Rep. Justin Amash cosponsored an amendment that would have defunded the National Security Agency’s unwarranted bulk collection of Americans’ phone data. The measure failed narrowly, but has re-energized the legislative struggle for civil liberties. Amash believes that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, should be prosecuted for lying to Congress. He also says he doesn’t appreciate the “condescending” tone of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with respect to the debate over national security.
Glenn Beck Justin Amash Interview On Nsa Surveillance
Congress’s Abdication on NSA Oversight (U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI))
Justin Amash: President Obama Was ‘Highly Misleading’ In Claiming There’s No Domestic Spying Program
House committee passes NSA reform bill
The House Judiciary Committee passed the National Security Agency reforming “USA Freedom Act” 31-0 Wednesday. The first major piece of legislation seeking to curb the NSA’s collection of electronic information, the bill which has undergone major changes will now proceed to the full House of Representatives. It will be competing with another reform bill that is expected to be approved by the House Intelligence Committee Thursday. RT’s Sam Sacks breaks down the bill and the chances for instituting real reform.
“USA Freedom Act” Bill To Put NSA “Out Of Business”
Fox News Reporting The NSA’s Secret War Who’ The Enemy? 1 of 6
Fox News Reporting The NSA’s Secret War Who’ The Enemy Controversy Not The First Time 2 of
Fox News Reporting The NSA’s Secret War Who’ The Enemy? Controversy? 9 11 3 of 6
Fox News Reporting – The NSA’s Secret War Who’ The Enemy? – Phone Records – 4 of 6
Fox News Reporting – The NSA’s Secret War Who’ The Enemy? – Edward Snowden & Security – 5 of 6
Fox News Reporting – The NSA’s Secret War Who’ The Enemy? – Day Of Reckoning At Hand? – 6 of 6
C-SPAN Callers On The Future Of The National Security Agency (NSA)
James Bamford Says NSA “Exploiting” U.S. Citizens With Info About Their Online Porno Viewing Habits
Yesterday, C4L sent a letter to members of the House Judiciary Committee strongly opposing the Manager’s Amendment to H.R. 3361, the USA FREEDOM Act.
The original version of the act was sold to Americans as a way to rein in the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs, and it would have been a first step towards real reform of the surveillance state since 9/11.
But, that’s seldom the way Congress works. In an effort to “pass something this year,” the Judiciary Committee watered down the legislation and it passed out of the committee unanimously.
What’s more likely, that Rogers and Ruppersberger had a change of heart on the NSA? Or that Judiciary watered down the USA FREEDOM Act enough to the point that its “reform” is devoid of any substantive changes?
The bill is now earning plaudits from the same guys who said the original version would “make America less safe,” and from the administration that never wanted you to know they were spying on you in the first place.
Read Campaign for Liberty’s letter to the Judiciary Committee below:
Six months after it was written to restrain the National Security Agency’s sweeping domestic surveillance, a privacy bill cleared a major legislative obstacle on Wednesday, even as its advocates worried that the compromises made to advance the bill have weakened its constraints on mass data collection.
The USA Freedom Act, designed to prevent the US government from collecting US phone data in bulk, passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 32 to zero bi-partisan vote, making it the first surveillance reform bill to proceed out of committee and to the House floor.
But an internal committee breakthrough on Monday that won the support of chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, significantly recast the bill, softening its prohibitions on aspects of bulk collection and requiring transparency around it.
The bill’s architect, Republican James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, who also wrote the 2001 Patriot Act, said the bill “makes it crystal clear that Congress does not support bulk collection.”
While changes to the bill now permit the government to gather call records up to two degrees of separation away from a specific target – potentially millions of records – Sensenbrenner urged his colleagues “not to make the perfect the enemy of the good,” expressing confidence that the revamped USA Freedom Act was on “the fast track to passage.”
Supporters in and outside of Congress concede the latest compromises have left the USA Freedom Act less protective of civil liberties than it was when introduced in October. Its distinctions from a rival bill written by the leaders of the House intelligence committee, the NSA’s strongest Capitol Hill advocates, are somewhat blurred, prompting civil libertarians to become less enthusiastic of a measure they have championed as a fix to the broad NSA powers exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Representative John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and longtime USA Freedom Act supporter, said that the new version of the bill was a “less than perfect compromise” that still makes “important, vital, substantive changes” to US surveillance.
The revised USA Freedom Act, “while still better than any other proposal on the board, is a setback from the original,” said Amie Stepanovich of Access, a human rights and digital rights advocacy group.
While the USA Freedom Act has nearly 150 House co-sponsors, and a stalled Senate companion commands 20 votes in the upper chamber, it was clear on Wednesday that the House intelligence committee will continue attempts to outmaneuvre its rival.
The chairman of the intelligence committee, until now a fervent critic of the USA Freedom Act, is now praising a bill he has long criticized, and which several congressional sources said he attempted to influence ahead of Wednesday’s vote.
Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who is retiring this year, called the changes to the USA Freedom Act a “huge improvement,” adding in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine that the bill’s architects have “come a lot closer [and] now we’re just trying to work out the wording.”
Rogers is scheduled to mark up his alternative bill, the Fisa Transparency and Modernization Act, on Thursday, a decision USA Freedom Act supporters view as a desperation move. But on Wednesday, Rogers’ committee announced it will also mark up the USA Freedom Act on Thursday, prompting Capitol Hill speculation that Rogers will attempt to merge his bill with the Freedom Act rather than attempt to rally more votes.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio had earlier thrown his support behind Rogers’ bill. But now Boehner is said to be monitoring the committe process and keeping his options open. Congressional sources expected Boehner to schedule a vote on a surveillance proposal – of whatever form – as early as the week of 19 May, so the issue does not derail the annual defense budget authorization, though nothing is scheduled yet.
Both bills as originally crafted prevent the NSA from collecting US phone data in bulk, as it has done in secret since 2001, a position that President Barack Obama now embraces. The major difference between the two bills remains the role of judges in authorizing data collection. The Rogers bill permits the government to collect phone and email data absent a judges’ prior order, which the revised USA Freedom Act requires in all but emergency cases.
Additionally, the revised USA Freedom Act permits the government to get phone data two “hops,” or degrees of separation, from the target of the order, which can mean millions of call records reaped from a single court order. The legal standard for that order, for counterterrorism purposes, will be “reasonable articulable suspicion” of connection to an agent of a foreign power, the NSA’s desired framework.
Significantly, the new version of the USA Freedom Act all but stripped out a provision preventing the NSA from combing through its foreign communications dragnets for Americans’ information, something Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon dubbed the “backdoor search provision,” an absence that has deeply upset supporters. Those dragnets exist pursuant to a major 2008 piece of legislation, known as Section 702 of the Fisa Amendments Act.
Congressional sources pointed to new language tightening up prohibitions on the NSA intentionally targeting Americans’ communications at the outset as a palliative. But they conceded the absence of the backdoor search ban was a major change – one they said the NSA’s advocates fought hard for, an indication of how central the NSA considers a power it has rarely forthrightly acknowledged using. They indicated that USA Freedom Act supporters lacked the votes within the committee to pass the bill that retained the backdoor search prohibition.
An attempt by Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, to restore the backdoor search provision failed Wednesday. Goodlatte said restoring it would “disrupt this bipartisan agreement.”
Kevin Bankston of the Open Technology Institute said he was “incredibly disappointed” at the new USA Freedom Act’s effective blessing of backdoor searches.
“Especially when we’re expecting the government’s own surveillance watchdog, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, to issue a report on just that issue within a month or so, closing the door to reform on Section 702 of the Fisa Amendments Act would be premature,” Bankston said in a statement.
But the Judiciary Committee restored a provision initially struck from the original USA Freedom Act permitting increased transparency for companies receiving surveillance orders for their customers’ data, the absence of which had alarmed supporters.
The language, added back to the bill Wednesday by Representative Suzan Delbene of Washington, had been cut in order to codify a January deal the Justice Department reached with phone and Internet companies allowing them to list received orders only in bands of 1,000 and with a time lag. Congressional sources said companies lobbied hard to restore transparency language.
The Obama administration has withheld endorsement of either bill in public, confusing supporters. But in recent weeks, its guidance to Capitol Hill on surveillance reform included a requirement for up-front judicial authorization for data requests, which only the USA Freedom Act possesses.
“At this stage, I think I’d just say we will be watching closely as these bills go through the process,” said Caitlin Hayden, a White House spokeswoman said shortly before the vote.
Hours after the vote, Hayden issued a statement welcoming the USA Freedom Act as “a very good first step”:
“In March the president laid out his proposal to reform Section 215, and called upon Congress to act quickly to pass implementing legislation. We applaud the House Judiciary Committee for approaching this issue on a bipartisan basis. The Judiciary Committee passed bill is a very good first step in that important effort, and we look forward to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence action on it tomorrow,” Hayden said.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act is the provision cited by the NSA and blessed by the secret Fisa Court for bulk data collection.
Some legislators, distressed by the changes to the USA Freedom Act, are considering a different option for surveillance reform.
As amended, the USA Freedom Act would push back the expiration of Section 215 to the end of 2017, when Section 702 is set to expire. The current expiration is 1 June of next year. Some legislators are already whispering that allowing Section 215 to expire wholesale in 2015 is a preferable reform.
But Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, a Democrat, said the USA Freedom Act was “the first, best and perhaps only chance in a decade” to constrain widespread surveillance.
“This is our chance. We have to seize it,” Nadler said on Wednesday.
Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who sponsored the USA Freedom Act in the Senate, hailed the committee vote, but said he was concerned that the text does not reform the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s national-security letters and makes insufficient changes on transparency and to the Fisa Court.
“I will continue to push for those reforms when the Senate Judiciary Committee considers the USA Freedom Act this summer,” Leahy said in a statement.
The USA Freedom Act, formally titled the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-Collection and Online Monitoring Act, is a bill that was introduced in both houses of the U.S. Congress on October 29, 2013.
The USA Freedom Act would end the bulk collection of Americans’ metadata, end the secret laws created by the FISA court, and introduce a “Special Advocate” to represent public and privacy matters. Other proposed changes include limits to programs like PRISM, which “incidentally” retains Americans’ Internet data, and greater transparency by allowing companies such as Google and Facebook to disclose information about government demands for information.
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, who introduced the bill, stated that its purpose was:
To rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.
According to the bill’s sponsors, their legislation would amend Section 215 of the Patriot Act to ensure that any phone records obtained by the government were essential in an investigation that involved terrorism or espionage, thereby ending bulk collection, while preserving “the intelligence community’s ability to gather information in a more focused way.” A May 2014 amended version of the bill would also extend thecontroversial USA PATRIOT Act through the end of 2017. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has criticized the Patriot Act as unconstitutional, especially when “the private communications of law-abiding American citizens might be intercepted incidentally”.
Many members of Congress believed that in the wake of the Snowden disclosures, restoration of public trust would require legislative changes. More than 20 bills have been written since the disclosures began with the goal of reining in government surveillance powers.
Sensenbrenner, who introduced the USA PATRIOT Act (H.R. 3162) in 2001 following the September 11 terrorist attacks to give more power to US intelligence agencies, and who has described himself as “author of the Patriot Act”, declared that it was time to put the NSA’s “metadata program out of business”. With its bulk collection of Americans’ phone data, Sensenbrenner asserted that the intelligence community “misused those powers”, had gone “far beyond” the original intent of the legislation, and had “overstepped its authority”.
An opinion piece by Leahy and Sensenbrenner, published in Politico, described the impetus for proposed changes, saying:
The intelligence community has failed to justify its expansive use of [the FISA and Patriot Act] laws. It is simply not accurate to say that the bulk collection of phone records has prevented dozens of terrorist plots. The most senior NSA officials have acknowledged as much in congressional testimony. We also know that the FISA court has admonished the government for making a series of substantial misrepresentations to the court regarding these programs. As a result, the intelligence community now faces a trust deficit with the American public that compromises its ability to do its job. It is not enough to just make minor tweaks around the edges. It is time for real, substantive reform.
Markup in House Judiciary Committee
In May 2014, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee posted a “Manager’s Amendment” on its website. Title VII of the Amendment read “Section 102(b)(1) of the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (50 U.S.C. 1805 note) is amended by striking “June 1, 2015″ and inserting “December 31, 2017″, extending the controversial USA PATRIOT Act through the end of 2017. The Electronic Privacy Information Center(EPIC) has criticized the Patriot Act as unconstitutional, especially when “the private communications of law-abiding American citizens might be intercepted incidentally”. James Dempsey, of the CDT, believes that the Patriot Act unnecessarily overlooks the importance of notice under the Fourth Amendment and under a Title III wiretap, while the American Library Association became so concerned that they formed a resolution condemning the USA PATRIOT Act, and which urged members to defend free speech and protect patrons’ privacy against the Act.
The Guardian wrote “civil libertarians on the Judiciary Committee had to compromise in order to gain support for the act. Significantly, the government will still be able to collect phone data on Americans, pending a judge’s individualized order based on ‘reasonable articulable suspicion‘ – a standard preferred by the NSA – of wrongdoing, and can collect call records two degrees or ‘hops’ of separation from the individual suspected”. Kara Brandeisky of ProPublica said “some worry that the bill does not unequivocally ban bulk collection of American records. Again, a lot depends on how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court interprets the statute”.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) stated it remained “concerned that this bill omits important transparency provisions found in the USA FREEDOM Act, which are necessary to shed light on surveillance abuses”. In addition, the EFF said it believed “this bill should do more to address mass surveillance under Section 702 of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act, a section of law used to collect the communications of users worldwide”. The Open Technology Institute commented “several other key reforms—such as provisions allowing Internet and phone companies to publish more information about the demands they receive, which OTI and a coalition of companies and organizations have been pressing for since last summer—have been removed, while the bill also provides for a new type of court order that the President has requested, allowing for continuous collection by the government of specified telephone records.”
