Report: NSA Violated Privacy Rules “Thousands of Times” Under Warrantless Surveillance Program

National_Security_Agency.svgPresident_Barack_ObamaWhile President Obama continues to tell the public that there is no widespread domestic surveillance program and denies the violation of privacy rights, another report again contradicts those statements. According to the Washington Post, the National Security Agency broke privacy rules thousands of times every year under the warrantless surveillance program. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that civil libertarians view the programs themselves to be violations of Constitution, but the Administration violated even those rules. Moreover, this information did not come from Congress or the White House. It came from Edward Snowden. You remember him. He is the guy Obama said is no patriot and could have taken a different course to address his concerns. The information reviewed by the Post is more than would have been shared with Congress under current rules.

Some of the “inadvertent” spying is astonishing. For example, the NSA according to this article wanted to listen to calls going to Egypt at area code “20” but made a mistake. That mistake happened to capture a “large number” of calls from “202” — Washington D.C.

The violations also included the unauthorized use of information on more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders.

Obama insisted that “a court” reviews these programs, though he is referring to the widely ridiculed FISA court which lacks the authority to seriously monitor the program or reject all but a couple applications in its history.

A NSA official is quoted as saying that they are trying to do better and the public needs to trust the agency: “We’re a human-run agency operating in a complex environment with a number of different regulatory regimes, so at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line.” Sure, but what if these entire warrantless programs are on “the wrong side of the line”?

Source: Washington Post

106 thoughts on “Report: NSA Violated Privacy Rules “Thousands of Times” Under Warrantless Surveillance Program”

  1. L.K. I think the US definitely is run by a deep state, where I will differ from you is I don’t believe this only effects surveillance and war. I don’t think policies can be separated. Everything is of a piece. Two parties are necessary to keep people confused and unable to confront the deep state. Without a true functioning govt. social issues are used as weapons against people. Politicians dole out social issues as needed, when needed. They will remove them when they no longer have a use for you to have those “rights”.

    Thus, Obama only found it convenient to support gay rights after he was down in the polls and wanted some more money. He did a focus group and found that he would receive a lot more donations if he came out for gay rights. It was not until he was assured of the donations that he went public with his “support”. Had the focus group gone another way, or should it go another way in the future, his “support” of gay rights will also go away. That is no basis for trusting someone with your rights. Your rights should not be either given nor taken away because of someone’s need for cash donation.

    The deep state needs you to separate their actions because if you did not, you would see through them. You would understand that a party, Republican or Democratic, who supports a president in murder and torture does not really give a shit about your social rights. One thing we know for certain is that murder and torture are as bipartisan as it gets in this nation. People who support murder and torture do not support human rights. They just don’t.

    I think Obama’s race has been a vital part of the propaganda campaign. Without it, I believe it is doubtful that he could have gone so far in destroying the Constitution. It’s so interesting to listen to people from other countries, like a leader from one of S. African’s mining unions, who was able to speak quite honestly about how the new, rising group of the black ruling class benefited from the horrendous conditions at the mine. He didn’t have the illusions that we have here, I believe, because he was class as well as race conscience.

    Of course it is wrong to point to Obama’s race and criticize him for that. But too many have been very slow to recognize that Obama is himself extremely racist. The economic devastation alone has had disproportionate impact on black families. If you look at who is getting killed around the world and in the US by USGinc. , those people are black and brown. The left should be able to name this and say it is wrong, but people are confused that a black person could somehow never be a racist, when obviously, that isn’t true.

    So anyway, that’s what I think. I’m going to see if my local
    ACLU will offer aid to people who can speak up about NSL. I never underestimate the tools in this govt.’s toolbox and what they can do to people.

  2. Jill: “I am hoping he will inspire others who received NSL to commit civil disobedience and speak out. I don’t think this can be solved legally because the upper courts have been stacked with lackeys. So I think it will take mass civil disobedience. What do you think?”

    Jill, I hope that there would be a massive civil wellspring of opposition to these revelations but I’m not holding my breath. I do think that everyone that receives a NSL should make it public, every single one. Up the ante, see if the government folds. Actually playing that hand might be more damaging to the government than folding. I wouldn’t be sophisticated about it at all because it’s not a sophisticated situation:

    “I got a secret subpoena to name names and hand over information owned by my customers. That subpoena was issued on a secret warrant, signed by a secret court, based on a secret law and a secret interpretation of the law and I was told the whole thing was secret so I shouldn’t ask any questions and, AND I’d be put in jail if is said anything to anybody about it. So I said f*ck you, this isn’t Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany or Communist China, f*uck you, I’ve got rights, Constitutional rights, I’m an American.Then I came on your show.”

