The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.
Showing posts with label Snowden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Snowden. Show all posts

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Defector: Snowden, Liberals, Libertarianism, The Rolling Stones


               

Ultra liberals are admirable people. They want a society that is humane, civil, helpful to people (in need), abhor self-serving corporatists (plutocrats), and also believe in their interpretation of the US Constitution. Freedom of Speech is a deep-rooted human right and will always receive vehement defense from the Left (even more vehemently from the far Left).   

Personal privacy and our beloved Internet adds additional dynamics to liberal angst in the Edward Snowden defection against the United States.  I can personally recall no issue that has generated more bi-partisan thought and comment from people on the Right and the Left. There actually exist a large group of people on the Left who fall very close to many on the Right in support of Snowden as a harmful tool of espionage (albeit it self-ordained) and defection against US national security. Of even more relevance, the existential reality of Snowden's violation of his sworn commitment to uphold US security related secrets (materiel, procedure and methodology). The act of surreptitious gathering and collecting information outside of his specific area of duty, factually reminds of other US citizens who spied and performed other acts of espionage against the United States. 

Liberal angst against the United States regarding Snowden and his treasonous acts, is misguided and factually dangerous.  Ron Paul has previously stated that other NSA employees should follow Snowden's treasonous acts. Well, such is not a surprise from a libertarian who has publicly espoused legalizing heroin, abolishing the FEMA and being willingly photographed with white supremacist. And, a person who is "the" public figure of current libertarian thought which is as anti- federal government as deep Democrat segregationist of the 1950s and 1960s. The analogy relates to Libertarianism and a collective predominate affinity for "states rights".   When Libertarianism meets deep liberal thought and paradigm on any issues, strange human behavior manifest.   A classic example was a recent exhibition of 'booing" Nancy Pelosi at the Netroots Nation event  at which she stated Snowden had "broken the law."  It was an inarguable point!

The People's View  June 23, 2013
Speaking at Netroots Nation in San Jose, the House Democratic leader said Snowden "did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents," prompting loud boos and heckling from the crowd.


I strongly suspect the very liberals, and progressives who perpetrated the 'booing" of Nancy Pelosi felt a great deal of chagrin during the GOP debate when Rick Perry was behaviorally lauded with loud applause and yelps as he 'bragged' about executions in his state.   We posit the exhibition against Pelosi, like that for Perry from the far Right, was unfair, inappropriate and uncharacteristic of the poli/social Left

There exist an intriguing and interesting set of treatises on Snowden  NSA monitoring, and liberal angst.

The People's View

Sunday, June 23, 2013 |  

What is the key difference between liberals and right wingers? Sure, we have different issue positions, but the difference is deeper than that. Liberals let the facts guide the debate, and conservative wingbats shout down facts they do not like. So Nancy Pelosi went to Netroots Nation in San Jose, CA last night and stated an incontrovertible fact: Edward Snowden violated the law. Video above linked here: http://youtu.be/N2GyyXM__aw 
The reaction? 
Speaking at Netroots Nation in San Jose, the House Democratic leader said Snowden "did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents," prompting loud boos and heckling from the crowd. 
Nancy Pelosi got booed for stating a fact: Edward Snowden violated the law. When facts begin to get booed because they poke holes into your ideological bubble, I humbly suggest you lose the 'progressive' label. 
Constitutional Amendment Rights

The People's View published a piece early this morning about the Fourth Amendment in the context of a crash course spanning NSA Programs and the Constitution. 
A Crash Course in the NSA Programs and the Fourth Amendment
While out of chronological context, we offer yet another and final piece from The People's View dated July 2nd, 2013.