Despite the criticism from civil liberties groups, Mike Rogers, a defender of the NSA‘s surveillance practices and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, praised the amendments. Rogers, who had his own bill which would codify the NSA’s surveillance practices in to law, called the proposed amendments a “huge improvement”. Foreign Policy wrote “any compromise to the Judiciary bill risks an insurrection from civil libertarians in Congress. Michigan Republican Justin Amash led such a revolt last year when he offered an NSA amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would have stripped funding for the NSA’s collection program.” “Just a weakened bill or worse than status quo? I’ll find out,” Representative Amash said.
The Act has bipartisan support, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. As of May 8, 2014, it had 150 co-sponsors in the House and 21 in the Senate. Viewed as one of the most comprehensive of the similar bills introduced since the NSA leaks, the USA Freedom Act has support or qualified support from a diverse range of groups such as the ACLU, Mozilla, and the NRA.
Representative Justin Amash, author of the narrowly-defeated Amash Amendment, a proposal that would have de-funded the NSA, backed the legislation. “It’s getting out of control” he commented, “[Courts are issuing] general warrants without specific cause…and you have one agency that’s essentially having superpowers to pass information onto others”.
According to Deputy Attorney General James Cole, even if the Freedom Act becomes law, the NSA could continue its bulk collection of American’s phone records. He explained that “it’s going to depend on how the [FISA] court interprets any number of the provisions” contained within the legislation.Jennifer Granick, Director of Civil Liberties at Stanford Law School, stated:
Opponents of global surveillance have called for the bill to be strengthened. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a statement saying “we consider this bill to be a floor, not a ceiling”. The ACLU wrote that “although the USA Freedom Act does not fix every problem with the government’s surveillance authorities and programs, it is an important first step and it deserves broad support.”
International human rights groups remain somewhat skeptical of specific provisions of the bill. For example, Human Rights Watch expressed its concern that the “bill would do little to increase protections for the right to privacy for people outside the United States, a key problem that plagues U.S. surveillance activities. Nor would the bill address mass surveillance or bulk collection practices that may be occurring under other laws or regulations, such as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act or Executive Order 12333. These practices affect many more people and include the collection of the actual content of internet communications and phone calls, not just metadata”. Zeke Johnson, Director of Amnesty International‘s Security and Human Rights Program, agreed that “any proposal that fails to ban mass surveillance, end blanket secrecy, or stop discrimination against people outside the U.S. will be a false fix”.
As amended, the USA Freedom Act would push back the expiration of Section 215 to the end of 2017, when Section 702 is set to expire. The current expiration is 1 June of next year. Some legislators are already whispering that allowing Section 215 to expire wholesale in 2015 is a preferable reform.
The program’s existence was publicly revealed in July 2013 by Edward Snowden in The Sydney Morning Herald and O Globo newspapers, though the codename is mentioned in earlier articles, and like many other codenames can also be seen in job postings, and in the online resumes of employees.
XKeyscore is a complicated system and various authors have different interpretations about its actual capabilities. Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald explained XKeyscore as being a system which enables almost unlimited surveillance of anyone anywhere in the world, while NSA said that usage of the system is limited and restricted.
According to The Washington Post and national security reporter Marc Ambinder, XKeyscore is an NSA data-retrieval system which consists of a series of user interfaces, backend databases, servers and software that selects certain types of data and metadata that the NSA has already collected using other methods.
According to Snowden and Greenwald
On January 26, 2014, the German broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk asked Edward Snowden in its TV interview: “What could you do if you would use XKeyscore?” and he answered:
“You could read anyone’s email in the world, anybody you’ve got an email address for. Any website: You can watch traffic to and from it. Any computer that an individual sits at: You can watch it. Any laptop that you’re tracking: you can follow it as it moves from place to place throughout the world. It’s a one-stop-shop for access to the NSA’s information.”
“…You can tag individuals… Let’s say you work at a major German corporation and I want access to that network, I can track your username on a website on a form somewhere, I can track your real name, I can track associations with your friends and I can build what’s called a fingerprint, which is network activity unique to you, which means anywhere you go in the world, anywhere you try to sort of hide your online presence, your identity.”
According to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, low-level NSA analysts can via systems like XKeyscore “listen to whatever emails they want, whatever telephone calls, browsing histories, Microsoft Word documents. And it’s all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst.”
He added that the NSA’s databank of collected communications allows its analysts to listen “to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future”.
In an official statement from July 30, 2013, the NSA said there is no “unchecked analyst access to NSA collection data. Access to XKeyscore, as well as all of NSA’s analytic tools, is limited to only those personnel who require access for their assigned tasks.” The NSA also states that there are “stringent oversight and compliance mechanisms built in at several levels. One feature is the system’s ability to limit what an analyst can do with a tool, based on the source of the collection and each analyst’s defined responsibilities.”
The agency defended the program, stressing that it was only used to legally obtain information about “legitimate foreign intelligence targets in response to requirements that our leaders need for information necessary to protect our nation and its interests. [...] XKeyscore is used as a part of NSA’s lawful foreign signals intelligence collection system. [...] These types of programs allow us to collect the information that enables us to perform our missions successfully — to defend the nation and to protect U.S. and allied troops abroad.”
Slide from a 2008 NSA presentation about XKeyscore, showing a worldmap with the locations of XKeyscore servers
Slide from a 2008 NSA presentation about XKeyscore, showing the query hierarchy
An NSA presentation about XKeyscore from 2008 says that it’s a “DNI Exploitation System/Analytic Framework”. DNI stands for Digital Network Intelligence, which means intelligence derived from internet traffic. In an interview with the German Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Edward Snowden said about XKeyscore: “It’s a front end search engine”.
XKeyscore consists of over 700 servers at approximately 150 sites where the NSA collects data, like “US and allied military and other facilities as well as US embassies and consulates” in many countries around the world. Among the facilities involved in the program are four bases in Australia and one in New Zealand.
According to an NSA presentation from 2008, these XKeyscore servers are fed with data from the following collection systems:
F6 (Special Collection Service) – joint operation of the CIA and NSA that carries out clandestine operations including espionage on foreign diplomats and leaders
FORNSAT – which stands for “foreign satellite collection”, and refers to intercepts from satellites
Third party – foreign partners of the NSA such as the (signals) intelligence agencies of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, etc.
From these sources, XKeyscore stores “full-take data”, which are indexed by plug-ins that extract certain types of metadata (like phone numbers, e-mail addresses, log-ins, and user activity) and index them in metadata tables, which can be queried by analysts. XKeyscore has been integrated with MARINA, which is NSA’s database for internet metadata.
However, the system continuously gets so much Internet data that it can be stored only for short periods of time. Content data remain on the system for only three to five days, while metadata is stored for up to 30 days. A detailed commentary on an NSA presentation published in The Guardian in July 2013 cites a document published in 2008 declaring that “At some sites, the amount of data we receive per day (20+ terabytes) can only be stored for as little as 24 hours.”
Slide from a 2008 NSA presentation about XKeyscore, showing the differences between the various NSA database systems
For analysts, XKeyscore provides a “series of viewers for common data types”, which allows them to query terabytes of raw data gathered at the aforementioned collection sites. This enables them to find targets that cannot be found by searching only the metadata, and also to do this against data sets that otherwise would have been dropped by the front-end data processing systems. According to a slide from an XKeyscore presentation, NSA collection sites select and forward less than 5% of the internet traffic to the PINWALE database for internet content.
Because XKeyscore holds raw and unselected communications traffic, analysts can not only perform queries using “strong selectors” like e-mail addresses, but also using “soft selectors”, like keywords, against the body texts of e-mail and chat messages and digital documents and spreadsheets in English, Arabic and Chinese.
This is useful because “a large amount of time spent on the web is performing actions that are anonymous” and therefore those activities can’t be found by just looking for e-mail addresses of a target. When content has been found, the analyst might be able to find new intelligence or a strong selector, which can then be used for starting a traditional search.
Besides using soft selectors, analysts can also use the following other XKeyscore capabilities:
Look for the usage of Google Maps and terms entered into a search engine by known targets looking for suspicious things or places.
Look for “anomalies” without any specific person attached, like detecting the nationality of foreigners by analyzing the language used within intercepted emails. An example would be a German speaker in Pakistan. The Brazilian paper O Globo claims that this has been applied to Latin America and specifically to Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela.
Detect people who use encryption by do searches like “all PGP usage in Iran”. The caveat given is that very broad queries can result in too much data to transmit back to the analyst.
Track the source and authorship of a document that has passed through many hands.
Most of these things cannot be detected by other NSA tools because they operate with strong selectors (like e-mail and IP addresses and phone numbers) and the raw data volumes are too high to forward them to other NSA databases.
In 2008, it was planned to add a number of new capabilities in the future, like:
The NSA slides published in The Guardian during 2013 claimed that XKeyscore had played a role in capturing 300 terrorists by 2008. This claim could not be substantiated as the redacted documents do not cite instances of terrorist interventions.
A 2011 report from the NSA unit in Griesheim (Germany) says that XKeyscore made it easier and more efficient to target surveillance. Previously, analysis often accessed data they were not interested in. XKeyscore allowed them to focus on the intended topics, while ignoring unrelated data. XKeyscore also proved to be an outstanding tool for tracking active groups associated with the Anonymous movement in Germany, because it allows for searching on patterns, rather than particular individuals. An analyst is able to determine when targets research new topics, or develop new behaviors.
To create additional motivation, the NSA incorporated various features from computer games into the program. For instance, analysts who were especially good at using XKeyscore could acquire “skilz” points and “unlock achievements.” The training units in Griesheim were apparently successful and analysts there had achieved the “highest average of skilz points” compared with all other NSA departments participating in the training program.
Usage by foreign partners of the NSA
Excerpt of an NSA document leaked by Edward Snowden that reveals the BND‘s usage of the NSA’s XKeyscore to wiretap a German domestic target
According to documents Der Spiegel acquired from Snowden, the German intelligence agencies BND (foreign intelligence) and BfV (domestic intelligence) were also allowed to use the XKeyscore system. In those documents the BND agency was described as the NSA’s most prolific partner in information gathering. This led to political confrontations, after which the directors of the German intelligence agencies briefed members of the German parliamentary intelligence oversight committee on July 25, 2013. They declared that XKeyscore has been used by the BND since 2007 and that the BfV uses a test version since 2012. The directors also explained that this program is not for collecting data, but only for analyzing them.
As part of the UKUSA Agreement, a secret treaty was signed in 1954 by Sweden with the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for the purpose of intelligence collaboration and data sharing. According to documents leaked by Snowden, the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) has been granted access to XKeyscore.
Story 1: NSA Metadata To Be Held By Telephone Companies — Great Distraction — Still Collecting and Intercepting All Americans Telephone Calls and All Information Transmitted Over The Internet and Telephone Exchanges — Stop Deceiving The American People Mr. President — Videos
Obama: NSA Proposal Satisfies Public Concerns
Obama announces overhaul of NSA metadata collection
NSA – Changes To Metadata Program – Special Report All Star
President Obama Names Michael Rogers As New Head Of The NSA
Background Articles and Videos
Through a PRISM, Darkly – Everything we know about NSA spying [30c3]
Published on Dec 30, 2013
Through a PRISM, Darkly
Everything we know about NSA spying
From Stellar Wind to PRISM, Boundless Informant to EvilOlive, the NSA spying programs are shrouded in secrecy and rubber-stamped by secret opinions from a court that meets in a faraday cage. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kurt Opsahl explains the known facts about how the programs operate and the laws and regulations the U.S. government asserts allows the NSA to spy on you.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil society organization, has been litigating against the NSA spying program for the better part of a decade. EFF has collected and reviewed dozens of documents, from the original NY Times stories in 2005 and the first AT&T whistleblower in 2006, through the latest documents released in the Guardian or obtained through EFF’s Freedom of Information (government transparency) litigation. EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl’s lecture will describe how the NSA spying program works, the underlying technologies, the targeting procedures (how they decide who to focus on), the minimization procedures (how they decide which information to discard), and help you makes sense of the many code names and acronyms in the news. He will also discuss the legal and policy ramifications that have become part of the public debate following the recent disclosures, and what you can do about it. After summarizing the programs, technologies, and legal/policy framework in the lecture, the audience can ask questions.
Speaker: Kurt Opsahl
Event: 30th Chaos Communication Congress [30c3] by the Chaos Computer Club [CCC]
Location: Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH); Am Dammtor; Marseiller Straße; 20355 Hamburg; Germany
Glenn Becks “SURVEILLANCE STATE”
Inside the NSA
Ed Snowden, NSA, and Fairy Tales
AT&T Spying On Internet Traffic
For years the National Securities Agency, has been spying on each & every keystroke. The national headquarters of AT&T is in Missouri, where ex-employees describe a secret room. The program is called “Splitter Cut-In & Test Procedure.”
NSA Whistle-Blower Tells All – Op-Docs: The Program
The filmmaker Laura Poitras profiles William Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency who helped design a top-secret program he says is broadly collecting Americans’ personal data.
