone communications without a court order, has been relatively muted in its response.
The German government, however, has expressed disbelief and fury at the revelations from the Snowden documents, including the fact that the NSA monitored Angela Merkel's mobile phone calls.
After the Guardian revealed the existence of GCHQ's Tempora programme, in which the electronic intelligence agency tapped directly into the transatlantic fibre optic cables to carry out bulk surveillance, the German justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, said it sounded "like a Hollywood nightmare", and warned the UK government that free and democratic societies could not flourish when states shielded their actions in "a veil of secrecy".
However, in a country-by-country survey of its European partners, GCHQ officials expressed admiration for the technical capabilities of German intelligence to do the same thing. The survey in 2008, when Tempora was being tested, said the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), had "huge technological potential and good access to the heart of the internet – they are already seeing some bearers running at 40Gbps and 100Gbps".
Bearers is the GCHQ term for the fibre optic cables, and gigabits per second (Gbps) measures the speed at which data runs through them. Four years after that report, GCHQ was still only able to monitor 10 Gbps cables, but looked forward to tap new 100 Gbps bearers eventually. Hence the admiration for the BND.
The document also makes clear that British intelligence agencies were helping their German counterparts change or bypass laws that restricted their ability to use their advanced surveillance technology. "We have been assisting the BND (along with SIS [Secret Intelligence Service] and Security Service) in making the case for reform or reinterpretation of the very restrictive interception legislation in Germany," it says.
The country-by-country survey, which in places reads somewhat like a school report, also hands out high marks to the GCHQ's French partner, the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE). But in this case it is suggested that the DGSE's comparative advantage is its relationship with an unnamed telecommunications company, a relationship GCHQ hoped to leverage for its own operations.
"DGSE are a highly motivated, technically competent partner, who have shown great willingness to engage on IP [internet protocol] issues, and to work with GCHQ on a "cooperate and share" basis."
Noting that the Cheltenham-based electronic intelligence agency had trained DGSE technicians on "multi-disciplinary internet operations", the document says: "We have made contact with the DGSE's main industry partner, who has some innovative approaches to some internet challenges, raising the potential for GCHQ to make use of this company in the protocol development arena."
GCHQ went on to host a major conference with its French partner on joint internet-monitoring initiatives in March 2009 and four months later reported on shared efforts on what had become by then GCHQ's biggest challenge – continuing to carry out bulk surveillance, despite the spread of commercial online encryption, by breaking that encryption.
"Very friendly crypt meeting with DGSE in July," British officials reported. The French were "clearly very keen to provide presentations on their work which included cipher detection in high-speed bearers. [GCHQ's] challenge is to ensure that we have enough UK capability to support a longer term crypt relationship."
In the case of the Spanish intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Centre (CNI), the key to mass internet surveillance, at least back in 2008, was the Spaniards' ties to a British telecommunications company (again unnamed. Corporate relations are among the most strictly guarded secrets in the intelligence community). That was giving them "fresh opportunities and uncovering some surprising results.
"GCHQ has not yet engaged with CNI formally on IP exploitation, but the CNI have been making great strides through their relationship with a UK commercial partner. GCHQ and the commercial partner have been able to coordinate their approach. The commercial partner has provided the CNI some equipment whilst keeping us informed, enabling us to invite the CNI across for IP-focused discussions this autumn," the report said. It concluded that GCHQ "have found a very capable counterpart in CNI, particularly in the field of Covert Internet Ops".
GCHQ was clearly delighted in 2008 when the Swedish parliament passed a bitterly contested law allowing the country's National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) to conduct Tempora-like operations on fibre optic cables. The British agency also claimed some credit for the success.
"FRA have obtained a … probe to use as a test-bed and we expect them to make rapid progress in IP exploitation following the law change," the country assessment said. "GCHQ has already provided a lot of advice and guidance on these issues and we are standing by to assist the FRA further once they have developed a plan for taking the work forwards."