Liberal Obama hatred from the Left
How the Professional Left's Blind Obama Hatred Got them Played by a Far-Right Nutjob
Some outlets reported last week that NSA leaker and fugitive Edward Snowden was caught into a bit of hypocrisy: public chat records indicate that back in the ancient times of 2009, he wanted leakers "shot in the balls."
Spandan C continued.
Yeah, he said that. But that's not all he said. Oh, no. The Technology site Ars Technica posted extensive public chat logs from Snowden, then using the monkier TheTrueHOOHA, that confirms what I had suspected since finding his campaign contributions to Glenn Greenwald's straight crush Ron Paul.
So let's talk about this man that has been granted hero status by the Left's loudest prognosticators and provocateurs. The transcripts released by Ars Technica are about a lot more than Snowden's previous contempt for leakers. He hated social security, loved Ron Paul and his ideas, and peddled the NRA's garbage about fighting the government with guns. He suggested punishing both leakers and publications that publish the leaks. All in all, Edward Snowden is a right wing, anti-government nutjob who has managed to become the hero of so many on the reactionary Left. (Highlight above by Scandan C).
Read more (A must read)

I doubt one American relishes the thought of an over-hanging monitoring authority snooping into our personal communications. In an idle world, I would certainly stand tall in solidarity with the sentiment. We are not, however, living in the 1700s, thus our communication reaches far beyond face-to-face talk, carrier pigeons, or night riders (such As Paul Revere. And, no he did not warn the British Mrs. Palin). Technology has taken communication right into our private lives (via cellular phones) and our dinning room tables via laptop computers). The very same communication quorums are available to people who would do the nation great harm. Factually, Osama bin Laden was discovered to have Bradley Manning leaked materiel on his Laptop.


It does not take a multi-billion dollar reverse engineering laboratory for urban and field enemies to determine actionable intelligence from leaks as those perpetrated by Snowden.


Have we become nascent haters of the Administration because it is a progressive Administration, and "...should not act as such?"  Or, have we become so mistrusting of the president we feel he has factually transformed into a reincarnation of George W. Bush.  I posit we know better!

We agree completely with The People's View. Rights to privacy are sacred. Rights to open communication is sacred. We feel strongly monitoring of communications via NON-SNOOPING data-mining does not constitute "listening" to our calls. 

The Left must realize there is a social political entity sitting in wait for disgruntled voters to lean in their direction. No one from the far Left will ever support anything right of the nation's poli/social center.  There are, and dangerously so, large swaths of voters who are falling victim to the non-reality of snooping into their private lives, succumbing to the freight mongers who could be anti-federal government (particularly with Barack Obama in the White House), and they may succumb to moneyed plutocrats who stand to benefit from unhappiness, a lack of solidarity and malcontent on the Left. Lest we forget major danger in falling for the Snowden political moves (and defection) which factually benefit "non-friendly" international adversaries.

Finally, Mick Jagger's quip as the Rolling Stones ended their DC show, was somewhat ill-advised. While it is refreshing to see the elderly rocker is up on the NSA monitoring program, we have to realize he is also "up-on" the very malcontent we have addressed in this shared piece with The People's View.  Jagger was probably seeking a bit of "We know your issues (in the States) and we find alleged snooping distasteful" humor.  OK, fine, but Jagger received major boos. We do not know if the boos referenced NSA monitoring, President Obama (as named), of Jagger's foray into US social issues.  

Of particular note, we can find no record Jagger criticized the former President for an INTEL program that started as far back as 2002.  He did not speakout when Verizon admitted to cooperation via monitoring by the FBI/NSA in 2006. Nor, did the elderly rocker speak so boldly about allegations that members of the British Government may have been on the take with Ruppert Murdoch's News Corps reporters and executives.

A little something for Jagger.



It really is sad to the elder statesman of rock, via quip, inadvertently aligned with people such as the following. The ever-present "separatist/segregationist/opportunistic" Rand Paul goes public.

Huff Post (Linked above)
Conservatives were quick to jump on the comment. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted the quote Tuesday morning, much to the delight of his followers (in less than 2 hours, the below tweet dialed up three times the number of retweets as Rand's previous tweet, which was posted 20 hours ago).


Senator Rand Paul


“I don’t think President Obama is here tonight, but I’m sure he’s listening in.” - Mick Jagger, last night in concert in Washington.