NSA Whistleblower: Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post
He told you so: Bill Binney talks NSA leaks
William Benny – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)
‘After 9/11 NSA had secret deal with White House’
The story of Whistleblower Thomas Drake
Whistleblowers, Part Two: Thomas Drake
NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake speaks at National Press Club – March 15, 2013
Meet Edward Snowden: NSA PRISM Whistleblower
The Truth About Edward Snowden
N.S.A. Spying: Why Does It Matter?
Inside The NSA~Americas Cyber Secrets
NSA Whistleblower Exposes Obama’s Dragnet
AT&T whistleblower against immunity for Bush spy program-1/2
AT&T Whistleblower Urges Against Immunity for Telecoms in Bush Spy Program
The Senate is expected to vote on a controversial measure to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act tomorrow. The legislation would rewrite the nation’s surveillance laws and authorize the National Security Agency’s secret program of warrantless wiretapping. We speak with Mark Klein, a technician with AT&T for over twenty-two years. In 2006 Klein leaked internal AT&T documents that revealed the company had set up a secret room in its San Francisco office to give the National Security Agency access to its fiber optic internet cables.
AT&T whistleblower against immunity for Bush spy program-2/2
Enemy Of The State 1998 (1080p) (Full movie)
Background Articles and Videos
Stellar Wind was the open secret code name for four surveillance programs by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) during the presidency of George W. Bush and revealed by Thomas Tamm to The New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau. The operation was approved by President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001. Stellar Wind was succeeded during the presidency of Barack Obama by four major lines of intelligence collection in the territorial United States, together capable of spanning the full range of modern telecommunications.
The program’s activities involved data mining of a large database of the communications of American citizens, including e-mail communications, phone conversations, financial transactions, and Internet activity. William Binney, a retired Technical Leader with the NSA, discussed some of the architectural and operational elements of the program at the 2012 Chaos Communication Congress.
There were internal disputes within the Justice Department about the legality of the program, because data are collected for large numbers of people, not just the subjects of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.
During the Bush Administration, the Stellar Wind cases were referred to by FBI agents as “pizza cases” because many seemingly suspicious cases turned out to be food takeout orders. According to Mueller, approximately 99 percent of the cases led nowhere, but “it’s that other 1% that we’ve got to be concerned about”. One of the known uses of these data were the creation of suspicious activity reports, or “SARS”, about people suspected of terrorist activities. It was one of these reports that revealed former New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s use of prostitutes, even though he was not suspected of terrorist activities.
In March 2012 Wired magazine published “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)” talking about a vast new NSA facility in Utah and says “For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail,” naming the official William Binney, a former NSA code breaker. Binney went on to say that the NSA had highly secured rooms that tap into major switches, and satellite communications at both AT&T and Verizon. The article suggested that the otherwise dispatched Stellar Wind is actually an active program.
PRISM is a clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007.[Notes 1]PRISM is a government codename for a data collection effort known officially as US-984XN. It is operated under the supervision of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The existence of the program was leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published by The Guardian and The Washington Post on June 6, 2013.
A document included in the leak indicated that the PRISM SIGAD was “the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports.” The President’s Daily Brief, an all-source intelligence product, cited PRISM data as a source in 1,477 items in 2012. The leaked information came to light one day after the revelation that the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had been requiring the telecommunications company Verizon to turn over to the NSA logs tracking all of its customers’ telephone calls on an ongoing daily basis.
According to the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, PRISM cannot be used to intentionally target any Americans or anyone in the United States. Clapper said a special court, Congress, and the executive branch oversee the program and extensive procedures ensure the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of data accidentally collected about Americans is kept to a minimum. Clapper issued a statement and “fact sheet” to correct what he characterized as “significant misimpressions” in articles by The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers.
Slide showing that much of the world’s communications flow through the US
Details of information collected via PRISM
PRISM is a “Special Source Operation” in the tradition of NSA’s intelligence alliances with as many as 100 trusted U.S. companies since the 1970s. A prior program, the Terrorist Surveillance Program, was implemented in the wake of the September 11 attacks under the George W. Bush Administration but was widely criticized and had its legality questioned, because it was conducted without approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). PRISM was authorized by an order of the FISC. Its creation was enabled by the Protect America Act of 2007 under President Bush and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which legally immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with US intelligence collection and was renewed by Congress under President Obama in 2012 for five years until December 2017. According to The Register, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 “specifically authorizes intelligence agencies to monitor the phone, email, and other communications of U.S. citizens for up to a week without obtaining a warrant” when one of the parties is outside the U.S.
PRISM was first publicly revealed on June 6, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Washington Post and The Guardian by American Edward Snowden. The leaked documents included 41 PowerPoint slides, four of which were published in news articles. The documents identified several technology companies as participants in the PRISM program, including (date of joining PRISM in parentheses) Microsoft (2007), Yahoo! (2008), Google (2009), Facebook (2009), Paltalk (2009), YouTube (2010), AOL (2011), Skype (2011), and Apple (2012). The speaker’s notes in the briefing document reviewed by The Washington Post indicated that “98 percent of PRISM production is based on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft.”
The slide presentation stated that much of the world’s electronic communications pass through the United States, because electronic communications data tend to follow the least expensive route rather than the most physically direct route, and the bulk of the world’s internet infrastructure is based in the United States. The presentation noted that these facts provide United States intelligence analysts with opportunities for intercepting the communications of foreign targets as their electronic data pass into or through the United States.
According to The Washington Post, the intelligence analysts search PRISM data using terms intended to identify suspicious communications of targets whom the analysts suspect with at least 51 percent confidence to not be United States citizens, but in the process, communication data of some United States citizens are also collected unintentionally. Training materials for analysts tell them that while they should periodically report such accidental collection of non-foreign United States data, “it’s nothing to worry about.”
Response from companies
The original Washington Post and Guardian articles reporting on PRISM noted that one of the leaked briefing documents said PRISM involves collection of data “directly from the servers” of several major internet services providers.
Initial Public Statements
Corporate executives of several companies identified in the leaked documents told The Guardian that they had no knowledge of the PRISM program in particular and also denied making information available to the government on the scale alleged by news reports. Statements of several of the companies named in the leaked documents were reported by TechCrunch and The Washington Post as follows:
Slide listing companies and the date that PRISM collection began
Microsoft: “We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.”
Yahoo!: “Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.” “Of the hundreds of millions of users we serve, an infinitesimal percentage will ever be the subject of a government data collection directive.”
Facebook: “We do not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers. When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law.”
Google: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a backdoor for the government to access private user data.” “[A]ny suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.”
Apple: “We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”
Dropbox: “We’ve seen reports that Dropbox might be asked to participate in a government program called PRISM. We are not part of any such program and remain committed to protecting our users’ privacy.”
In response to the technology companies’ denials of the NSA being able to directly access the companies’ servers, The New York Times reported that sources had stated the NSA was gathering the surveillance data from the companies using other technical means in response to court orders for specific sets of data.The Washington Post suggested, “It is possible that the conflict between the PRISM slides and the company spokesmen is the result of imprecision on the part of the NSA author. In another classified report obtained by The Post, the arrangement is described as allowing ‘collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,’ rather than directly to company servers.” “[I]n context, ‘direct’ is more likely to mean that the NSA is receiving data sent to them deliberately by the tech companies, as opposed to intercepting communications as they’re transmitted to some other destination.
“If these companies received an order under the FISA amendments act, they are forbidden by law from disclosing having received the order and disclosing any information about the order at all,” Mark Rumold, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told ABC News.
Slide showing two different sources of NSA data collection. The first source the fiber optic cables of the internet handled by the Upstream program and the second source the servers of major internet companies handled by PRISM.
On May 28, 2013, Google was ordered by United States District Court Judge Susan Illston to comply with a National Security Letter issued by the FBI to provide user data without a warrant. Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in an interview with VentureBeat said, “I certainly appreciate that Google put out a transparency report, but it appears that the transparency didn’t include this. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were subject to a gag order.”
The New York Times reported on June 7, 2013, that “Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations.” The other companies held discussions with national security personnel on how to make data available more efficiently and securely. In some cases, these companies made modifications to their systems in support of the intelligence collection effort. The dialogues have continued in recent months, as General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has met with executives including those at Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Intel. These details on the discussions provide insight into the disparity between initial descriptions of the government program including a training slide which states “Collection directly from the servers” and the companies’ denials.
While providing data in response to a legitimate FISA request approved by FISC is a legal requirement, modifying systems to make it easier for the government to collect the data is not. This is why Twitter could legally decline to provide an enhanced mechanism for data transmission. Other than Twitter, the companies were effectively asked to construct a locked mailbox and provide the key to the government, people briefed on the negotiations said. Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information. Google does not provide a lockbox system, but instead transmits required data by hand delivery or secure FTP.
Post-PRISM Transparency Reports
In response to the publicity surrounding media reports of data-sharing, several companies requested permission to reveal more public information about the nature and scope of information provided in response to National Security requests.
On June 14, 2013, Facebook reported that the U.S. Government had authorized the communication of “about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range.” In a press release posted to their web site, Facebook reported, “For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000.” Facebook further reported that the requests impacted “between 18,000 and 19,000″ user accounts, a “tiny fraction of one percent” of more than 1.1 billion active user accounts.
Microsoft reported that for the same period, it received “between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts from U.S. governmental entities (including local, state and federal)” which impacted “a tiny fraction of Microsoft’s global customer base”.
Google issued a statement criticizing the requirement that data be reported in aggregated form, stating that lumping national security requests with criminal request data would be “a step backwards” from its previous, more detailed practices on its site transparency report. The company said that it would continue to seek government permission to publish the number and extent of FISA requests.
Response from United States government
Shortly after publication of the reports by The Guardian and The Washington Post, the United States Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, on June 7 released a statement confirming that for nearly six years the government of the United States had been using large internet services companies such as Google and Facebook to collect information on foreigners outside the United States as a defense against national security threats. The statement read in part, “The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies.” He went on to say, “Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.” Clapper concluded his statement by stating “The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.” On March 12, 2013, Clapper had told the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the NSA does “not wittingly” collect any type of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans. In an NBC News interview, Clapper said he answered Senator Wyden’s question in the “least untruthful manner by saying no”.
Clapper also stated that “the NSA collects the phone data in broad swaths, because collecting it (in) a narrow fashion would make it harder to identify terrorism-related communications. The information collected lets the government, over time, make connections about terrorist activities. The program doesn’t let the U.S. listen to people’s calls, but only includes information like call length and telephone numbers dialed.”
On June 8, 2013, Clapper said “the surveillance activities published in The Guardian and The Washington Post are lawful and conducted under authorities widely known and discussed, and fully debated and authorized by Congress.” The fact sheet described PRISM as “an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government’s statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a).”
The National Intelligence fact sheet further stated that “the United States Government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers. All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.” It said that the Attorney General provides FISA Court rulings and semi-annual reports about PRISM activities to Congress, “provid[ing] an unprecedented degree of accountability and transparency.”
The President of the United States, Barack Obama, said on June 7 “What you’ve got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress. Bipartisan majorities have approved them. Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted. There are a whole range of safeguards involved. And federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout.” He also said, “You can’t have 100 percent security and then also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”
In separate statements, senior (not mentioned by name in source) Obama administration officials said that Congress had been briefed 13 times on the programs since 2009.
In contrast to their swift and forceful reactions the previous day to allegations that the government had been conducting surveillance of United States citizens’ telephone records, Congressional leaders initially had little to say about the PRISM program the day after leaked information about the program was published. Several lawmakers declined to discuss PRISM, citing its top-secret classification, and others said that they had not been aware of the program. After statements had been released by the President and the Director of National Intelligence, some lawmakers began to comment:
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
June 9 “We passed the Patriot Act. We passed specific provisions of the act that allowed for this program to take place, to be enacted in operation,”
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee
June 9 “These programs are within the law”, “part of our obligation is keeping Americans safe”, “Human intelligence isn’t going to do it”.
June 9 “Here’s the rub: the instances where this has produced good — has disrupted plots, prevented terrorist attacks, is all classified, that’s what’s so hard about this.”
June 11 “It went fine…we asked him[ Keith Alexander ] to declassify things because it would be helpful (for people and lawmakers to better understand the intelligence programs).” “I’ve just got to see if the information gets declassified. I’m sure people will find it very interesting.”
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), member of Senate Intelligence Committee and past member of Homeland Security Committee
June 11 “I had, along with Joe Lieberman, a monthly threat briefing, but I did not have access to this highly compartmentalized information” and “How can you ask when you don’t know the program exists?”
Representative John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House of Representatives
June 11 “He’s a traitor” (referring to Edward Snowden)
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), principal sponsor of the Patriot Act
June 9, “This is well beyond what the Patriot Act allows.” “President Obama’s claim that ‘this is the most transparent administration in history’ has once again proven false. In fact, it appears that no administration has ever peered more closely or intimately into the lives of innocent Americans.”
Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), a Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
June 9 “One of the things that we’re charged with is keeping America safe and keeping our civil liberties and privacy intact. I think we have done both in this particular case,”
June 9 “Within the last few years this program was used to stop a program, excuse me, to stop a terrorist attack in the United States we know that. It’s, it’s, it’s important, it fills in a little seam that we have and it’s used to make sure that there is not an international nexus to any terrorism event that they may believe is ongoing in the United States. So in that regard it is a very valuable thing,”
Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)
June 9 “I don’t think the American public knows the extent or knew the extent to which they were being surveilled and their data was being collected.” “I think we ought to reopen the Patriot Act and put some limits on the amount of data that the National Security (Agency) is collecting,” “It ought to remain sacred, and there’s got to be a balance here. That is what I’m aiming for. Let’s have the debate, let’s be transparent, let’s open this up”.
Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN)
June 10 “We have no idea when they [ FISA ] meet, we have no idea what their judgments are”,
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
June 6 “When the Senate rushed through a last-minute extension of the FISA Amendments Act late last year, I insisted on a vote on my amendment (SA 3436) to require stronger protections on business records and prohibiting the kind of data-mining this case has revealed. Just last month, I introduced S.1037, the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act,”
June 9 “I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level. I’m going to be asking the Internet providers and all of the phone companies: ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit.”
Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
June 9 “We will be receiving secret briefings and we will be asking, I know I’m going to be asking to get more information. I want to make sure that what they’re doing is harvesting information that is necessary to keep us safe and not simply going into everybody’s private telephone conversations and Facebook and communications. I mean one of the, you know the terrorists win when you debilitate freedom of expression and privacy.”
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) has not acknowledged, denied or confirmed any involvement in the PRISM program at this time. It has not issued any press statement or release relating to the current situation and uncertainty.
Applicable law and practice
On June 8, 2013, the Director of National Intelligence issued a fact sheet stating that PRISM “is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program”, but rather computer software used to facilitate the collection of foreign intelligence information “under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a).” Section 702 provides that “the Attorney General [A.G.] and the Director of National Intelligence [DNI] may authorize jointly, for a period of up to 1 year from the effective date of the authorization, the targeting of persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.” In order to authorize the targeting, the A.G. and DNI need to get an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) pursuant to Section 702 or certify that “intelligence important to the national security of the United States may be lost or not timely acquired and time does not permit the issuance of an order.” When asking for an order, the A.G. and DNI must certify to FISC that “a significant purpose of the acquisition is to obtain foreign intelligence information.” They do not need to specify which facilities or property that the targeting will be directed at.
After getting a FISC order or determining that there are emergency circumstances, the A.G. and DNI can direct an electronic communication service provider to give them access to information or facilities to carry out the targeting and keep the targeting secret. The provider then has the option to: (1) comply with the directive; (2) reject it; or (3) challenge it to FISC.
If the provider complies with the directive, it is released from liability to its users for providing the information and reimbursed for the cost of providing it.
If the provider rejects the directive, the A.G. may request an order from FISC to enforce it. A provider that fails to comply with FISC’s order can be punished with contempt of court.
Finally, a provider can petition FISC to reject the directive. In case FISC denies the petition and orders the provider to comply with the directive, the provider risks contempt of court if it refuses to comply with FISC’s order. The provider can appeal FISC’s denial to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review and then appeal the Court of Review’s decision to the Supreme Court by a writ of certiorari for review under seal.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the FISA Courts had been put in place to oversee intelligence operations in the period after the death of J. Edgar Hoover. Beverly Gage of Slate said, “When they were created, these new mechanisms were supposed to stop the kinds of abuses that men like Hoover had engineered. Instead, it now looks as if they have come to function as rubber stamps for the expansive ambitions of the intelligence community. J. Edgar Hoover no longer rules Washington, but it turns out we didn’t need him anyway.”
Involvement of other countries
The Australian government has said it will investigate the impact of the PRISM program and the use of the Pine Gap surveillance facility on the privacy of Australian citizens.
Canada’s national cryptologic agency, the Communications Security Establishment, said that commenting on PRISM “would undermine CSE’s ability to carry out its mandate”. Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart lamented Canada’s standards when it comes to protecting personal online privacy stating “We have fallen too far behind,” Stoddart wrote in her report. “While other nations’ data protection authorities have the legal power to make binding orders, levy hefty fines and take meaningful action in the event of serious data breaches, we are restricted to a ‘soft’ approach: persuasion, encouragement and, at the most, the potential to publish the names of transgressors in the public interest.” And, “when push comes to shove,” Stoddart wrote, “short of a costly and time-consuming court battle, we have no power to enforce our recommendations.”
Germany did not receive any raw PRISM data, according to a Reuters report.
Israeli newspaper Calcalist discussed the Business Insider article about the possible involvement of technologies from two secretive Israeli companies in the PRISM program – Verint Systems and Narus.
In New Zealand, University of Otago information science Associate Professor Hank Wolfe said that “under what was unofficially known as the Five Eyes Alliance, New Zealand and other governments, including the United States, Australia, Canada, and Britain, dealt with internal spying by saying they didn’t do it. But they have all the partners doing it for them and then they share all the information.”
In the United Kingdom, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has had access to the PRISM program on or before June 2010 and wrote 197 reports with it in 2012 alone. PRISM may have allowed GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material.
The neutrality of this section is disputed. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (June 2013)
The New York Times editorial board charged that the Obama administration “has now lost all credibility on this issue,” and lamented that “for years, members of Congress ignored evidence that domestic intelligence-gathering had grown beyond their control, and, even now, few seem disturbed to learn that every detail about the public’s calling and texting habits now reside in a N.S.A. database.”
Republican and former member of Congress Ron Paul said, “We should be thankful for individuals like Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald who see injustice being carried out by their own government and speak out, despite the risk…. They have done a great service to the American people by exposing the truth about what our government is doing in secret.” Paul denounced the government’s secret surveillance program: “The government does not need to know more about what we are doing…. We need to know more about what the government is doing.” He called Congress “derelict in giving that much power to the government,” and said that had he been elected president, he would have ordered searches only when there was probable cause of a crime having been committed, which he said was not how the PRISM program was being operated.
In response to Obama administration arguments that it could stop terrorism in the cases of Najibullah Zazi and David Headley, Ed Pilkington and Nicholas Watt of The Guardian said in regards to the role of PRISM and Boundless Informant interviews with parties involved in the Zazi scheme and court documents lodged in the United States and the United Kingdom indicated that “conventional” surveillance methods such as “old-fashioned tip-offs” of the British intelligence services initiated the investigation into the Zazi case. An anonymous former CIA agent said that in regards to the Headley case, “That’s nonsense. It played no role at all in the Headley case. That’s not the way it happened at all.” Pilkington and Watt concluded that the data-mining programs “played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots.” Michael Daly of The Daily Beast stated that even though Tamerlan Tsarnaev had visited Inspire and even though Russian intelligence officials alerted U.S. intelligence officials about Tsarnaev, PRISM did not prevent him from carrying out the Boston bombings, and that the initial evidence implicating him came from his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and not from federal intelligence. In addition Daly pointed to the fact that Faisal Shahzad visited Inspire but that federal authorities did not stop his attempted terrorist plot. Daly concluded “The problem is not just what the National Security Agency is gathering at the risk of our privacy but what it is apparently unable to monitor at the risk of our safety.” In addition, political commentator Bill O’Reilly criticized the government, saying that PRISM did not stop the Boston bombings.
In a blog post, David Simon, the creator of The Wire, compared the NSA’s programs, including PRISM, to a 1980s effort by the City of Baltimore to add dialed number recorders to all pay phones to know which individuals were being called by the callers; the city believed that drug traffickers were using pay phones and pagers, and a municipal judge allowed the city to place the recorders. The placement of the dialers formed the basis of the show’s first season. Simon argued that the media attention regarding the NSA programs is a “faux scandal.” George Takei, an actor who had experienced Japanese American internment, said that due to his memories of the internment, he felt concern towards the NSA surveillance programs that had been revealed.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international non-profit digital-rights group based in the U.S., is hosting a tool, by which an American resident can write to their government representatives regarding their opposition to mass spying.
On June 11, 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the NSA citing that PRISM “violates Americans’ constitutional rights of free speech, association, and privacy”.
Reactions of Internet users in China were mixed between viewing a loss of freedom worldwide and seeing state surveillance coming out of secrecy. The story broke just before US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in California. When asked about NSA hacking China, the spokeswoman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China said “China strongly advocates cybersecurity”. The party-owned newspaper Liberation Daily described this surveillance like Nineteen Eighty-Four-style. Hong Kong legislators Gary Fan and Claudia Mo wrote a letter to Obama, stating “the revelations of blanket surveillance of global communications by the world’s leading democracy have damaged the image of the U.S. among freedom-loving peoples around the world.”
Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, called PRISM “a violation of EU laws”.
Protests at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin
The German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Peter Schaar, condemned the program as “monstrous”. He further added that White House claims do “not reassure me at all” and that “given the large number of German users of Google, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft services, I expect the German government […] is committed to clarification and limitation of surveillance.” Steffen Seibert, press secretary of the Chancellor’s office, announced that Angela Merkel will put these issues on the agenda of the talks with Barack Obama during his pending visit in Berlin.
The Italian president of the Guarantor for the protection of personal data, Antonello Soro, said that the surveillance dragnet “would not be legal in Italy” and would be “contrary to the principles of our legislation and would represent a very serious violation”.
William Hague, the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, dismissed accusations that British security agencies had been circumventing British law by using information gathered on British citizens by Prism saying, “Any data obtained by us from the United States involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards.” David Cameron said Britain’s spy agencies that received data collected from PRISM acted within the law: “I’m satisfied that we have intelligence agencies that do a fantastically important job for this country to keep us safe, and they operate within the law.” Malcolm Rifkind, the chairman of parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, said that if the British intelligence agencies were seeking to know the content of emails about people living in the UK, then they actually have to get lawful authority. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office was more cautious, saying it would investigate PRISM alongside other European data agencies: “There are real issues about the extent to which U.S. law agencies can access personal data of UK and other European citizens. Aspects of U.S. law under which companies can be compelled to provide information to U.S. agencies potentially conflict with European data protection law, including the UK’s own Data Protection Act. The ICO has raised this with its European counterparts, and the issue is being considered by the European Commission, who are in discussions with the U.S. Government.”
Ai Weiwei, a Chinese dissident, said “Even though we know governments do all kinds of things I was shocked by the information about the US surveillance operation, Prism. To me, it’s abusively using government powers to interfere in individuals’ privacy. This is an important moment for international society to reconsider and protect individual rights.”
Kim Dotcom, a German-Finnish Internet entrepreneur who owned Megaupload, which was closed by the U.S. federal government, said “We should heed warnings from Snowden because the prospect of an Orwellian society outweighs whatever security benefits we derive from Prism or Five Eyes.” The Hong Kong law firm representing Dotcom expressed a fear that the communication between Dotcom and the firm had been compromised by U.S. intelligence programs.
Russia has offered to consider an asylum request from Edward Snowden.
Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said “We knew about their past efforts to trace our system. We have used our technical resources to foil their efforts and have been able to stop them from succeeding so far.”
A parallel program, code-named BLARNEY, gathers up metadata as it streams past choke points along the backbone of the Internet. BLARNEY’s summary, set down in the slides alongside a cartoon insignia of a shamrock and a leprechaun hat, describes it as “an ongoing collection program that leverages IC [intelligence community] and commercial partnerships to gain access and exploit foreign intelligence obtained from global networks.”
A related program, a big data visualization system based on cloud computing and free and open-source software (FOSS) technology known as “Boundless Informant”, was disclosed in documents leaked to The Guardian and reported on June 8, 2013. A leaked, top secret map allegedly produced by Boundless Informant revealed the extent of NSA surveillance in the U.S.
ThinThread is the name of a project that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) pursued during the 1990s, according to a May 17, 2006 article in The Baltimore Sun. The program involved wiretapping and sophisticated analysis of the resulting data, but according to the article, the program was discontinued three weeks before the September 11, 2001 attacks due to the changes in priorities and the consolidation of U.S. intelligence authority. The “change in priority” consisted of the decision made by the director of NSA General Michael V. Hayden to go with a concept called Trailblazer, despite the fact that ThinThread was a working prototype that protected the privacy of U.S. citizens.
ThinThread was dismissed and replaced by the Trailblazer Project, which lacked the privacy protections. A consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was awarded a $280 million contract to develop Trailblazer in 2002.
Trailblazer was a United States National Security Agency (NSA) program intended to develop a capability to analyze data carried on communications networks like the Internet. It was intended to track entities using communication methods such as cell phones and e-mail. It ran over budget, failed to accomplish critical goals, and was cancelled.
NSA whistleblowers J. Kirk Wiebe, William Binney, Ed Loomis, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staffer Diane Roark complained to the Department of Defense’s Inspector General (IG) about waste, fraud, and abuse in the program, and the fact that a successful operating prototype existed, but was ignored when the Trailblazer program was launched. The complaint was accepted by the IG and an investigation began that lasted until mid-2005 when the final results were issued. The results were largely hidden, as the report given to the public was heavily (90%) redacted, while the original report was heavily classified, thus restricting the ability of most people to see it.
The people who filed the IG complaint were later raided by armed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents. While the Government threatened to prosecute all who signed the IG report, it ultimately chose to pursue an NSA Senior Executive — Thomas Andrews Drake — who helped with the report internally to NSA and who had spoken with a reporter about the project. Drake was later charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. His defenders claimed this was retaliation. The charges against him were later dropped, and he agreed to plead guilty to having committed a misdemeanor under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, something that Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project (which helped represent him) called an “act of civil disobedience”.
Trailblazer was chosen over a similar program named ThinThread, a less costly project which had been designed with built-in privacy protections for United States citizens. Trailblazer was later linked to the NSA electronic surveillance program and the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.