The following year, GCHQ held a conference with its Swedish counterpart "for discussions on the implications of the new legislation being rolled out" and hailed as "a success in Sweden" the news that FRA "have finally found a pragmatic solution to enable release of intelligence to SAEPO [the internal Swedish security service.]"
GCHQ also maintains strong relations with the two main Dutch intelligence agencies, the external MIVD and the internal security service, the AIVD.
"Both agencies are small, by UK standards, but are technically competent and highly motivated," British officials reported. Once again, GCHQ was on hand in 2008 for help in dealing with legal constraints. "The AIVD have just completed a review of how they intend to tackle the challenges posed by the internet – GCHQ has provided input and advice to this report," the country assessment said.
"The Dutch have some legislative issues that they need to work through before their legal environment would allow them to operate in the way that GCHQ does. We are providing legal advice on how we have tackled some of these issues to Dutch lawyers."
In the score-card of European allies, it appears to be the Italians who come off the worse. GCHQ expresses frustration with the internal friction between Italian agencies and the legal limits on their activities.
"GCHQ has had some CT [counter-terrorism] and internet-focused discussions with both the foreign intelligence agency (AISE) and the security service (AISI), but has found the Italian intelligence community to be fractured and unable/unwilling to cooperate with one another," the report said.
A follow-up bulletin six months later noted that GCHQ was "awaiting a response from AISI on a recent proposal for cooperation – the Italians had seemed keen, but legal obstacles may have been hindering their ability to commit."
It is clear from the Snowden documents that GCHQ has become Europe's intelligence hub in the internet age, and not just because of its success in creating a legally permissive environment for its operations. Britain's location as the European gateway for many transatlantic cables, and its privileged relationship with the NSA has made GCHQ an essential partner for European agencies. The documents show British officials frequently lobbying the NSA on sharing of data with the Europeans and haggling over its security classification so it can be more widely disseminated. In the intelligence world, far more than it managed in diplomacy, Britain has made itself an indispensable bridge between America and Europe's spies.
**************NSA spying: Germany and Brazil produce draft UN resolution
Document does not name US but calls for end to mass surveillance and gross invasions of privacy
theguardian.com, Saturday 2 November 2013 11.08 GMT
Germany and Brazil have presented a draft resolution to a UN general assembly committee that calls for an end to excessive electronic surveillance, data collection and other gross invasions of privacy.
The draft resolution, which both Germany and Brazil made public on Friday, does not name any specific countries, although UN diplomats said it was clearly aimed at the US, which has been embarrassed by revelations of a massive international surveillance programme from a former US contractor.
The German-Brazilian draft would have the 193-nation assembly declare that it is "deeply concerned at human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of any surveillance of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance of communications".
It would also call on UN member states "to take measures to put an end to violations of these rights and to create the conditions to prevent such violations, including by ensuring that relevant national legislation complies with their obligations under international human rights law".
The resolution will likely undergo changes as it is debated in the general assembly's third committee, which focuses on human rights. It is expected to be put to a vote in the committee this month and then again in the general assembly next month, diplomats said.
"We have received the draft and will evaluate the text on its merits," said an official at the US mission to the UN.
Several diplomats said they would be surprised if the resolution did not receive the support of an overwhelming majority of UN member states.
The Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, and German chancellor, Angela Merkel, have both condemned the widespread snooping by the US National Security Agency. Charges that the NSA accessed tens of thousands of French phone records and monitored Merkel's mobile phone have caused outrage in Europe.
General assembly resolutions are non-binding, unlike resolutions of the 15-nation security council. But assembly resolutions that enjoy broad international support can carry significant moral and political weight.
The resolution would urge states "to establish independent national oversight mechanisms capable of ensuring transparency and accountability of state surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data".
It would also call on the UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay, to prepare and publish a report "on the protection of the right to privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial, including massive, surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data".