    That supposes that any mass media TV -and face it, most Americans get their news from TV -would have him/them on. I think the government does not want that to happen because all embellishment aside, that’s what it’s about. It really is that simple.

    A couple of years ago, well before the election and again closer to the election I said that I thought some things were just gone and weren’t coming back anytime soon. That’s why I was voting for Obama. The whole security-state issue was just not a consideration for me. Republican or Democrat didn’t matter. I felt it had taken on a life of its own and no one, no branch of government was interested in altering the new balance of power. I saw a new, fourth branch of government on the ascendancy that was basically a law unto itself.

    When Congressional oversight committee members play by its rules instead of it playing by theirs, by enforcing their (our) supremacy, well, I’m not encouraged that anything has changed. I described it as a farce earlier and stand by that.

    That’s also why I can rail against the President on this matter and certain economic policy but defend his and the Democratic social (purely social) policies and get so incensed over the blatant racism heaped on him. I’ve bifurcated the parties relationship with the citizens in view of the new composition and alignment of the government.

    In a perfect world that would probably make me a collaborator, like the French citizens during WWII; the resistance was really a very small movement in France. Collaboration by omission if not commission. In terms of Catholic sin there isn’t much difference. I’m still working through how much of that is pragmatism/existentialism and how much of that is just plain cynicism.

    That’s what i think.

  3. I just got more and more depressed and disappointed by this president for whom I rang doorbells, made phone calls and was a foot soldier.
    The Washington Post should print the 90 minute interview it conducted with John DeLong, the NSA’s director of compliance. The White House offered an on-the-record interview with DeLong, then reneged after the fact.

  4. RW Nye,

    I agree with your analysis. Thanks for your response.

    It is a very scary time because the govt. is afraid and is going for broke against our people. For example, I think they will indict Levison to teach him and us a lesson.

    The more awake and aware people are, the more likely we can act together on each other’s behalf.

  5. L.K.,

    I don’t know. It sounds like he may be proceeding by challenging the gag order itself as unconstitutional. I don’t see how that law can stand along side the first amendment. Of course, there’s so much that should not be standing under the Constitution, but it just doesn’t seem to matter.

    This guy seems determined and gutsy. I am hoping he will inspire others who received NSL to commit civil disobedience and speak out. I don’t think this can be solved legally because the upper courts have been stacked with lackeys. So I think it will take mass civil disobedience.

    What do you think?

    1. Jill,

      The only thing that keeps me going in these dark days is the realization that people are beginning to wake up to the fraud and corruption in our government. We are, in fact, just seeing the “tip of the iceberg,” and not just in relation to the NSA. Many, if not not all departments of the Executive Branch have some sort of “dirty doings going on.”

  6. AY and Gene, Dexter is an excellent series of books and TV show. It fills a dark need for a lot of people I’m sure since it’s all about justice. Bad guys get their due regardless of who or what they are. The TV series got away from its roots and made Dexter a more conventionally likable guy but as long as the hypo and packaging stretch-film comes out every episode or two it is worth watching LoL. I’d recommend it, said the poster with the Sweeny Todd Gavatar. 🙂

  7. Jill, Good posting. I saw that last night and the question that has me completely vexed is how does one even proceed at court with that case and how does one defend oneself? The case would be so restricted by the secrecy requirements that it would be entirely superficial.

  8. “By Michael Isikoff
    NBC News National Investigative Correspondent

    The owner of an encrypted email service used by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden said he has been threatened with criminal charges for refusing to comply with a secret surveillance order to turn over information about his customers.

    “I could be arrested for this action,” Ladar Levison told NBC News about his decision to shut down his company, Lavabit LLC, in protest over a secret court order he had received from a federal court that is overseeing the investigation into Snowden.

    Lavabit said he was barred by federal law from elaborating on the order or any of his communications with federal prosecutors. But a source familiar with the matter told NBC News that James Trump, a senior litigation counsel in the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Va., sent an email to Levison’s lawyer last Thursday – the day Lavabit was shuttered — stating that Levison may have “violated the court order,” a statement that was interpreted as a possible threat to charge Levison with contempt of court.
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    Trump, who has been a lead attorney on high-profile leak investigations targeting former CIA officers John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling, did not respond to a request for comment, nor did prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, whose prosecutors have charged Snowden with violations of the Espionage Act. “We have no comment,” said Andrew Ames, a spokesman for the Justice Department.

    Levison, a 32-year-old entrepreneur who ran his company out of a Dallas apartment, said in a public statement last Thursday that he made “the difficult decision” to shut down Lavabit because he did not want “to become complicit in crimes against the American people.”