In 2002 a consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was chosen by the NSA to produce a technology demonstration platform in a contract worth $280 million. Project participants included Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, and Booz Allen Hamilton. The project was overseen by NSA Deputy Director William B. Black, Jr., an NSA worker who had gone to SAIC, and then been re-hired back to NSA by NSA director Michael Hayden in 2000. SAIC had also hired a former NSA director to its management; Bobby Inman. SAIC also participated in the concept definition phase of Trailblazer.
Redacted version of the DoD Inspector General audit, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight and others. 
The NSA Inspector General issued a report on Trailblazer that “discussed improperly based contract cost increases, non-conformance in the management of the Statement of Work, and excessive labor rates for contractor personnel.” 
In 2004 the DoD IG report criticized the program (see the Whistleblowing section below). It said that the “NSA ‘disregarded solutions to urgent national security needs’” and “that TRAILBLAZER was poorly executed and overly expensive …” Several contractors for the project were worried about cooperating with DoD’s audit for fear of “management reprisal.” The Director of NSA “nonconcurred” with several statements in the IG audit, and the report contains a discussion of those disagreements.
In 2005, NSA director Michael Hayden told a Senate hearing that the Trailblazer program was several hundred million dollars over budget and years behind schedule. In 2006 the program was shut down, after having cost billions of US Dollars. Several anonymous NSA sources told Hosenball of Newsweek later on that the project was a “wasteful failure”.
The new project replacing Trailblazer is called Turbulence.
According to a 2011 New Yorker article, in the early days of the project several NSA employees met with Diane S Roark, an NSA budget expert on the House Intelligence Committee. They aired their grievances about Trailblazer. In response, NSA director Michael Hayden sent out a memo saying that “individuals, in a session with our congressional overseers, took a position in direct opposition to one that we had corporately decided to follow … Actions contrary to our decisions will have a serious adverse effect on our efforts to transform N.S.A., and I cannot tolerate them.”
In September 2002, several people filed a complaint with the Department of Defense IG’s office regarding problems with Trailblazer: they included Roark (aforementioned), ex-NSA senior analysts Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, and Senior Computer Systems Analyst Ed Loomis, who had quit the agency over concerns about its mismanagement of acquisition and allegedly illegal domestic spying. A major source for the report was NSA senior officer Thomas Andrews Drake. Drake had been complaining to his superiors for some time about problems at the agency, and about the superiority of ThinThread over Trailblazer, for example, at protecting privacy. Drake gave info to DoD during its investigation of the matter. Roark also went to her boss at the House committee, Porter Goss, about problems, but was rebuffed. She also attempted to contact William Renquist, the Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time.
Drake’s own boss, Maureen Baginski, the third-highest officer at NSA, quit partly over concerns about the legality of its behavior.
In 2003, the NSA IG (not the DoD IG) had declared Trailblazer an expensive failure. It had cost more than $1 billion.
In 2005, the DoD IG produced a report on the result of its investigation of the complaint of Roark and the others in 2002. This report was not released to the public, but it has been described as very negative. Mayer writes that it hastened the closure of Trailblazer, which was at the time in trouble from congress for being over budget.
In November 2005, Drake contacted Siobhan Gorman, a reporter of The Baltimore Sun. Gorman wrote several articles about problems at the NSA, including articles on Trailblazer. This series got her an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
In 2005, President George W. Bush ordered the FBI to find whoever had disclosed information about the NSA electronic surveillance program and its disclosure in the New York Times. Eventually, this investigation led to the people who had filed the 2002 DoD IG request, even though they had nothing to do with the New York Times disclosure. In 2007, the houses of Roark, Binney, and Wiebe were raided by armed FBI agents. According to Mayer, Binney claims the FBI pointed guns at his head and that of his wife. Wiebe said it reminded him of the Soviet Union. None of these people were ever charged with any crime. Four months later, Drake was raided in November 2007 and his computers and documents were confiscated.
In 2010 Drake was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges of obstructing justice, providing false information, and violating the Espionage Act of 1917, part of President Barack Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers and “leakers”. The government tried to get Roark to testify to a conspiracy, and made similar requests to Drake, offering him a plea bargain. They both refused.
In June 2011, the ten original charges against Drake were dropped, instead he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
Boundless Informant is a big data analysis and data visualization system used by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) to give NSA managers summaries of NSA’s world wide data collection activities. It is described in an unclassified, For Official Use Only Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) memo published by The Guardian. According to a Top Secret heat map display also published by The Guardian and allegedly produced by the Boundless Informant program, almost 3 billion data elements from inside the United States were captured by NSA over a 30-day period ending in March 2013.
Data analyzed by Boundless Informant includes electronic surveillance program records (DNI) and telephone call metadata records (DNR) stored in an NSA data archive called GM-PLACE. It does not include FISA data, according to the FAQ memo. PRISM, a government codename for a collection effort known officially as US-984XN, which was revealed at the same time as Boundless Informant, is one source of DNR data. According to the map, Boundless Informant summarizes data records from 504 separate DNR and DNI collection sources (SIGADs). In the map, countries that are under surveillance are assigned a color from green, representing least coverage to red, most intensive.
Slide showing that much of the world’s communications flow through the US.
Intelligence gathered by the United States government inside the United States or specifically targeting US citizens is legally required to be gathered in compliance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) and under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court).
NSA global data mining projects have existed for decades, but recent programs of intelligence gathering and analysis that include data gathered from inside the United States such as PRISM were enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under President Obama in December 2012.
Boundless Informant was first publicly revealed on June 8, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Guardian. The newspaper identified its informant, at his request, as Edward Snowden, who worked at the NSA for the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
According to published slides, Boundless Informant leverages Free and Open Source Software—and is therefore “available to all NSA developers”—and corporate services hosted in the cloud. The tool uses HDFS, MapReduce, and Cloudbase for data processing.
Legality and FISA Amendments Act of 2008
The FISA Amendments Act (FAA) Section 702 is referenced in PRISM documents detailing the electronic interception, capture and analysis of metadata. Many reports and letters of concern written by members of Congress suggest that this section of FAA in particular is legally and constitutionally problematic, such as by targeting U.S. persons, insofar as “Collections occur in U.S.” as published documents indicate.
The ACLU has asserted the following regarding the FAA: “Regardless of abuses, the problem with the FAA is more fundamental: the statute itself is unconstitutional.”
Senator Rand Paul is introducing new legislation called the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013 to stop the NSA or other agencies of the United States government from violating the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution using technology and big data information systems like PRISM and Boundless Informant.
ECHELON is a name used in global media and in popular culture to describe a signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis network operated on behalf of the five signatory states to the UKUSA Security Agreement (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, referred to by a number of abbreviations, including AUSCANNZUKUS and Five Eyes). It has also been described as the only software system which controls the download and dissemination of the intercept of commercial satellite trunk communications.
ECHELON, according to information in the European Parliament document, “On the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON interception system)” was created to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War in the early 1960s.
The system has been reported in a number of public sources. Its capabilities and political implications were investigated by a committee of the European Parliament during 2000 and 2001 with a report published in 2001, and by author James Bamford in his books on the National Security Agency of the United States. The European Parliament stated in its report that the term ECHELON is used in a number of contexts, but that the evidence presented indicates that it was the name for a signals intelligence collection system. The report concludes that, on the basis of information presented, ECHELON was capable of interception and content inspection of telephone calls, fax, e-mail and other data traffic globally through the interception of communication bearers including satellite transmission, public switched telephone networks (which once carried most Internet traffic) and microwave links.
Bamford describes the system as the software controlling the collection and distribution of civilian telecommunications traffic conveyed using communication satellites, with the collection being undertaken by ground stations located in the footprint of the downlink leg.
The UKUSA intelligence community was assessed by the European Parliament (EP) in 2000 to include the signals intelligence agencies of each of the member states:
the Government Communications Headquarters of the United Kingdom,
the National Security Agency of the United States,
the Communications Security Establishment of Canada,
the Defence Signals Directorate of Australia, and
the Government Communications Security Bureau of New Zealand.
the National SIGINT Organisation (NSO) of The Netherlands
The EP report concluded that it seemed likely that ECHELON is a method of sorting captured signal traffic, rather than a comprehensive analysis tool.
The ability to intercept communications depends on the medium used, be it radio, satellite, microwave, cellular or fiber-optic. During World War II and through the 1950s, high frequency (“short wave”) radio was widely used for military and diplomatic communication, and could be intercepted at great distances. The rise of geostationary communications satellites in the 1960s presented new possibilities for intercepting international communications. The report to the European Parliament of 2001 states: “If UKUSA states operate listening stations in the relevant regions of the earth, in principle they can intercept all telephone, fax and data traffic transmitted via such satellites.”
The role of satellites in point-to-point voice and data communications has largely been supplanted by fiber optics; in 2006, 99% of the world’s long-distance voice and data traffic was carried over optical-fiber. The proportion of international communications accounted for by satellite links is said to have decreased substantially over the past few years[when?] in Central Europe to an amount between 0.4% and 5%. Even in less-developed parts of the world, communications satellites are used largely for point-to-multipoint applications, such as video. Thus, the majority of communications can no longer be intercepted by earth stations; they can only be collected by tapping cables and intercepting line-of-sight microwave signals, which is possible only to a limited extent.
One method of interception is to place equipment at locations where fiber optic communications are switched. For the Internet, much of the switching occurs at relatively few sites. There have been reports of one such intercept site, Room 641A, in the United States. In the past[when?] much Internet traffic was routed through the U.S. and the UK, but this has changed; for example, in 2000, 95% of intra-German Internet communications was routed via the DE-CIX Internet exchange point in Frankfurt. A comprehensive worldwide surveillance network is possible only if clandestine intercept sites are installed in the territory of friendly nations, and/or if local authorities cooperate. The report to the European Parliament points out that interception of private communications by foreign intelligence services is not necessarily limited to the U.S. or British foreign intelligence services.
Most reports on ECHELON focus on satellite interception; testimony before the European Parliament indicated that separate but similar UK-US systems are in place to monitor communication through undersea cables, microwave transmissions and other lines.
See also: Industrial espionage
Intelligence monitoring of citizens, and their communications, in the area covered by the AUSCANNZUKUS security agreement has caused concern. British journalist Duncan Campbell and New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager asserted in the 1990s that the United States was exploiting ECHELON traffic for industrial espionage, rather than military and diplomatic purposes. Examples alleged by the journalists include the gear-less wind turbine technology designed by the German firm Enercon and the speech technology developed by the Belgian firm Lernout & Hauspie. An article in the US newspaper Baltimore Sun reported in 1995 that European aerospace company Airbus lost a $6 billion contract with Saudi Arabia in 1994 after the US National Security Agency reported that Airbus officials had been bribing Saudi officials to secure the contract.
In 2001, the Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System recommended to the European Parliament that citizens of member states routinely use cryptography in their communications to protect their privacy, because economic espionage with ECHELON has been conducted by the US intelligence agencies.
Bamford provides an alternative view, highlighting that legislation prohibits the use of intercepted communications for commercial purposes, although he does not elaborate on how intercepted communications are used as part of an all-source intelligence process.
According to its website, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is “a high technology organization … on the frontiers of communications and data processing”. In 1999 the Australian Senate Joint Standing Committee on Treaties was told by Professor Desmond Ball that the Pine Gap facility was used as a ground station for a satellite-based interception network. The satellites were said to be large radio dishes between 20 and 100 meters in diameter in geostationary orbits. The original purpose of the network was to monitor the telemetry from 1970s Soviet weapons, air defence radar, communications satellites and ground based microwave communications.
The European Parliament’s Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System stated: “It seems likely, in view of the evidence and the consistent pattern of statements from a very wide range of individuals and organisations, including American sources, that its name is in fact ECHELON, although this is a relatively minor detail.” The U.S. intelligence community uses many code names (see, for example, CIA cryptonym).
Former NSA employee Margaret Newsham claims that she worked on the configuration and installation of software that makes up the ECHELON system while employed at Lockheed Martin, for whom she worked from 1974 to 1984 in Sunnyvale, California, US, and in Menwith Hill, England, UK. At that time, according to Newsham, the code name ECHELON was NSA’s term for the computer network itself. Lockheed called it P415. The software programs were called SILKWORTH and SIRE. A satellite named VORTEX intercepted communications. An image available on the internet of a fragment apparently torn from a job description shows Echelon listed along with several other code names.
The 2001 European Parliamentary (EP) report lists several ground stations as possibly belonging to, or participating in, the ECHELON network. These include:
Likely satellite intercept stations
The following stations are listed in the EP report (p. 54 ff) as likely to have, or to have had, a role in intercepting transmissions from telecommunications satellites:
Hong Kong (since closed)
Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (Geraldton, Western Australia)
Menwith Hill (Yorkshire, U.K.) Map (reportedly the largest Echelon facility)
Misawa Air Base (Japan) Map
GCHQ Bude, formerly known as GCHQ CSO Morwenstow, (Cornwall, U.K.) Map
Pine Gap (Northern Territory, Australia – close to Alice Springs) Map
Sugar Grove (West Virginia, U.S.) Map
Yakima Training Center (Washington, U.S.) Map
GCSB Waihopai (New Zealand)
GCSB Tangimoana (New Zealand)
CFS Leitrim (Ontario, Canada)
Teufelsberg (Berlin, Germany) (closed 1992)
Other potentially related stations
The following stations are listed in the EP report (p. 57 ff) as ones whose roles “cannot be clearly established”:
Ayios Nikolaos (Cyprus – U.K.)
