Report: NSA Allowed To Use “Inadvertently Acquired” Communications

President_Barack_ObamaNational_Security_Agency.svgWe have seen a continuing array of spins by the White House and its allies to excuse the massive assault on privacy in the recently revealed warrantless surveillance programs. This effort has included perjury by high-ranking officials, an effort to redefine privacy in a new surveillance-friendly image, ever increasing claims of averting “plots” and misdirection toward other “threats” to privacy. However, one of the consistent claims has been that no content of communications was reviewed — an argument that itself is fallacious. Now however it appears that even that assurance is false. There are various reports that the content of the warrantless communications was accessible. Now, it has also been confirmed that there are two documents dated July 2009 and signed by Attorney General Holder allows the NSA to use “inadvertently acquired” communications.

We have previously discussed the repeatedly insistence by Obama that his Administration would go to a “court” for the review of any actual communications. As noted earlier, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), or secret court, is treated as if it were a real court or had some meaningful powers of review. Obama previously told Charlie Rose, “That’s why we set up the FISA court.” Of course, he did not set up the FISA court which has been around for decades and widely ridiculed as an absurd rubberstamp for the intelligence agency. Only a couple of applications have been denied in the history of that “court.” When I had occasion to get into the court as a young intern with NSA, it set in place a lifelong opposition to it as an insult to the very concept of legal process. For Obama to cite this “court” as the guarantee of transparency is nothing short of insulting. This is the court that classifies (at the demand of Obama’s Administration) the very legal interpretations used to justify massive warrantless searches of citizens.

It now appears that this “court” agreed to allow the Administration to use the content of communications that are inadvertently gathered. In addition, the latest report from Glenn Greenwald and James Ball state “The broad scope of the court orders, and the nature of the procedures set out in the documents, appear to clash with assurances from President Obama and senior intelligence officials that the NSA could not access Americans’ call or e-mail information without warrants.”

The FISA court reportedly allowed the NSA to keep data “that could potentially contain details of U.S. persons” for up to five years, and to retain and use “inadvertently acquired” domestic communications that contain “usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cybersecurity.”

As previously discussed, it is not clear why citizens should believe assurance from the government and Congress given the refusal to deal with past perjury by people like Clapper or the ever-climbing claims made by officials. In the meantime, Eric Holder is continuing his role as the President’s “sin eater” in ignoring such admitted false statements to avoid enforcing the criminal laws against Administration officials like Clapper. So much for the person a MSNBC contributor calls the “Moses of our time.”

The latest report states that “the material collected can be retained, if it is useful, though in a segregated database.” If true, it would be the ultimate expression of the new privacy under Obama. The question is no longer whether it is constitutional, just whether it is useful.

Source: Guardian

35 thoughts on “Report: NSA Allowed To Use “Inadvertently Acquired” Communications

  1. “Inadvertently collected” materials, as soon as they are identified as being such, should be immediately and permanently deleted. No ifs, no buts, no exceptions. Of course, I am not surprised to see the government taking a somewhat different view…

  2. So if we keep getting little pieces of bad news every day will forget that all of this together is a gross violation of our Constitution? But we are protected! So all is well. BS

    Wake up America, our President is in gross violation of the Constitution he swore to protect. Impeach NOW.

  3. Kilgore: Smell that? You smell that?

    Lance: What?

    Kilgore: Pants on fire, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that.


    Kilgore: I love the smell of pants on fire in the morning. You know, one time we had the Hill sodium pentathol-bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ politician’s body. The smell, you know that burnt gaberdine and wool blend smell, the whole hill. Smelled like

    [sniffing, pondering]

    Kilgore: standard operating procedure for fascists. Someday this war on American’s rights is gonna end…

    [suddenly walks off]

  4. How can anything be inadvertent when they have collected the entirety of the evidence illegally and completely?

    When I had executed search warrants (say for drugs) and had in the scope of the search found something else (such as illegally possessed firearms) We had to obtain another search warrant to seize the guns. (per WA case law) It seemed a reasonable balance to me.

  5. “inadvertently gathered” sounds like “that fast, officer, geez, my speedometer must be broken” or “that’s not mine, I found it on the ground” …

  6. You are spot on Darren. When all of this “collecting” was done secretly how in in earth can anyone believe that any of the collecting is “inadvertent”?! If it was inadvertent, then why would they need to keep it? Disgusting. The FISA court needs to be opened wide for inspection and disinfecting.