There are times when it is best for entertainers to stick with what they know and do best when they not longstanding advocates for issues from the stage.  The Stones are not noted for such political alignment.

In fairness, and as indicated via update in the linked Huff Post piece above, Jagger tweeted a days or so later support for Obama's climate change initiatives.

The foibles on the Left and 'slick' operatives who support the latest US Defector: Edward Snowden.
StumbleUpon

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pew Research: 56% Find Surveillance Palatable; Millennials Seems Unconcerned!

  

Allow me to open with the fact that I also am not comprehensively enamored with how our world has been turned upside down regarding authorized surveillance. It seems in most industrialized nations increased surveillance is as common as American hotcakes and maple syrup. America has been forced to join other societies in surveillance not common in our nation prior to 9.11.2011.

While I have an innate concern with surveillance,  I am committed to the position that the nation must undertake any measure to deprive secretive enemies of the state opportunity to coordinate attacks. My thoughts are also supported by years of angst in watching surreptitious monitoring (spying) develop to its current state. The US government used wiretaps to dismantle the Mafia, disrupt and plot against the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (COINTELPRO and similar measures), against Martin Luther King, against the Ku Klux Klan (quite gleefully) and against Occupy Wall Street.  

These measures are not new, and when the measures show they work, it is hard for me to find major fault.  Of course, we now have opportunity to shape the programs if our INTEL and security agencies will allow such. "Shape"?  We really should have some degree of transparency and assurance of how the programs are used with a focus on educating slightly less than half the nation which appears very concerned. 

Since late early 2002, a number of "terrorist" attacks against the United States have been thwarted, disrupted or "busted in the act."  A few of such attempts failed based on divine intervention via bomb equipment failures.  There is one case that is very much attributable to some monitoring of people who had connections in foreign countries known as terror heavens (i.e., Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen). I will add another critical point.   We as citizens have no idea or may not be able to comprehend the extent of success in eliminating many Al Qaeda leaders and fighters (Via the hated drone attacks) could have some data and information feeds via similar programs.  One very clear and well reported cases involved a home-grown terrorist and a few high school friends (plus his father in cover-up). 


The case of a Colorado man (his father's attempts at cover-up) are reported to be directly attributable to monitoring (email and possibly).


".....Najibullah Zazi, 26, who admitted to planning an attack on New York City with assistance from Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan."  Zazi and three co-defendant planned to bomb the NYC City subway systems. You can only imagine the plot involved high traffic periods.  After last week's revelations of Edward Snowden an INTEL official spoke openly on cable news about the plot and how Zazi communicated to handlers in Pakistan about failed bomb components. 

Let's take a moment and review a few passages related to Zazi and his (foiled) plot to perpetrate mayhem in the NYC subway system. First, a question, "Have you ever been in the NYC subways system at peak travel times and at high volumes train locations (train stops)?"


Najibullah Zazi
Zarein Ahmedzay
Adis Medunjanin



Excerpt 

The admitted mastermind of a foiled plot to bomb New York subways testified Tuesday that he wanted to wage jihad in Afghanistan after coming to believe that the U.S. government was behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Excerpt
Zazi has testified that during their 2008 trip to Pakistan, the three Americans met a top al-Qaida operative they knew only as Hamad. Authorities say Hamad was Adnan Shukrijumah, a Saudi still listed on an FBI website as a fugitive who plotted attacks for al-Qaida worldwide.
Excerpt
The men ended up choosing the subway because "it's the heart of everything in New York City," Zazi said Wednesday.
Read more
Email to handlers led to dismantling the plot. 