BadAibling Station (BadAibling, Germany – U.S.)
relocated to Griesheim in 2004
deactivated in 2008
Buckley Air Force Base (Aurora, Colorado)
Fort Gordon (Georgia, U.S.)
Gander (Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada)
Guam (Pacific Ocean, U.S.)
Kunia Regional SIGINT Operations Center (Hawaii, U.S.)
Lackland Air Force Base, Medina Annex (San Antonio, Texas)
Room 641A is a telecommunication interception facility operated by AT&T for the U.S. National Security Agency that commenced operations in 2003 and was exposed in 2006.
Room 641A is located in the SBC Communications building at 611 Folsom Street, San Francisco, three floors of which were occupied by AT&T before SBC purchased AT&T. The room was referred to in internal AT&T documents as the SG3 [Study Group 3] Secure Room. It is fed by fiber optic lines from beam splitters installed in fiber optic trunks carrying Internet backbone traffic and, as analyzed by J. Scott Marcus, a former CTO for GTE and a former adviser to the FCC, who has access to all Internet traffic that passes through the building, and therefore “the capability to enable surveillance and analysis of internet content on a massive scale, including both overseas and purely domestic traffic.” Former director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group, William Binney, has estimated that 10 to 20 such facilities have been installed throughout the United States.
The room measures about 24 by 48 feet (7.3 by 15 m) and contains several racks of equipment, including a Narus STA 6400, a device designed to intercept and analyze Internet communications at very high speeds.
The very existence of the room was revealed by a former AT&T technician, Mark Klein, and was the subject of a 2006 class action lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T. Klein claims he was told that similar black rooms are operated at other facilities around the country.
Room 641A and the controversies surrounding it were subjects of an episode of Frontline, the current affairs documentary program on PBS. It was originally broadcast on May 15, 2007. It was also featured on PBS’s NOW on March 14, 2008. The room was also covered in the PBS Nova episode “The Spy Factory”.
Basic diagram of how the alleged wiretapping was accomplished. From EFF court filings
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T on January 31, 2006, accusing the telecommunication company of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in a massive, illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans’ communications. On July 20, 2006, a federal judge denied the government’s and AT&T’s motions to dismiss the case, chiefly on the ground of the States Secrets Privilege, allowing the lawsuit to go forward. On August 15, 2007, the case was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and was dismissed on December 29, 2011 based on a retroactive grant of immunity by Congress for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the government. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. A different case by the EFF was filed on September 18, 2008, titled Jewel v. NSA.
PRISM: A clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) which can target customers of participating corporations outside or inside the United States
Main Core: A personal and financial database storing information of millions of U.S. citizens believed to be threats to national security. The data mostly comes from the NSA, FBI, CIA, as well as other government sources.
Nuclear Security Summit 2014 in the Hague – Obama & Xi meet
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Merkel miffed at Barack Obama and David Cameron ‘nuclear war game’
World leaders played an interactive nuclear war game designed to test their responses to a terrorist atomic “dirty bomb” attack that threatened the lives of hundreds of thousands of people
By Bruno Waterfield, and Peter Dominiczak in The Hague and Nick Squires in Rome
David Cameron joined Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Xi Jinping and other world leaders to play a “nukes on the loose” war game to see how they would cope with a terrorist nuclear attack.
The German chancellor grumbled at being asked to play games and take tests with the Prime Minister, US and Chinese presidents around a table with dozens of heads of state at a nuclear summit inThe Hague.
Her complaints were overruled because Mr Obama was keen on the idea and in on the surprise.
In the war game, played out by actors in a series of short films, a terrorist attack with an atomic “dirty bomb” takes place in the financial heart of an unnamed but Western metropolis. “It could be the City of London, or Wall Street, Milan or anywhere”, summit leaders were told.
As the scenario unfolded, it emerged that the terrorists are from an unidentified global terror network and they have stolen nuclear material from an unidentified country that had poorly secured its radiological and nuclear stockpiles.
The bomb is being built in a clandestine laboratory with stolen uranium. It is an improvised explosive device but deadly and the clock is ticking, the leaders were told. Hundreds of thousands of people could be about to die.
“They had to give an answer on their own, in real time. It was like a test. It put them on the spot. Should they inform the public or keep them in the dark,” said a diplomatic source.
“Should they work with other countries or stand alone to try to thwart or minimise the attack? How should they make the cold calculation of how to get a more sustainable human cost in terms of deaths?”
Each world leader had a computer tablet with a touch screen options to make one of four responses to a series of four scenario films played by actors and mimicking the famous 1983 Cold War Hollywood thriller “War Games”, where a computer hacker triggers a nuclear missile scare.
In a competitive environment, with a ticking clock, the leaders had to make rapid choices before the results were presented to the group, anonymously stripped of their identities and followed by discussion.
Perhaps predictably at a world summit on nuclear security, the war game found that shared, collective international decisions were able to stop the terrorist network before they could actually build the dirty bomb.
US officials said that the unconventional approach had been designed to give a “scare you to death” shock to make leaders seriously think about the security of nuclear materials.
But not everyone was happy about playing the war game with the grumbling led by Mrs Merkel who was unimpressed with role-playing at such a high-powered gathering. Mr Obama, who helped plan the game, overrode the moaning. He had Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, his lead national security adviser on the issue, helpfully by his side.
“Leaders had their doubts about participation on their own without their expert civil servants. It was about discussion and problem solving without leaders relying on written statements to read out. At the end the leaders were more enthusiastic,” said a spokesman for the summit.
Would you survive a nuclear blast?
Nuclear Blast Mapper on the PBS “Race for the Superbomb” web site show how horribly destructive thermonuclear weapons are. The fission bomb detonated over Nagasaki had an explosive power equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT. Blast Mapper’s 1-million ton hydrogen bomb, hypothetically detonated on the earth’s surface at any location you choose, has 50 times the explosive power of that 1945 explosion. Video clips of actual A-bomb detonations and their effects can also be viewed at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bomb
The adjoining map of the Tri-Cities, Washington, shows circles of destruction from a 1 megaton surface blast centered on Columbia Center mall.
Blast map key
NOTE: Blast pressure within the circles is greater than the indicated values and is less outside the circles. The zones of destruction in the map are broad generalizations and do not take into account factors such as weather and topography. Fatality numbers do not include the significant delayed effects of trauma, fire, or radioactivity.
12 psi (pounds per square inch), Radius: 1.7 miles
At ground zero lies a crater 200 feet deep and 1000 feet in diameter. The rim of the crater is composed of highly radioactive soil and debris. Nothing recognizable remains within about 0.6 mile from the center except, perhaps, the remains of some buildings’ foundations. At 1.7 miles, only some of the strongest buildings — those made of reinforced, poured concrete — are still standing. Ninety-eight percent of the population within this area are dead immediately.
5 psi, radius – 2.7 miles
Virtually everything is destroyed between the 12 and 5 psi circles. The walls of typical multi-story buildings, including apartment buildings, are completely blown out. The bare, structural skeletons of some buildings rise above the debris as you approach the 5 psi circle. Single-family residences within this area are completely blown away — only their foundations remain. Fifty percent of the population between the 12 and 5 psi circles are dead. Forty percent more are injured.
2 psi, radius – 4.7 miles
Any single-family residences that are not completely destroyed are heavily damaged. The windows of office buildings are blown away, as are some of their walls. Everything on these buildings’ upper floors, including the people who were working there, are thrown onto the street. Substantial debris clutters the entire area. Five percent of the population between the 5 and 2 psi circles are dead. Forty-five percent are injured.
1 psi, radius – 7.4 miles
Residences are moderately damaged. Commercial buildings have sustained minimal damage. Twenty-five percent of the population between the 2 and 1 psi circles have been injured, mainly by flying glass and debris. Many others have suffered flash burns from thermal radiation generated by the explosion.
Radiation effects are for downwind areas.
Assumptions: wind speed – 15 mph, time frame – 7 days
3,000 rem*, distance – 30 miles
Much more than a lethal dose of radiation. Death can occur within hours of exposure. About ten years will need to pass before levels of radioactivity in this area are low enough to be considered safe by U.S. peacetime standards.
900 rem, distance – 90 miles
A lethal dose of radiation. Death occurs from two to fourteen days.
300 rem, distance – 160 miles
Causes extensive internal damage, including harm to nerve cells and the cells that line the digestive tract. Also results in a loss of white blood cells and temporary hair loss.
90 rem, distance – 250 miles
No immediate harmful effects, but does result in a temporary decrease in white blood cells. Two to three years will need to pass before radioactivity levels in this area are low enough to be considered safe by U.S. peacetime standards.
*rem stands for “roentgen equivalent man.” It is a measurement used to quantify the amount of radiation that will produce certain biological effects.
NOTE: This information is drawn mainly from “The Effects of Nuclear War” (Office of Technology Assessment, Congress of the United States, Washington DC, 1979).
Ron Paul: U.S. Already Spent $5 Billion to Undermine Ukrainian Government
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The First World War – Part 2/10
The First World War – Part 3/10
The First World War – Part 4/10
The First World War – Part 5/10
The First World War – Part 6/10
The First World War – Part 7/10
The First World War – Part 8/10
The First World War – Part 9/10
The First World War – Part 10/10
The Guns of August
The Guns of August is a documentary that follows the book by the same title by author, Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989), an eminent American historian. She received the first of her two Pulitzer prizes for this 1962 masterpiece on World War I. The documentary was made in 1965. Barbara Tuchman was highly respected for her ability to present complex subjects and present them with clarity. Until I read the previous review, I have never heard of anyone accusing her of hating Germany or its people or of her book being anti-German propaganda. But there are pictures of shot civilians and movies of smoldering ruins. Then again, there are people who claim the Holocaust never took place and is just anti-Nazi propaganda… Facts: On August 3 1914, Germany declared war on France. The German invasion plan for France called for an attack through Belgium, instead of through the heavily defended Franco-German border. Belgium was neutral and its neutrality was protected by treaty with Great Britain. The Germans attacked on August 3rd. The next day, August 4th, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Germany warned Belgium that they only wanted to reach France and if Belgium complied, there wouldn’t be any trouble. Despite its small army, Belgium chose to protect its sovereignty and its honor and paid for it. Liège, Aarschot, Andenne, Tamines, Dinant, and Leuven, where the worst of the German depredations occurred.
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CIA Spies on Senate Staffers: A Troubling Pattern Is Reinforced
Senator Dianne Feinstein—who traditionally isastalwartdefender of the intelligence community—came out swinging against them this week. While on the floor of the Senate, she laid bare a two year long struggle concerning CIA spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers investigating CIA’s early 2000s torture and enhanced interrogation techniques. The spying by CIA crosses a line when it comes to Congressional oversight of the intelligence community. And it’s an emblem of the extreme imbalance between the power of Congress and the power of the intelligence community. If the intelligence community thinks they can act in such a way towards the people who are supposed to oversee them, what else do they think they can do?
How Did This Happen?
According to Senator Feinstein, the spying occurred in a facility provided by CIA to Senate Intelligence staffers. As part of the investigation, CIA agreed to not interfere with the facility or with the Senate Intelligence staff’s computers. After the staffers found a smoking gun document (an internal CIA review) that contradicted CIA’s own conclusions, the staffers—just like with previous documents—transferred it back to their own facility in the Senate. Soon after, the CIA found out about the possession and deleted files on the Senate staffers’ computers not once, but twice. Over 800 documents were deleted. Staffers do not know what those deleted documents contained.
The Oversight Regime Must Be Fixed
Senator Feinstein’s speech is the first step to ensuring Congressional oversight prevails, but the Department of Justice, which is currently conducting an investigation, should not be the only entity to review the details. The latest breach of trust by the intelligence community must spur Congress to exert their oversight powers and begin a full investigation into these actions and the oversight regime at-large.
These are pressing topics. It’s clear that the lack of oversight was a key factor in many of the egregious intelligence activities we learned about from the documents provided by Edward Snowden. The intelligence community evaded answering questions fully, or providing key documents to the intelligence committees. CIA spying is more proof that the oversight regime needs an overhaul. First and foremost, the American people—and Congress—need an oversight regime that works.
A Long Term Pattern
Some people are aghast at CIA’s actions. Details about the spying are sparse; however, it seems CIA may be guilty—at the minimum—of obstruction laws. But we’ve seen this before from the intelligence community. And we don’t have to draw from examples in the 1960s and 70s when the intelligence community was spying on Martin Luther King Jr. or anti-Vietnam activists. All we have to do is look at the past decade.
After the attacks on September 11, it took years for Senator Jay Rockefeller—then the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Community—to get a briefing and key documents for the entire committee about intelligence community actions. More recently, we saw obfuscation by the intelligence community in 2009 when it misled the FISA court. And just last year, the Director of National Intelligence, General James Clapper, lied to Congress about collecting data on innocent Americans. We also know members of Congress describe intelligence briefings as a game of 20 questions. Despite CIA’s original cooperation, it seems clear CIA did not want the Senate staffers to conduct a full investigation.
It should be obvious to anyone that these actions paint a picture—and confirm a pattern—of out-of-control intelligence agencies. The American public is losing a tremendous amount of trust in the intelligence community—trust that is necessary for the intelligence community to conduct its job. But it’s even more dangerous to the government body that is supposed to oversee the intelligence community: Congress.