  7. The FISA court is a joke, always has been and always will be. It is the fiction of a court based process to complement the fiction of Administration legal opinions upon which the legality of Constitutional abuse rest. That the opinions and the court proceedings and filings are secret tells America all we need to know. The FISA court doesn’t even rise to the level of a well constructed beard, it’s more like a ratty old mirken that needs to be retired.

  8. Yes, the president lied, directly and blatantly lied to the people. Many in the Congress have lied. Many in the “intelligence” community lied. They have broken their oaths of office and brought down the rule of law.

    I want to go back in time a bit: “We’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious FISA court.” David Addington

    At that time, clearly the govt. felt somewhat restrained by the law. They also looked to using terrorism as the method to destroy it.

    I keep trying to understand how it came to be that Congress and the judiciary lost any semblance of self respect. Yes, I understand they are making a lot of money and drawing power off the “war” on a noun. Still, we seemed to have had people in power who, while still power/wealth mongers, had some sense of lines they wouldn’t cross.

    There appear to be a few such people left but not very many.

    The use of terrorism as a way to destroy the rule of law was obviously planned and well executed. I’m hoping people will see that terrorism is being used as a tool of oppression. It has never been about making people safe.

    That is where things now stand. If the govt. feared the law once, they may possibly be brought into compliance with it again. I think they still fear it because they are going after every person who points out how they are breaking it.

  9. To our NSA and our misguided President… I have a good use for your inadvertently Acquired Communications…. Jam them up your butts, to keep your useless brains from falling out!

  10. We should never forget we are going against “centuries” of legal precedence today. The Magna Carta was established in the year 1215 and the Writ of Habeas Corpus was established around the year 1100 – this was established Old English law and the way civilized societies were supposed to operate.

    One factor for causing the American Revolutionary War was that 18th Century England’s monarchy was violating it’s own rule of law. The contract between the government and it’s citizens was breached.

    Madison and the other Framers were far tougher leaders than any of our leaders today (thoroughly familiar with war and consequences) and the American government model was supposed to heed the mistakes based on the results of over 2000 years of world history (predating the Bible). For context there are no American historians alive today that have studied or read more books than Madison did – his scholarship can’t be duplicated today.

    We ignore their wisdom at our peril!

  11. When I worked @ Leavenworth I had bailiff detail for a week @ the disciplinary hearing. I would escort the inmate into the hearing and the inmate would be asked questions about rule violations. Most admitted then[drugs, fighting, shank, etc.]. But some would contest them. In that week, after every inmate was found in violation, I would then escort them to the hole. Now..virtually all these guys were guilty, but the FISA “court” sounds a lot like the Leavenworth “court.”

  12. And there’s more-”
    GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world’s communications

    Exclusive: British spy agency collects and stores vast quantities of global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories and calls, and shares them with NSA, latest documents from Edward Snowden reveal.” The Guardian

  13. from the article: “GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.

    This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user’s access to websites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets.

    The existence of the programme has been disclosed in documents shown to the Guardian by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as part of his attempt to expose what he has called “the largest programme of suspicionless surveillance in human history”.

  14. How the NSA’s Surveillance Procedures Threaten Americans’ Privacy

    June 21, 2013

    Newly released documents confirm what critics have long suspected—that the National Security Agency, a component of the Defense Department, is engaged in unconstitutional surveillance of Americans’ communications, including their telephone calls and emails. The documents show that the NSA is conducting sweeping surveillance of Americans’ international communications, that it is acquiring many purely domestic communications as well, and that the rules that supposedly protect Americans’ privacy are weak and riddled with exceptions.