Excerpt
The government’s broad programs to collect U.S. phone records and Internet traffic helped disrupt a 2009 plot to bomb the New York City subways, a senior U.S. intelligence official said. 
But the assertion raises as many questions as it answers because court testimony indicated the subway plot investigation began with an email.
Excerpt
Afghan-American Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty in the 2009 plot, saying he had been recruited by al-Qaida in Pakistan. 
The break in that case came, according to court documents and testimony, when Zazi emailed a Yahoo address seeking help with his bomb recipe. 
At that time, British intelligence officials knew the Yahoo address was associated with an al-Qaida leader in Pakistan. That’s because, according to British government documents released in 2010, officials had discovered it on the computer of a terror suspect there months earlier. 
Because the NSA and British intelligence work so closely together and so little is known about how the NSA monitors email traffic, it’s possible that both agencies were monitoring the Yahoo address at the time Zazi sent the critical email in 2009. 
What’s unclear, though, is how the phone program aided the investigation, which utilized court-authorized wiretaps of Zazi and his friends.
 Read More   (A must read)
As stated previously, I am not totally excited about knowing my Verizon phone calls, my email and other electronic communication are pat of a meta-database, or read by people like Edward Snowden. I am completely in sync with the Administration killing known terrorist and fighters (I also abhor callous slaying of innocents). On the other hand, I would not like to have witnessed another massacre as we witnessed on 9/11.  A successful slaughter in the NYC subway systems could have been equally catastrophic and even more psychologically devastating to the nation. Even if you are not an investor another consideration is the deep losses in the financial sector post 9/11.  The monitoring may help to ward-off loss of life, damage to national security, and deep financial losses when the US can ill afford such setbacks.

Apparently, a slight majority of a specific survey group felt they would prefer the security of monitoring to ward-off or mitigate clear and-present danger.

Pew Research

Reuters NEWS & INSIGHT

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center and The Washington Post, conducted June 6-9 among 1,004 adults, finds no indications that last week’s revelations of the government’s collection of phone records and internet data have altered fundamental public views about the trade off between investigating possible terrorism and protecting personal privacy.  

The small survey group (1,000 respondents) interwove their sentiments regrading surveillance in a most interesting and probably accurate manner.  You will notice the preponderance of users (the young) in this small survey group does not seem to consider surveillance a critical issue.
 6-10-13 #1                                     6-10-13 #2 6-10-13 #4

6-10-13 #8

Pew....

Currently 62% say it is more important for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy. Just 34% say it is more important for the government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats.
Read much more 


We will again state the right to modify my positions on national surveillance. Until effective methods of combating enemies of the state, who must use communications tools for expedience, are available I remain open to surveillance.   My openness is buoyed by the fact that the programs are not new to our world, and may have developed more technological based as unstoppable technology continues to develop. 

Additional information sources

CBS Denver

People Press Dot Org

Reuters


StumbleUpon

Morning Java: Did Obama Say His Administration Briefed Congress?




Enjoy while the caffeine kicks-in!!!!


PRISM Briefings to go along with your Sumatra,  Kopi Luwak IndonesianKenya AA, Tanzanian, French Roast, Kona Coast, 'Black Ivory' [Thai Elephant Dong],  Jamaica Blue Mountain, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Costa Rican, Espresso,  Moyobama Peruvian Organic, Indonesian Blend, Coffee Latte, Kauai Blend (often bitter), Colombian Red Lips, or your Folgers 100% Colombian.

                 

Not good company Edward!

We actually have some members of the US Congress who are claiming they had no knowledge of the NSA Communications monitoring program.  We realize that congress suffered a major upheaval in 2010 as knee-jerk reaction to Barack  Obama, 44th President of the United States, and as an outcome of heavily funded "bait and switch" tea party organizers (and moneymen). Yet, we feel the majority of members of congress were actually seated in their respective chambers when this monitoring program was publicized:  


AT&T engineer: NSA built secret rooms in our facilities
Mark Klein, an AT&T engineer and witness in the EFF's case against the company …
by  - Apr 12 2006, 11:55am CDT
The White House has gone a bit more transparent than some in Congress seem to find comfortable.   Huffington Post has reported 22 cases of Huffington Post members of the House and Senate.  Apparently, a senior administration official gave Huntington Post the following list of briefings. 