Congress Must Act
Senator Feinstein’s concern over CIA spying on her staff should extend to a concern about NSA’s collection of all Americans’ calling records. Both actions are examples of intelligence community overreach and abuse of their authorities. There are serious problems when the stalwart defender of the intelligence community takes to the Senate floor to discuss problems with the committee’s oversight.
Beyond Senator Feinstein, Congress must retake its oversight role. For far too long has the intelligence community run roughshod over the intelligence committees. Time and time again, we’ve seen the inability for the intelligence community to grapple with the behemoth of the intelligence community. This must stop. An investigation should be carried out not only into CIA spying, but into the oversight regime as a whole, the classification system, and the egregious actions by the intelligence community—including the activities of NSA. All of these topics are core problems concerning the inability for the Senate Intelligence Committee to be fully briefed—or even grasp—intelligence community actions. This week may have been a loss for Congressional oversight, but members of Congress must reassert their power. Their duty to serve as representatives of the American people demand it.
Rand Paul on alleged CIA-Senate hacking: ‘This cannot happen in a free country’
By Joel Gehrke
Heads should roll at the CIA if Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., proves that intelligence officers hacked her staff’s computers as part of a dispute over a committee report on waterboarding, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told reporters.”There’s an incredible arrogance to me that the CIA thinks they can spy on a committee that is providing oversight for the CIA, and I think it’s a real, very serious constitutional breach,” Paul said outside the Senate chamber on Thursday. “This cannot happen in a free country.”Feinstein took to the Senate floor Tuesday to allege that “the CIA just went and searched the committee’s computers.” CIA director John Brennan denied Feinstein’s allegations, telling NBC, “The CIA was in no way spying on [the committee] or the Senate.” That denial has some lawmakers withholding judgement on the matter, at least for now.House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., praised Feinstein. “I tell you, you take on the intelligence community, you’re a person of courage, and she does not do that lightly,” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing Thursday morning. “Not without evidence — when I say evidence, [I mean] documentation of what it is that she is putting forth.”
A behind-the-scenes battle between the CIA and Congress erupted in public Tuesday as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee accused the agency of breaking laws and breaching constitutional principles in an alleged effort to undermine the panel’s multi-year investigation of a controversial interrogation program.Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the CIA of secretly removing documents, searching computers used by the committee and attempting to intimidate congressional investigators by requesting an FBI inquiry of their conduct — charges that CIA Director John Brennan disputed within hours of her appearance on the Senate floor.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) questioned whether a CIA search of congressional records might have undermined government oversight during a Senate floor speech Tuesday.
If true, “this is Richard Nixon stuff,” one senator says.
<:ARTICLE>Feinstein described the escalating conflict as a “defining moment” for Congress’s role in overseeing the nation’s intelligence agencies and cited “grave concerns” that the CIA had “violated the separation-of-powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.”Brennan fired back during a previously scheduled speech in Washington, saying that “when the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.”
The dueling claims exposed bitterness and distrust that have soared to new levels as the committee nears completion of a 6,000-page report that is expected to serve as a scathing historical record of the agency’s use of waterboarding and other brutal interrogation methods on terrorism suspects held at secret CIA prisons overseas after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Displaying flashes of anger during her floor speech, Feinstein said her committee would soon deliver the report to the White House and push for declassification of a document that lays bare “the horrible details of the CIA program that never, never, never should have existed.”
The latest dispute is in some ways a proxy for a deeper conflict over that document. The CIA and the committee are at odds over many of the report’s conclusions about the effectiveness of the interrogation program, but they are battling primarily over tension that surfaced during the investigation.
Feinstein’s remarks provided the most detailed account of that investigation, describing an arrangement in which the CIA set up a secret facility in Northern Virginia with computers where committee investigators were promised unfettered access to millions of operational cables, executive memos and other files on the interrogation program.
The disagreement between Feinstein and Brennan centers on whether agency employees or committee staff members — or both — abused their access to that shared network to gain an upper hand.
Feinstein implied that the CIA sabotaged the committee’s efforts from the outset, loading a massive amount of files on computers with no index, structure or ability to search. “It was a true document dump,” she said.
Over a period of years, investigators pored over more than 6.2 million classified records furnished by the CIA, using a search tool that agency technical experts agreed to install. But U.S. officials said the committee gained access to a set of documents that the agency never intended to share, files that were generated at the direction of former director Leon E. Panetta as part of an effort to take an inventory of the records being turned over to Feinstein’s panel.
The two sides have engaged in heated exchanges in recent days over the nature of those files and how they were obtained.
Referring to them as the “Panetta internal review,” Feinstein insisted that committee staff members discovered the documents during an ordinary search of the trove. She said they are particularly valuable because in tracking the flow of documents, CIA employees in some cases drew conclusions about their contents that match the subsequent interpretations made by committee staff members.
Jeremy Bash, Panetta’s former chief of staff, said Tuesday that that was never the director’s intent. Panetta “did not request an internal review of the interrogation program,” he said. “He asked the CIA staff to keep track of documents that were being provided. . . . He asked that they develop short summaries of the material, so that we would know what was being provided.”
Meanwhile, a letter that Brennan distributed to the CIA workforce on Tuesday raised questions about Feinstein’s claims and her awareness of how and when the committee obtained what she is calling the Panetta review files.
The letter, which Brennan sent to Feinstein on Jan. 27 and which was attached to a message he sent the workforce, recounts a meeting they had weeks earlier to discuss the matter. During that meeting, Feinstein said she didn’t know that the committee already had copies of the Panetta review. Brennan pushed her to explain why the panel had recently requested the files when they were already in its possession.
“You informed me that you were not aware that the committee staff already had access to the materials you had requested,” Brennan wrote, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post. Brennan urged Feinstein to work with the agency to determine how the committee had obtained the documents, a request she ultimately rejected, officials said.
The CIA began to suspect that the panel had obtained those files this year after lawmakers referred to the supposed “internal review” publicly. U.S. officials said CIA security personnel then checked the logs of the computer system it had set up for the committee, and found that the files had been moved to a part of the network that was off-limits to the CIA.
“They did something to get those documents,” said a U.S. official briefed on the matter. A security “firewall was breached. They figured out a work-around to get it.” The official declined to elaborate.
Feinstein said the review documents were “identified using the search tool provided by the CIA” but she was careful not to say precisely how they were obtained. “We don’t know whether the documents were provided intentionally by the CIA, unintentionally by the CIA, or intentionally by a whistleblower,” she said.
She acknowledged, however, that committee investigators made hard copies of those files and whisked them away to its offices on Capitol Hill, in part because the committee had previously seen cases in which more than 900 pages of records disappeared from the database with no explanation.
Feinstein expressed outrage that the CIA referred the matter to the FBI. “There is no legitimate reason to allege to the Justice Department that Senate staff may have committed a crime,” she said, describing the move as a “potential effort to intimidate this staff, and I am not taking it lightly.”
She also noted that the referral was made by Robert Eatinger, the CIA’s acting general counsel, who previously served as the top lawyer for the department that ran the CIA’s secret prisons, and who “is mentioned by name more than 1,600 times in our study.”
Feinstein, who has been a staunch supporter of other CIA programs including its drone campaign, said the agency may have violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches, as well as laws against domestic surveillance.
Although Republicans on the committee initially voted in favor of opening the investigation, GOP members abandoned the effort after it began and none has voted to endorse it.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the intelligence panel, told Bloomberg News that the dispute is “more complicated than what’s being put out there by Senator Feinstein or others. . . . I don’t think anyone has a clean hand and I think it’s important for the full truth to come out. I think people may be surprised to learn that, in this case, there were no good guys and maybe two or three bad ones.”
Brennan said he had ordered the CIA’s inspector general to review the agency’s conduct. The inspector general, in turn, has issued a separate referral seeking a Justice Department review.
Asked whether he would resign if the CIA was found to be in the wrong, Brennan said he would let the president decide his fate. “If I did something wrong, I will go to the president,” the director said. “He is the one who can ask me to stay or to go.”
The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks.
While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials.
The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.
The N.S.A. calls its efforts more an act of “active defense” against foreign cyberattacks than a tool to go on the offensive. But when Chinese attackers place similar software on the computer systems of American companies or government agencies, American officials have protested, often at the presidential level.
Among the most frequent targets of the N.S.A. and its Pentagon partner, United States Cyber Command, have been units of the Chinese Army, which the United States has accused of launching regular digital probes and attacks on American industrial and military targets, usually to steal secrets or intellectual property. But the program, code-named Quantum, has also been successful in inserting software into Russian military networks and systems used by the Mexican police and drug cartels, trade institutions inside the European Union, and sometime partners against terrorism like Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan, according to officials and an N.S.A. map that indicates sites of what the agency calls “computer network exploitation.”
“What’s new here is the scale and the sophistication of the intelligence agency’s ability to get into computers and networks to which no one has ever had access before,” said James Andrew Lewis, the cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Some of these capabilities have been around for a while, but the combination of learning how to penetrate systems to insert software and learning how to do that using radio frequencies has given the U.S. a window it’s never had before.”
No Domestic Use Seen
There is no evidence that the N.S.A. has implanted its software or used its radio frequency technology inside the United States. While refusing to comment on the scope of the Quantum program, the N.S.A. said its actions were not comparable to China’s.
“N.S.A.’s activities are focused and specifically deployed against — and only against — valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements,” Vanee Vines, an agency spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We do not use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”
Over the past two months, parts of the program have been disclosed in documents from the trove leaked by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. A Dutch newspaper published the map of areas where the United States has inserted spy software, sometimes in cooperation with local authorities, often covertly. Der Spiegel, a German newsmagazine, published the N.S.A.’s catalog of hardware products that can secretly transmit and receive digital signals from computers, a program called ANT. The New York Times withheld some of those details, at the request of American intelligence officials, when it reported, in the summer of 2012, on American cyberattacks on Iran.
President Obama is scheduled to announce on Friday what recommendations he is accepting from an advisory panel on changing N.S.A. practices. The panel agreed with Silicon Valley executives that some of the techniques developed by the agency to find flaws in computer systems undermine global confidence in a range of American-made information products like laptop computers and cloud services.
Embracing Silicon Valley’s critique of the N.S.A., the panel has recommended banning, except in extreme cases, the N.S.A. practice of exploiting flaws in common software to aid in American surveillance and cyberattacks. It also called for an end to government efforts to weaken publicly available encryption systems, and said the government should never develop secret ways into computer systems to exploit them, which sometimes include software implants.
Richard A. Clarke, an official in the Clinton and Bush administrations who served as one of the five members of the advisory panel, explained the group’s reasoning in an email last week, saying that “it is more important that we defend ourselves than that we attack others.”
“Holes in encryption software would be more of a risk to us than a benefit,” he said, adding: “If we can find the vulnerability, so can others. It’s more important that we protect our power grid than that we get into China’s.”
From the earliest days of the Internet, the N.S.A. had little trouble monitoring traffic because a vast majority of messages and searches were moved through servers on American soil. As the Internet expanded, so did the N.S.A.’s efforts to understand its geography. A program named Treasure Map tried to identify nearly every node and corner of the web, so that any computer or mobile device that touched it could be located.
A 2008 map, part of the Snowden trove, notes 20 programs to gain access to big fiber-optic cables — it calls them “covert, clandestine or cooperative large accesses” — not only in the United States but also in places like Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Middle East. The same map indicates that the United States had already conducted “more than 50,000 worldwide implants,” and a more recent budget document said that by the end of last year that figure would rise to about 85,000. A senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the actual figure was most likely closer to 100,000.
That map suggests how the United States was able to speed ahead with implanting malicious software on the computers around the world that it most wanted to monitor — or disable before they could be used to launch a cyberattack.
A Focus on Defense
In interviews, officials and experts said that a vast majority of such implants are intended only for surveillance and serve as an early warning system for cyberattacks directed at the United States.
“How do you ensure that Cyber Command people” are able to look at “those that are attacking us?” a senior official, who compared it to submarine warfare, asked in an interview several months ago.
“That is what the submarines do all the time,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe policy. “They track the adversary submarines.” In cyberspace, he said, the United States tries “to silently track the adversaries while they’re trying to silently track you.”
If tracking subs was a Cold War cat-and-mouse game with the Soviets, tracking malware is a pursuit played most aggressively with the Chinese.
The United States has targeted Unit 61398, the Shanghai-based Chinese Army unit believed to be responsible for many of the biggest cyberattacks on the United States, in an effort to see attacks being prepared. With Australia’s help, one N.S.A. document suggests, the United States has also focused on another specific Chinese Army unit.
Documents obtained by Mr. Snowden indicate that the United States has set up two data centers in China — perhaps through front companies — from which it can insert malware into computers. When the Chinese place surveillance software on American computer systems — and they have, on systems like those at the Pentagon and at The Times — the United States usually regards it as a potentially hostile act, a possible prelude to an attack. Mr. Obama laid out America’s complaints about those practices to President Xi Jinping of China in a long session at a summit meeting in California last June.
At that session, Mr. Obama tried to differentiate between conducting surveillance for national security — which the United States argues is legitimate — and conducting it to steal intellectual property.
