Monday, December 23, 2013

NSA Santa's Coming to Town

Watch this informative video of the NSA Santa physically violating your privacy.


Click here for related article:  [The Guardian, Tom McCarthy]

There's a good deal of wry humor in this video parody of a traditional Christmas song.
It's also frighteningly accurate -- in an amusing sort of way.

The findings of the NSA Review Panel have been released, and Mr Obama was "extremely grateful" for the report -- but deferred a commitment to implement the Panel's findings; that would indicate he has no intention of implementing any of the recommendations.

The panel includes Michael Morrell [former Deputy Director of CIA], Richard Clare [former cyber-security advisor], Geoffrey Stone [University of Chicago law professor], Cass Sunstein [Harvard Law Professor], and Peter Swire [Georgia Tech professor and expert in privacy law].

Essentially, the Panel felt that most, if not all of the NSA collection activities were unconstitutional.  They further noted that "... the telephony meta-data obtained for 'terrorist investigations' [by the use of Section 215 of the Patriot Actwas not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional court orders.

Here are the more salient of 
the 46 recommendations:

1)  Move the NSA phone database off-site
     [i.e., out from NSA control and back to the phone companies]. 
     If specific data is required, obtain a court order through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
     Court [FISC] -- and justify it with specific justification and complete documentation.
2)  Terminate NSA's practice of undermining private sector encryption standards
     [i.e., NSA's demand for encryption keys by companies, organizations, email systems, etc.]
3)  Cease industrial espionage against US and foreign industry
4)  Purge all data currently held on US citizens
5)  Curtail National Security Letters [NSL] as a      warrantless, secret demand for information
     a) Allow US companies to reveal when they
         receive National Security Letters [NSL]
     b) NSLs currently direct recipients to
          provide the FBI all information regarding
     c) NSLs currently threaten recipients
         with criminal penalties if they disclose
         receipt of NSLs
     d) Future NSLs can only be obtained
         after judicial review and authorization
         [i.e., get a legal search warrant from the

1)  Between 2003 - 2006, the FBI issued
     192,499 NSL demands; records of NSLs
     from 2006 forward were classified and the
     FBI would not release them.
2)  NSL recipients were not allowed to
     challenge the Letters, or to even seek
     legal counsel
3)  Two Federal District Court judges
     struck down the NSLs as violations
     of the First Amendment
4)  Even with the permissive standards which authorized the FBI to issue these letters, an audit
     revealed that the FBI violated the rules governing the issuance of NSL well over 1,000 times
     between 2002 and 2007
5) The ACLU, in 2008, charged that the US Military was using the FBI to "... skirt legal
     restrictions on domestic surveillance",  based on a review of more than 1,000 documents obtained
     by a DOD FOIA request
6)  The Electronic Frontier Foundation noted that, based on a review of FBI documents obtained in
      a FOIA request, top FBI officials were fully aware of the abuses of the NSLs -- but chose to
      violate the law anyway.

Our Recommendation:

NSA has claimed that they merely collected all this meta-data, but didn't or actually use it for analysis. 

The obvious question then becomes
"Why collect it at all if it's available from the phone/Internet companies."

One answer is that NSA collected the data, then illegally turned it over to the Law Enforcement Community -- and provided analyst support to illegally demonstrate to the Law Enforcement Community how to exploit the data.

If NSA or the Intelligence Community needs specific information, they should obtain a legal warrant and request the phone/Internet companies provide it.  That way, no one will accuse NSA of being an evil-doer, and there will be a paper trail to protect the phone/Internet company from a civil suit.

One question we pose to NSA is:
"Why do you need private sector encryption keys?"
With a budget in the tens of billions of dollars, we would think NSA wouldn't need a cheat sheet; is this an admission the NSA can't break simple encryptions -- with a budget approaching $500 Billion?

Our Caution:

It ain't over til it's over. 
Mr Obama has not committed to implementing the Panel's recommendations
For a full review of how NSA distributes all the data they collect, refer to this link:

This abuse was brought down by two factors
1)  Edward Snowden's publication of NSA records
2)  Federal District Court judges who found FBI's abuses unconstitutional -- and criminal.

Representative King [R-NY] defends NSA's surveillance and encourages Mr Obama to "ignore it."
[I suggest voters in his district ignore Mr King when he runs for reelection].

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV] recently pushed through a procedural measure that would allow for confirmation of Federal Judges by a simple Senate majority; after which a series of appointments will have been made for federal judges who will follow Mr Obama's direction and protect NSA and the Intelligence Community from further legal challenge.

This battle has only begun folks, so stay on your Senator and Congressperson to make sure this whole debacle is not buried.

Don't accept Mr Snowden's prediction that "Nothing Will Change"

We firmly believe that if Mr Obama's hand is not forced, he will not end NSA's data mining.
Will Obama really curb NSA Data Mining? Not until Congress forces him to!

It's up to you to let your political representatives know this conduct by NSA and the Intelligence Community is unacceptable.