10/19/11: Meeting with Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Staff
1/10/12: House Judiciary Committee Staff Briefings (majority and minority separately briefed)
1/11/12: Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Briefings (majority and minority separately briefed)
3/5/12: Meeting with Nancy Pelosi
3/8/12: Meeting with Harry Reid Staff
3/15/12: Law Briefing for Senate Judiciary Committee staff
3/15/12: Briefing for Senate Leadership Staff
3/21/12: Meeting with Mitch McConnell Staff
3/23/12: Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Briefing at NSA
3/27/12: Meeting with Jim Langevin
3/28/12: Meeting with Jan Schakowsky
3/29/12: Thompson Meeting*
3/29/12: Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall Meeting
4/10/12: Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Briefing (in Virginia)
4/20/12: Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Briefing at FBI
5/4/12: Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Briefing
5/31/12: House Judiciary Committee FAA Hearing (unclassified)
6/7/12: House Judiciary Committee MEMBER Briefing (classified)
6/11/12: Meeting with Patrick Leahy Staff
6/21/12: House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Hearing (classified)
7/18/12: Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse/Richard Blumenthal Meeting
12/10/12: Akaka Meeting

* The Washington Post reported the meeting as with Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.).

Huffington Post provided additional comment about efforts to confirm congressional attendance in these meetings.  As I read the Huff PO piece, I was reminded an absence of ground swell of comment from congressionals about the PRISM Program. 

Of course, Ron Paul is buoyed by Snowden's comment that he voted for Paul in 2008.  Now, that speaks volumes for me. And, yes "I want to be president"  Rand Paul is not among members of Congress who have avoided admissions of PRISM Briefings.  Of course,  Paul was not in congress prior to his tea party victory in 2010. His father was certainly in Congress and I would be very hard pressed to imagine Ron Paul was not aware of such monitoring.

I am not much of a "conspiracy  Inspector Clouseau" but this one is starting to stink quite a bit.

It would have been much better to see a "NAMED"
Administration official divulge the list (Transparency)

StumbleUpon

Monday, June 10, 2013

ProPublica Offers NSA Monitoring Timeline; PEW Survey Majority Approve Monitoring




Pew Research June 10, 2013

A few days ago ProPublica published a timeline of the US "Mass Surveillance" Program.  The timeline is critical for two reason. 

First, a reminder that much of the flack from people like Ron Paul, the entirety of Fox News and other conservative opportunistic vultures have to be countered by facts regarding genesis of the program.  As to the alleged, "It has been invigorated under Obama", well so has efforts to attack the US. Factually the program paid off big in 2011 as a bomb plot was thwarted as the bomber enter the New York Metro Ara. His arrest and eventual conviction are directly attributable to the NSA's monitoring (Probably the PRISM Program).   We have posted links to articles showing AT & T and NSA cooperation in phone system monitoring in San Francisco in 2006.

The second reason for posting the timeline is far more basic. We want to join ProPublica in providing a fact based chronology of what has developed onto the PRISM Program.  Multiple source for such information provides opportunity for educated people.  You will not find a comparable Timeline on CNN and Fox News.  In fact, I have not seen such a comprehensive timeline on MSNBC.

Mass Surveillance in America: A Timeline of Loosening Laws and Practices



On Wednesday, the Guardian published a secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over data for all the calls made on its network on an “ongoing, daily basis.” Other revelations about surveillance of phone and digital communications have followed.
That the National Security Agency has engaged in such activity isn’t entirely new: Since 9/11, we've learned about large-scale surveillance by the spy agency from a patchwork of official statements, classified documents, and anonymously sourced news stories.
1978

Surveillance court created

Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) led the investigation.

After a post-Watergate Senate investigation documented abuses of government surveillance, Congress passes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to regulate how the government can monitor suspected spies or terrorists in the U.S. The law establishes a secret court that issues warrants for electronic surveillance or physical searches of a “foreign power” or “agents of a foreign power” (broadly defined in the law). The government doesn’t have to demonstrate probable cause of a crime, just that the “purpose of the surveillance is to obtain foreign intelligence information.”
The court’s sessions and opinions are classified. The only information we have is a yearly report to the Senate documenting the number of “applications” made by the government. Since 1978, the court has approved thousands of applications – and rejected just 11.