    The FISA Amendment Act, signed into law by President Bush in 2008, expanded the government’s authority to monitor Americans’ electronic communications. Critics of the law feared the NSA would use the law to conduct broad surveillance of Americans’ international communications and, in the process, capture an unknown quantity of purely domestic communications. Government officials contended that the law authorized surveillance of foreign nationals outside the United States—not of Americans—and that it included robust safeguards to protect Americans’ privacy. Last year, in a successful effort to derail a constitutional challenge to the law, the Obama administration made these same claims to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Now The Guardian has published two previously secret documents that show how the FISA Amendments Act is being implemented. One document sets out the government’s “targeting procedures”—the procedures it uses to determine whether it has the authority to acquire communications in the first place. The other sets out the government’s “minimization procedures”—the procedures that govern the retention, analysis, and dissemination of the communications it acquires. Both documents—the “Procedures”—have apparently been endorsed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees government surveillance in some national security cases.

    The Procedures are complex, but at least some of their flaws are clear.

    (Summary follows.)

  15. Ross 1, June 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    We should never forget we are going against “centuries” of legal precedence today. The Magna Carta was established in the year 1215 and the Writ of Habeas Corpus was established around the year 1100 – this was established Old English law and the way civilized societies were supposed to operate.

    Yes, but after that came “the king can do no wrong.”

    We have yet another myth we must deal with:

  16. Could a small time inventor like Edison or Henry Ford have created their innovations in today’s lawless police state? Campaign contributors drive the surveillance/national security industry (not facts) – would that qualify as “significant intelligence”?

    It may not be as far fetched as you think. The ACLU recently had a case in front of the US Supreme Court where corporations were trying to patent human nature (breast cancer genes). This same court also defined Eminent Domain to now include private companies.

    CoinTelPro and other programs can be used as a form of detention so why not label an Edison as a terrorist? The honest answer when operating outside constitutional boundaries, nobody really knows what they are doing.

  17. From BoingBoing regarding a Guardian article. The British and Americans are acting hand in glove to sweep up communications and share them around.

    “Brit spies GCHQ harvest all undersea cable comms, all UK calls and data, share with 850,000+ NSA spooks and contractors”

    “The Guardian has published information from another Edward Snowden leak, this one detailing a British wiretapping program by the UK spy agency GCHQ that puts Prism to shame. The GCHQ program, called Tempora, stores all submarine cable traffic and all domestic traffic (Internet packets and recordings of phone-calls) for 30 days, using NSA tools to sort and search it; the quid-pro-quo being that the NSA gets to access this data, too. The program is reportedly staffed by 300 GCHQ spies and 250 NSA spies, and the data produced by the taps is made available to 850,000 NSA employees and contractors. This is all carried out under the rubric of RIPA, the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, a UK electronic spying law passed by Tony Blair’s Labour government.”

    Link to the source article:

  18. This just in:

    U.S. charges Snowden with espionage

    “Federal prosecutors have filed a sealed criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a trove of documents about top-secret surveillance programs, and the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant, according to U.S. officials.

    Snowden was charged with espionage, theft and conversion of government property, the officials said.”

  19. I predict that the Democratic Party will lose much of its following and support because of the Prism fiasco and betrayal by Obama of the national trust. Spying on us is going to erupt. The Snowden prosecution is a big mistake. The GOP gophers are not better but they might put up some guy like Rand Paul on an individual rights plank and win in the next Presidential election. That is where I see it going. Hilary has to denounce the NSA programs or retire back to New York with Billy Clinton and call it quits. This indictment of the whistleblower is a big mistake Obama.

  20. Say, Mr. President & the NSA…. Do I have to report my bowel movements to you…. Or do you already have your noses up my butt???? Just asking….

  21. Anonymously posted : Thanks for the post. I had not seen the before. I reviewed some of the cases which they litigated. This is a very important org and I am glad to know about it.

  22. lottakatz 1, June 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    From BoingBoing regarding a Guardian article. The British and Americans are acting hand in glove to sweep up communications and share them around.
    It has been that way for a long time (A Tale of Coup Cities – 4).

  23. Thanks Dredd. You might like this, it’s an excellent observation IMO and right up your alley, so much so that you’ve probably read it already. :-)

  24. Couldn’t figure out which column to post this to but it’s not just federal
    “In 2010, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli led a witch-hunt against respected climate scientist Michael Mann, simply because he didn’t like his academic conclusions. He subpoenaed thousands of Professor Mann’s emails from his time at the University of Virginia — a gross and unnecessary overreach of his role as Attorney General.” (even the VA Supreme Court agreed)”
    May have been subpoenaed but what did he have to do that? None I would think.

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