Disclosures about a massive US surveillance campaign came from documents leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The US has said it is not monitoring Merkel's communications and will not do so in the future, but has not commented on possible past surveillance.
The UN said this week that the US had pledged not to spy on the world body's communications after a report that the NSA had gained access to the UN video conferencing system.
**************Snowden document reveals key role of companies in NSA data collection
NSA leverages relationships with commercial partners to collect vast quantities of data from fibre-optic cables, file shows
• Tapping fibre-optic cables – see the NSA slide
Ewen MacAskill and Dominic Rushe in New York
theguardian.com, Friday 1 November 2013 21.40 GMT
The key role private companies play in National Security Agency surveillance programs is detailed in a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published for the first time on Friday.
One slide in the undated PowerPoint presentation, published as part of the Guardian's NSA Files: Decoded project, illustrates the number of intelligence reports being generated from data collected from the companies.
In the five weeks from June 5 2010, the period covered by the document, data from Yahoo generated by far the most reports, followed by Microsoft and then Google.
Between them, the three companies accounted for more than 2,000 reports in that period – all but a tiny fraction of the total produced under one of the NSA's main foreign intelligence authorities, the Fisa Amendents Act (FAA).
It is unclear how the information in the NSA slide relates to the companies' own transparency reports, which document the number of requests for information received from authorities around the world.
Yahoo, Microsoft and Google deny they co-operate voluntarily with the intelligence agencies, and say they hand over data only after being forced to do so when served with warrants. The NSA told the Guardian that the companies' co-operation was "legally compelled".
But this week the Washington Post reported that the NSA and its UK equivalent GCHQ has been secretly intercepting the main communication links carrying Google and Yahoo users' data around the world, and could collect information "at will" from among hundreds of millions of user accounts.
The NSA's ability to collect vast quantities of data from the fibre-optic cables relies on relationships with the companies, the document published on Friday shows.
The presentation, titled "Corporate Partner Access" was prepared by the agency's Special Source Operations division, which is responsible for running those programs.
In an opening section that deals primarily with the telecom companies, the SSO baldly sets out its mission: "Leverage unique key corporate partnerships to gain access to high-capacity international fiber-optic cables, switches and/or routes throughout the world."
The NSA is helped by the fact that much of the world's communications traffic passes through the US or its close ally the UK – what the agencies refer to as "home-field advantage".
The new revelations come at a time of increasing strain in relations between the intelligence community and the private sector. Google and Yahoo reacted angrily on Wednesday to the Washington Post's report on the interception of their data.
The Guardian approached all three companies for comment on the latest document.
"This points out once again the need for greater transparency," a Google spokesman said.
He referred to a letter the company and other Silicon Valley giants sent to the Senate judiciary committee on Thursday. "The volume and complexity of the information that has been disclosed in recent months has created significant confusion here and around the world, making it more difficult to identify appropriate policy prescriptions," the letter said.
A Microsoft spokesperson said: "We are deeply disturbed by these allegations, and if true they represent a significant breach of trust by the US and UK governments. It is clear that there need to be serious reforms to better protect customer privacy."
Yahoo had not responded by the time of publication.
The companies are also fighting through the courts to be allowed to release more detailed figures for the number of data requests they handle from US intelligence agencies. Along with AOL, Apple and Facebook, they wrote to the Senate judiciary committee this week calling for greater transparency and "substantial" reform of the NSA.
Google, the first to publish a transparency report, has reported US authorities' requests for user data increased by 85% between 2010 and 2012 (from 8,888 in 2010 to 16,407 in 2012). But the vast majority of those are requests from local law enforcement looking for information about potential drug traffickers, fraudsters and other domestic criminal activity.
Legally compelled NSA request relating to foreign terrorist targets, which none of the firms are allowed to disclose, are thought to represent a tiny fraction of the overall figure.
While the internet companies are listed by name in the NSA document, the telecoms companies are hidden behind covernames.