Oct. 2001

Patriot Act passed

President George W. Bush signs the Patriot Act.
In the wake of 9/11, Congress passes the sweeping USA Patriot Act. One provision, section 215, allows the FBI to ask the FISA court to compel the sharing of books, business documents, tax records, library check-out lists – actually, “any tangible thing” – as part of a foreign intelligence or international terrorism investigation. The required material can include purely domestic records.

Oct. 2003

‘Vacuum-cleaner surveillance’ of the Internet

Mark Klein
AT&T technician Mark Klein discovers what he believes to be newly installed NSA data-mining equipment in a “secret room” at a company facility in San Francisco. Klein, who several years later goes public with his story to support a lawsuit against the company, believes the equipment enables “vacuum-cleaner surveillance of all the data crossing the Internet – whether that be peoples' e-mail, web surfing or any other data.”

March 2004

Ashcroft hospital showdown

Attorney General John Ashcroft
In what would become one of the most famous moments of the Bush Administration, presidential aides Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzalesshow up at the hospital bed of John Ashcroft. Their purpose? To convince the seriously ill attorney general to sign off on the extension of a secret domestic spying program. Ashcroft refuses, believing the warrantless program to be illegal.
The hospital showdown was first reported by the New York Times, but two years later Newsweek provided more detail, describing a program that sounds similar to the onethe Guardian revealed this week. The NSA, Newsweek reported citing anonymous sources, collected without court approval vast quantities of phone and email metadata "with cooperation from some of the country’s largest telecommunications companies" from "tens of millions of average Americans." The magazine says the program itself began in September 2001 and was shut down in March 2004 after the hospital incident. But Newsweek also raises the possibility that Bush may have found new justification to continue some of the activity.

Dec. 2005

Warrantless wiretapping revealed


Michael Hayden, director of the NSA when the warrantless wiretapping began
The Times, over the objections of the Bush Administration, reveals that since 2002 the government “monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants.” The program involves actually listening in on phone calls and reading emails without seeking permission from the FISA Court.

Jan. 2006

Bush defends wiretapping


President Bush speaks at Kansas State University.
President Bush defends what he calls the “terrorist surveillance program” in a speech in Kansas. He says the program only looks at calls in which one end of the communication is overseas.

March 2006

Patriot Act renewed

The Senate and House pass legislation to renew the USA Patriot Act with broad bipartisan support and President Bush signs it into law. It includes a few new protections for records required to be produced under the controversial section 215.

May 2006

Mass collection of call data revealed


USA Today reports that the NSA has been collecting data since 2001 on phone records of “tens of millions of Americans” through three major phone companies, Verizon, AT&T, and BellSouth (though the companies level of involvement is later disputed.) The data collected does not include content of calls but rather data like phone numbers for analyzing communication patterns.
As with the wiretapping program revealed by the Times, the NSA data collection occurs without warrants, according to USA Today. Unlike the wiretapping program, the NSA data collection was not limited to international communications.

2006

Court authorizes collection of call data

The mass data collection reported by the Guardian this week apparently was first authorized by the FISA court in 2006, though exactly when is not clear. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said Thursday, “As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been in place for the past seven years.” Similarly, the Washington Post quoted an anonymous “expert in this aspect of the law” who said the document published by the Guardian appears to be a “routine renewal” of an order first issued in 2006.
It’s not clear whether these orders represent court approval of the previously warrantless data collection that USA Today described.
Jan. 2007

Bush admin says surveillance now operating with court approval


Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announces that the FISA court has allowed the government to target international communications that start or end in the U.S., as long as one person is “a member or agent of al Qaeda or an associated terrorist organization.” Gonzalez says the government is ending the “terrorist surveillance program,” and bringing such cases under FISA approval.