    The court order that prompted the action is believed by legal observers to be a sealed subpoena or a national security letter requiring him to cooperate in surveillance related to the Snowden investigation. Recipients of such legal orders are barred from publicly comment on them. Levison said he believes this prohibition is a violation of his First Amendment rights while the underlying request violated the Fourth Amendment rights of his customers. “I’m fighting it in every way,” said Levison, adding that he is challenging the government’s action in a federal appeals court.

    “Because the government has barred Lavabit from disclosing the nature of its demands, we still don’t know what information the government is seeking, or why it’s seeking it,” said Ben Wizner, a national security lawyer for the ACLU. “It’s hard to have a debate about the reasonableness of the government’s actions — or Lavabit’s response, for that matter — when we don’t know what we’re debating.”

    Levison said he started Lavabit 10 years ago to capitalize on public concerns about the Patriot Act, offering customers a paid service — between $8 and $16 a year — that would encrypt their emails in ways that would make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for law enforcement agents to decipher. He said that until he shut down, his small company was generating about $100,000 in revenue annually with about 10,000 users paying for the encryption service.

    One who appears to have been a customer was Snowden: When the ex-NSA contractor invited human rights groups to a press conference at the Moscow airport on July 11, his message was communicated from a email address — Snowden himself told Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian last week that he found Levison’s decision to close rather than provide information to the government “inspiring” and asked why other larger companies such as Google “aren’t fighting for our interest the same way small businesses are.”

    Levison stressed that he has complied with “upwards of two dozen court orders” for information in the past that were targeted at “specific users” and that “I never had a problem with that.” But without disclosing details, he suggested that the order he received more recently was markedly different, requiring him to cooperate in broadly based surveillance that would scoop up information about all the users of his service. He likened the demands to a requirement to install a tap on his telephone. Those demands apparently began about the time that Snowden surfaced as one of his customers, apparently triggering a secret legal battle between Levison and federal prosecutors.

    Levison said he has been “threatened with arrest multiple times over the past six weeks,” but that he was making a stand on principle: “I think it’s important to point out that what prompted me to shut down my service wasn’t access to one person’s data. It was about protecting the privacy of all my users.”

    He has also started a legal defense fund and said he’s gotten “an overwhelming response,” raising more than $90,000 in the past few days. Among those now backing him is former Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who told NBC News on Tuesday that Levison’s legal battle “should be in the interests of everybody who cares about liberty.”

  9. ap,

    Actually, “Dexter” is based on a series of books by Jeff Lindsay. The first is titled “Darkly Dreaming Dexter”. They are considerably different than the series in content although the tone is fairly similar. If you like mystery/detective fiction (especially with an odd approach to character), I highly recommend them. Lindsay has a very easy and conversational style that just moves right along.

  10. Why is it the Democrats that are saying it was a mistake and the Republicans that want it investigated. By the way Nixon was ousted for lying to congress about a burglary of Democratic offices, not spying on citizens

  11. Gene H.,

    That was good — I’m still chuckling. (I had to google “Dexter” — I see that it began in 2006, when all hell broke loose…)

    Few laughs these day, so many thanks for that…

    If you want to get what you want (paraphrasing)… “…scare the hell out of the American people.” -Senator Arthur Vandenburg to Truman, according to some.

    “…scare the hell out of the American people.”

    It seems to have worked pretty well. As you said: “Uninformed fear sells.”

  12. ap,

    A fact long known to the observant. It reminds me of the big Tom Ridge chemical/biological weapons scare that had everyone buying plastic sheeting and the like. I’m fairly knowledgeable about chemistry and biology. I knew it was bullshit from the start. But my then wife was in a tizzy about it. So in the name of marital harmony, I went out and bought a bunch of crap I didn’t need or want. While I was in line at the hardware store, I ran in to a buddy from work and we started talking. So there I am with enough plastic sheeting to be on an episode of “Dexter” talking about the very hard reality about chemical and biological weapons and about how most homes simple aren’t constructed to be hermetically sealed. A funny thing happened. People started getting out of line or abandoning their plastic sheeting. But not me. No. Because my wife was so freaked out that had I returned home without said plastic, she’d have reacted like I left the non-existent baby at the store or fed it dingos.

    Fortunately, a couple of month later I decided to paint the living room.

    However, the observation that uninformed fear sells made a lasting impression.

  13. It’s time, now, for Wyden (and others) to do the right thing. Having said this, it’s “we, the people” who let this happen. And it’s “we, the people” who need to fix it. Distractions abound. It’s time to “focus”:


    5 Companies That Make Money By Keeping Americans Terrified of Terror Attacks

    A massive industry profits off the government-induced fear of terrorism.

    1. I’m not surprised to hear that it’s all about $. Now the Republicans want to cut Medicare so we can buy more tanks and put more people in prison and put new machines at airports and. . . ad infinitem. And the Democrats are ready to cave, because after all, it’s so important to have wars going on …

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