The names of these "corporate partners" are so sensitive that they are classified as "ECI" – Exceptionally Controlled Information – a higher classification level than the Snowden documents cover. Artifice, Lithium and Serenade are listed in other documents as covernames for SSO corporate partners, while Steelknight is described as an NSA partner facility.
In a statement defending its surveillance programs, the NSA said: "What NSA does is collect the communications of targets of foreign intelligence value, irrespective of the provider that carries them. US service provider communications make use of the same information superhighways as a variety of other commercial service providers.
"NSA must understand and take that into account in order to eliminate information that is not related to foreign intelligence.
"NSA works with a number of partners and allies in meeting its foreign-intelligence mission goals, and in every case those operations comply with US law and with the applicable laws under which those partners and allies operate."
UPDATE: Microsoft issued a further statement after publication of the Guardian's story. A spokesperson said: "Microsoft only discloses customer data when served with valid legal orders and in June we published a complete view of the volume of orders we received from the US government.
"But it is clear that much more transparency is needed to help the companies and their customers understand these issues."
*************NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden says US 'treats dissent as defection'
Former analyst writes letter to German government over response to his 'act of political expression'
Tom McCarthy in New York
theguardian.com, Friday 1 November 2013 21.18 GMT
The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has expressed confidence that international pressure will force the United States to drop its prosecution of his case, in a letter revealed on Friday.
Snowden reflected on his legal status in a letter that was handed in person on Thursday to a member of the German parliament, which is to hold a debate on NSA spying later this month.
"I hope that when the difficulties of this humanitarian situation have been resolved, I will be able to cooperate in the responsible finding of fact regarding reports in the media, particularly in regard to the truth and authenticity of documents," Snowden wrote in the letter, which was addressed to the German government.
Outrage over American spying has grown in Germany since Der Spiegel magazine reported last Saturday that the NSA has been monitoring chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone since 2002. Impassioned opposition to US surveillance has also emerged in Brazil, France and elsewhere – including the United States.
“I am heartened by the response to my act of political expression, in both the United States and beyond,” Snowden wrote, later asserting that "the outcome of my effort has been demonstrably positive".
The US, however, "continues to treat dissent as defection" and "seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense", he wrote.
Hans-Christian Stroebele presents Edward Snowden with an award Hans-Christian Stroebele presents Edward Snowden with the Whistleblower Award 2013. Photograph: Irina Oho/HO/EPA
Snowden was charged in June with unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person. The offenses fall under the US Espionage Act and carry penalties of fines and up to 10 years in prison. Snowden also has been charged with theft of government property, and could face further charges in the future.
A decision not to bring charges against Snowden would require the Obama administration to change its spots. Under President Barack Obama, the department of justice has used the 1917 Espionage Act to bring felony charges against government employees or contractors eight times – compared with three such prosecutions previously ever. A report by the Committee to Protect Journalists found that Obama has pursued the most aggressive "war on leaks" since the famously paranoid Nixon administration.
"I look forward to speaking with you in your country when the situation is resolved, and thank you for your efforts in upholding the international laws that protect us all," Snowden's letter concluded.
*****************White House rejects criticism of Obama over NSA surveillance as rift deepens
Veteran diplomats question NSA director's assertion that ambassadors request monitoring of foreign leaders
Dan Roberts and Paul Lewis in Washington
theguardian.com, Friday 1 November 2013 20.10 GMT
The White House sought on Friday to distance itself from the National Security Agency's monitoring of foreign leaders, rejecting criticism that President Barack Obama was understating his knowledge of the agency's activities.
In a further sign of the growing blame game within Washington over the affair, spokesman Jay Carney said Obama paid close attention to terrorism intercepts but had no need to personally bug the phones of allies.
"The president is a very deliberate consumer of the intelligence gathered for him on national security matters," said Carney. "But when the president wants to find out what the heads of state of friendly nations think, he calls them."