Aug. 2007

Congress expands surveillance powers

The FISA court reportedly changes its stance and puts more limits on the Bush administration’s surveillance (the details of the court’s move are still not known.) In response, Congress quickly passes, and President Bush signs, a stopgap law, the Protect America Act.
In many cases, the government can now get blanket surveillance warrants without naming specific individuals as targets. To do that, the government needs to show that they’re not intentionally targeting people in the U.S., even if domestic communications are swept up in the process.

Sept. 2007

Prism begins



The FBI and the NSA get access to user data from Microsoft under a top-secret program known as Prism, according to an NSA PowerPoint briefing published by the Washington Post and the Guardian this week. In subsequent years, the government reportedly gets data from eight other companies including Apple and Google. “The extent and nature of the data collected from each company varies,” according to the Guardian.

July 2008

Congress renews broader surveillance powers

Congress follows up the Protect America Act with another law, the FISA Amendments Act, extending the government’s expanded spying powers for another four years. The law now approaches the kind of warrantless wiretapping that occurred earlier in Bush administration. Senator Obama votes for the act.
The act also gives immunity to telecom companies for their participation in warrantless wiretapping.

April 2009

NSA ‘overcollects

The New York Times reports that for several months, the NSA had gotten ahold of domestic communications it wasn’t supposed to. The Times says it was likely the result of “technical problems in the NSA’s ability” to distinguish between domestic and overseas communications. The Justice Department says the problems have been resolved.

Feb. 2010

Controversial Patriot Act provision extended

President Obama
President Obama signs a temporary one-year extension of elements of the Patriot Act that were set to expire -- including Section 215, which grants the government broad powers to seize records.

May 2011

Patriot Act renewed, again

The House and Senate pass legislation to extend the overall Patriot Act. President Obama, who is in Europe as the law is set to expire, directs the bill to be signed with an “autopen” machine in his stead. It’s the first time in history a U.S. president has done so.

March 2012

Senators warn cryptically of overreach


U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
In a letter to the attorney general, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mark Udall, D-Colo., write, “We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details” of how the government has interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Because the program is classified, the senators offer no further details.

July 2012

Court finds unconstitutional surveillance

According to a declassified statement by Wyden, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held on at least one occasion that information collection carried out by the government was unconstitutional. But the details of that episode, including when it happened, have never been revealed.

Dec. 2012

Broad powers again extended


President Obama
Congress extends the FISA Amendments Act another five years, and Obama signs it into law. Sens. Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both Oregon Democrats, offer amendments requiring more disclosure about the law’s impact. The proposals fail.

April 2013

Verizon order issued

As the Guardian revealed this week, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Roger Vinson issues a secret court order directing Verizon Business Network Services to turn over “metadata” -- including the time, duration and location of phone calls, though not what was said on the calls -- to the NSA for all calls over the next three months. Verizon is ordered to deliver the records “on an ongoing daily basis.” The Wall Street Journal reports this week that AT&T and Sprint have similar arrangements.
The Verizon order cites Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the FBI to request a court order that requires a business to turn over “any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items)” relevant to an international spying or terrorism investigation. In 2012, the government asked for 212 such orders, and the court approved them all.

June 2013

Congress and White House respond


Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
Following the publication of the Guardian’s story about the Verizon order, Sens. Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the chair and vice of the Senate intelligence committee, hold a news conference to dismiss criticism of the order. “This is nothing particularly new,” Chambliss says. “This has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the FISA authority, and every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledges the collection of phone metadata but says the information acquired is “subject to strict restrictions on handling” and that “only a very small fraction of the records are ever reviewed.” Clapper also issues a statement saying that the collection under the Prism program was justified under the FISA Amendments of 2008, and that it is not “intentionally targeting” any American or person in the U.S.

Statements from the tech companies reportedly taking part in the Prism program variously disavow knowledge of the program and merely state in broad terms they follow the law.
For more on surveillance, check out our roundup of investigative reporting on the issue and our rundown of how the government can get your digital data without a warrant.

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