Monday, June 17, 2013

Yes, Actually, the NSA Says They Can Eavesdrop on Phone Calls Without Warrants (UPDATED)

Yes, Actually, the NSA Says They Can Eavesdrop on Phone Calls Without Warrants (UPDATED):
Next we'll find out Siri is actually an NSA intern with a voice modulatorI’ve run out of interesting
ways of combining humor, horror and outrage to introduce the latest
National Security Agency revelations. Here you go. Read what Declan
McCullagh at CNet
reports
:
The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new
classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to
listen to domestic phone calls.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week
that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told
that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based
on an analyst deciding that."
If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision
is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required,
Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," said Nadler, an
attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary
committee.
Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the
NSA's formidable eavesdropping apparatus works
domestically it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly
interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of
low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.
I'm guessing we can look forward to the "We would never use this
power irresponsibly" arguments.
UPDATE: Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute worries that the
statements from the briefing could be the subject of
misinterpretation:
One possibility is just that Rep. Nadler is talking about
analysts having discretion to get
the subscriber information on a
suspicious number and blurring that with content. But those are two
pretty different things, and it seems unlikely he’d make that
error. So let’s assume for a moment that’s not it.
What seems more likely is that Nadler is saying analysts sifting
through metadata have the discretion to determine (on the basis of
what they’re seeing in the metadata) that a particular phone number
or e-mail account satisfies the conditions of one of the broad
authorizations for electronic surveillance under §702 of the FISA
Amendments Act. Those authorizations allow the targeting of whole
groups or “categories of intelligence targets,” as
the administration puts it.  Once the FISA Court approves
targeting procedures, they have no further role in deciding which
specific accounts can be spied on. This is, as those of us who
wrote about the FAA during its recent reauthorization observed,
kind of a problem.
Read his comments
here
.
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