The White House comments followed an admission on Thursday from secretary of state John Kerry that some surveillance practices were carried out "on auto-pilot" and had not been known to the president. That was followed on Thursday night by the NSA director, Keith Alexander, blaming Kerry's own department for driving its spying on friendly world leaders.
"The intelligence agencies don't come up with the requirements. The policymakers come up with the requirements," Alexander said. "One of those groups would have been, let me think, hold on, oh: ambassadors."
Alexander said the NSA collected information when it was asked by policy officials to discover the "leadership intentions" of foreign countries. "If you want to know leadership intentions, these are the issues," he said.
On Friday, veteran US diplomats questioned that assertion.
Thomas Pickering, who served as ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, Jordan and the United Nations, said he found it puzzling that intelligence agencies would interpret requests for information as a green light to bug the phones of friendly government leaders.
"To point the finger at ambassadors as being responsible for generating these requests seems, in my experience, to be far fetched," Pickering told the Guardian.
"In my time, intelligence requirements were never based on collection methods, they were based on intelligence interests. That an ambassador may have been interested in the views of a foreign leader is not a reason to say they had any responsibility for how that information was gathered."
Pickering, who recently led a White House review of the 2012 assassination of the US ambassador to Libya, said he had no direct knowledge but would be surprised to find the NSA was taking direction from ambassadors on such matters.
"It would be self-evident that embassies would be interested in knowing, but it is a huge jump to imagine that an ambassador could somehow be so persuasive as to persuade the intelligence community," he said.
NSA director Gen Keith Alexander. NSA director General Keith Alexander. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP
Alexander's explanation also drew scorn from James Carew Rosapepe, who served as an ambassador under the Clinton administration, who said "we generally don't do that in democratic societies" during an event at the the Baltimore Council on Foreign Relations on Thursday.
Pressed over the apparent "inconsistency" between comments by Alexander and Kerry, Jen Psaki, the state department's chief spokeswoman, said on Friday: "I don't actually think there was an inconsistency … I would just refute the notion of the question."
She added that the reviews into surveillance programs announced by the White House included all branches of government, and that Kerry's remarks applied not just to the state department.
"When the secretary made his comments yesterday, he said 'we'," she said. "He is talking about a collective 'we', as in the entire government is looking at these programs."
November 02, 2013 01:00 AMDianne Feinstein’s Fake FISA Fix May Expand Use of Phone Dragnet
Dianne Feinstein and 10 other Senate Intelligence Committee members approved a bill yesterday that purports to improve the dragnet but actually does almost nothing besides writing down the rules the FISA Court already imposed on the practice.
I’ll have far more on DiFi’s Fake Fix later, but for now, I want to point to language that could dramatically expand use of the phone dragnet database, at least as they’ve portrayed its use.
Here’s how, in June, DiFi described the terms on which NSA could access the dragnet database.
It can only look at that data after a showing that there is a reasonable, articulable that a specific individual is involved in terrorism, actually related to al Qaeda or Iran. At that point, the database can be searched. [my emphasis]
Here are the terms on which her Fake Fix permits access to the database.
there was a reasonable articulable suspicion that the selector was associated with international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor. [my emphasis]
The bill passed yesterday does not require any tie to al Qaeda (or Iran!). An association with al Qaeda (and Iran!) is one possible standard for accessing the database. But it also permits use of the data if someone is “associated with activities in preparation” for international terrorism.
Does that include selling drugs to make money to engage in “terrorism”? Does that include taking pictures of landmark buildings? Does that include accessing a computer in a funny way?
All of those things might be deemed “activities in preparation” for terrorism. And this bill, as written, appears to permit the government to access the database of all the phone-based relationships in the US based not on any known association with al Qaeda (and Iran!), but instead activities that might indicate preparation for terrorism but might also indicate mild nefarious activity or even tourism crossing international borders.
Click to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Jv3xq0JCtY