TAKE IT TO THE LIMITS: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism
Giving Away Money Costs More Than You Think
Downsizing the Federal Government
Downsize the Department of Energy
Can We Eliminate the Department of Education? (Charles Murray)
$5 Billion Loan for Solar Energy — Department of Energy
Phil Kerpen on Neil Cavuto to discuss the DOE loan program
Our Ever Growing Dependence on Government
Obamanomics: A Legacy of Wasteful Spending
Why Does Big Business Love Big Government? (Domhoff, Rothbard, and Evers)
G. William Domhoff is a research professor in psychology and sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of Who Rules America? (1967), Bohemian Grove and Other Retreats: A Study in Ruling-Class Cohesiveness (1974), and other books.
A prolific author and Austrian economist, Murray Rothbard promoted a form of free market anarchism he called “anarcho-capitalism.”
Bill Evers was a resident scholar at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution (and is currently a research fellow there) and also served as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development in the U.S. Department of Education from 2007-09.
In this lecture Domhoff, Rothbard, and Evers talk about the “interlocking overlappers” that get together to influence the government, in California and in the country generally. They each spend some time describing what it is that draws businesspeople to market-capturing and rent-seeking behaviors, and take questions from the audience.
Walter Block – Free-Market Environmentalism [Australian Mises Seminar 2012]
How Murray Rothbard Became a Libertarian
The tide is rising for America’s libertarians
By Edward Luce
The new spirit in a rising climate of anti-politics has become an attitude, rather than a movement
Robert Nozick, the late US libertarian, smoked pot while he was writing Anarchy, State and Utopia. He would applaud the growth of libertarianism among today’s young Americans. Whether it is their enthusiasm for legalised marijuana and gay marriage – both spreading across the US at remarkable speed – or their scepticism of government, US millennials no longer follow President Barack Obama’s cue. Most of America’s youth revile the Tea Party, particularly its south-dominated nativist core. But they are not big-government activists either. If there is a new spirit in America’s rising climate of anti-politics, it is libertarian.
On the face of it this ought to pose a bigger challenge to the Republican party – at least for its social conservative wing. Mr Obama may have disappointed America’s young, particularly the millions of graduates who have failed to find good jobs during his presidency. But he is no dinosaur. In contrast, Republicans such as Rick Santorum, the former presidential hopeful, who once likened gay sex to “man on dog”, elicit pure derision. Even moderate Republicans, such as Chris Christie, who until last week was the early frontrunner for the party’s 2016 nomination, are considered irrelevant. Whether Mr Christie was telling the truth last week, when he denied knowledge of his staff’s role in orchestrating a punitive local traffic jam, is beside the point. Mr Christie’s Sopranos brand of New Jersey politics is not tailored to the Apple generation.
The opposite is true of Rand Paul, the Kentucky senator, whose chances of taking the 2016 prize rose with Mr Christie’s dented fortunes last week. Unlike Ron Paul, the senator’s father, who still managed to garner a large slice of the youth vote in 2008, Rand Paul eschews the more outlandish fringes of libertarian thought. Rather than promising an isolationist US withdrawal from the world, he touts a more moderate “non-interventionism”. Instead of pledging to end fiat money, he promises to audit the US Federal Reserve – “mend the Fed”, rather than “end the Fed”. Both find echo among the Y generation. So too does his alarmism about the US national debt. Far from being big spenders, millennials are more concerned about US debt than other generations, according to polls. They are also strongly in favour of free trade. More than a third of the Republican party now identifies as libertarian, according to the Cato Institute. Just under a quarter of Americans do so too, says Gallup.
All of which looks ominous for Ted Cruz, the Texan Republican whose lengthy filibuster against Obamacare last year lit the fuse for the US government shutdown. Mr Cruz, also a 2016 aspirant, leads the pugilistic wing of the Republican party that is prepared to burn the house down in order to save the ranch. Although also a Tea Partier, Mr Paul is cultivating a sunnier Reaganesque optimism that draws on the deep roots of US libertarianism. His brand of politics also strikes a chord with those who fear the growth of the US surveillance state – the types who view Edward Snowden (another millennial) as a hero rather than a traitor. Last year the US House of Representatives came within 12 votes of passing a bill to defund the National Security Agency. Mr Paul led the bill in the Senate. Next time they could succeed.
November 2012: While Obama lost ground among white male voters, his 2012 victory was the product of perhaps the most diverse electoral coalition in American history. Voters talk about how they interpret the president’s re-election
What does it mean for the Democrats? In terms of social values, libertarians are almost identical to liberals. Smoking pot and same-sex marriage both meet with big approval. The same is not necessarily true of guns. In spite of recent school massacres, 40 US states now have “concealed weapons” laws – many passed in the past 12 months. Again, millennials are surprisingly sceptical of gun control, say the polls. But it is on economic policy where they really part company with liberals. The Great Depression helped forge a generation of solid Democrats. The same does not appear to be true of the Great Recession. Franklin Roosevelt helped dig people out of misery in the 1930s by providing direct public employment. Mr Obama, on the other hand, has stuck largely to economic orthodoxy. He may have missed a golden opportunity to mould a generation of social democrats.
He has also inadvertently fuelled scepticism about the role of government. Mr Obama came to power in 2008 on a surge of voluntarism. He did so in part by appealing to youthful idealism about public service. That now feels like a long time ago. Distrust in public institutions has continued to rise during his presidency – most strongly among the youngest generation. The share of voters who identify as independents, rather than Democrats or Republicans, recently hit an all-time high of 42 per cent, according to Gallup. This is bad news for established figures in either party – and, indeed, in any walk of life. Hillary Clinton should beware. So should Jeb Bush.
On the minus side, libertarians have no real answer to many of America’s biggest problems – not least the challenges posed to US middle-class incomes by globalisation and technology. Nor are they coherent as a force. Libertarianism is an attitude, rather than an organisation. It is also potentially fickle. Young Americans disdain foreign entanglements. That could change overnight with a big terrorist attack on the homeland. They feel let down by Democrats and hostile to mainstream Republicans. Yet they could flock to an exciting new figure in either party. Theirs is a restless generation that disdains authority. Establishment figures should take note. Tomorrow belongs to them.
DOE says its energy-scoring software — called the Home Energy Scoring Tool – is like a vehicle’s mile-per-gallon rating because it allows homeowners to compare the energy performance of their homes to other homes nationwide. It also provides homeowners with suggestions for improving their homes’ efficiency.
The software is part of the government’s effort to reduce the nation’s energy consumption; but it’s also billed as a way to keep home-retrofitting going, at a time when stimulus funds for weather-proofing have run out.
The Home Energy Scoring Tool “can be a powerful motivator in getting homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements,” DOE says. “It’s also a great way to help trained workers enter the private sector energy improvement market as funding for weatherization efforts decline.”
DOE says its Home Energy Score is useful if you are a homeowner looking to renovate or remodel your home, lower your utility bills, improve the comfort of your home, or reduce your energy usage. Moreover, “the score serves as an official way to document these improvements and thereby enhance your home’s appeal when you’re ready to sell.”
Right now, getting your home scored is voluntary.
To produce a Home Energy Score, a trained, “qualified assessor” comes to your home — for a fee — and collects approximately 40 pieces of data about the home’s “envelope” (e.g., walls, windows, heating and cooling systems) during an hour-long walk-through.
Based on the home’s characteristics, the DOE software estimates the home’s annual energy use, assuming “typical homeowner behavior.” The software then converts the estimated energy use into a score, based on a 10-point scale (10 being the most energy-efficient). The 1-10 scale accounts for differences in weather conditions by using the zip code to assign the house to one of more than 1,000 weather stations.
In addition to showing the home’s current energy efficiency — or inefficiency — the score also shows where a home would rank if all of the energy-saving improvements identified during the home walk-through were made. That may prompt some homeowners to buy new windows or doors, for example, boosting the market for home retro-fitters.
DOE recommends getting a Home Energy Score “as soon as the program becomes available in your area.” The program launched in 2012, and at this time, only single-family homes and townhouses can be scored.
The scoring is available only through DOE’s participating partners, which include state and local governments, utilities, and non-profits. DOE does not determine how much an assessor charges to score a house. “It will depend on what the local market supports.” But DOE says its partners “have indicated plans to charge between $25 and $125 for the Home Energy Score.”
And yes, the size of the home matters because larger homes use more energy.
The Home Energy Score and the associated report is generated through DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory software. The 2014 version of DOE’s Home Energy Scoring Tool will be introduced at a webinar on Tuesday.
The Home Energy Score is similar to a vehicle’s mile-per-gallon rating, says the U.S. Energy Department. (Graphic is from DOE website)
DOE says more than 8,500 homes have been scored by the Energy Department’s growing network of more than 25 partners and 175 qualified assessors.
The business and economic reporting of CNSNews.com is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.
Cathy Zoi on the new Home Energy Score pilot program
Acting Under Secretary Cathy Zoi talks about the new Home Energy Score pilot program that was announced today by Vice President Biden and U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The Home Energy Score will offer homeowners straightforward, reliable information about their homes’ energy efficiency. A report provides consumers with a home energy score between 1 and 10, and shows them how their home compares to others in their region. The report also includes customized, cost-effective recommendations that will help to reduce their energy costs and improve the comfort of their homes.
200,000 homes weatherized under the Recovery Act
Home Energy Score Pilot Program Launched By DOE
Home Energy Score Qualified Assessor module 1 intro
Glenn Greenwald: The NSA Can “Literally Watch Every Keystroke You Make”
Spiegel has revealed new details about a secretive hacking unit inside the National Security Agency called the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO. The unit was created in 1997 to hack into global communications traffic. Hackers inside the TAO have developed a way to break into computers running Microsoft Windows by gaining passive access to machines when users report program crashes to Microsoft. In addition, with help from the CIA and FBI, the NSA has the ability to intercept computers and other electronic accessories purchased online in order to secretly insert spyware and components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer and journalist Glenn Greenwald join us to discuss the latest revelations, along with the future of Edward Snowden, who has recently offered to assist U.S. targets Germany and Brazil with their respective probes into NSA spying.
TAO Revealed: The NSA’s ‘top secret weapon’
‘NSA’s goal is elimination of privacy worldwide’ – Greenwald to EU (FULL SPEECH)
Glenn Greenwald and Ruth Marcus Get in Explosive Exchange over Snowden and ‘Horrible’ D.C. Media
How The NSA Hacks Your iPhone (Presenting DROPOUT JEEP)
Following up on the latest stunning revelations released yesterday by German Spiegel which exposed the spy agency’s 50 page catalog of “backdoor penetration techniques“, today during a speech given by Jacob Applebaum (@ioerror) at the 30th Chaos Communication Congress, a new bombshell emerged: specifically the complete and detailed description of how the NSA bugs, remotely, your iPhone. The way the NSA accomplishes this is using software known as Dropout Jeep, which it describes as follows: “DROPOUT JEEP is a software implant for the Apple iPhone that utilizes modular mission applications to provide specific SIGINT functionality. This functionality includes the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device. SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc. Command, control and data exfiltration can occur over SMS messaging or a GPRS data connection. All communications with the implant will be covert and encrypted.”
The flowchart of how the NSA makes your iPhone its iPhone is presented below:
NSA ROC operator
Load specified module
Send data request
iPhone accepts request
Retrieves required SIGINT data
Encrypt and send exfil data
What is perhaps just as disturbing is the following rhetorical sequence from Applebaum:
“Do you think Apple helped them build that? I don’t know. I hope Apple will clarify that. Here’s the problem: I don’t really believe that Apple didn’t help them, I can’t really prove it but [the NSA] literally claim that anytime they target an iOS device that it will succeed for implantation. Either they have a huge collection of exploits that work against Apple products, meaning that they are hoarding information about critical systems that American companies produce and sabotaging them, or Apple sabotaged it themselves. Not sure which one it is. I’d like to believe that since Apple didn’t join the PRISM program until after Steve Jobs died, that maybe it’s just that they write shitty software. We know that’s true.”
Or, Apple’s software is hardly “shitty” even if it seems like that to the vast majority of experts (kinda like the Fed’s various programs), and in fact it achieves precisely what it is meant to achieve.
How ironic would it be if Blackberry, left for dead by virtually everyone, began marketing its products as the only smartphone that does not allow the NSA access to one’s data (and did so accordingly). Since pretty much everything else it has tried has failed, we don’t see the downside to this hail mary attempt to strike back at Big Brother and maybe make some money, by doing the right thing for once.
We urge readers to watch the full one hour speech by Jacob Applebaum to realize just how massive Big Brother truly is, but those who want to just listen to the section on Apple can do so beginning 44 minutes 30 seconds in the presentation below.
Segment 0: God Is Behind Going Duck Crazy — Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson Suspended From Show For Expressing Views On Gays — Will Not Inherit The Kingdom of God — I’m With Phil — Photos & Videos
I am Second® – The Robertsons
Duck Dynasty : Phil’s Way of Life
Duck Dynasty: Unknown Facts About The Robertsons
The Best of Uncle Si
Duck Dynasty : Si Struck
Duck Dynasty: Si’s New Toy
Duck Dynasty: Si’s Dating Tips
Duck Dynasty : Hey
Uncle Si Robertson “ICY STARE” HILARIOUS DUCK DYNASTY ( 720P HD )
Duck Commanders Phil and Willie Robertson Interview – CONAN on TBS
The Robertson’s of Duck Dynasty Talk About How Their Faith in Jesus Turned Around Their Lives!!
Duck Commander Phil Robertson Talks About Why This Country Needs More Jesus
Duck Commander Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty spoke to the congregation of Saddleback church in July on why people need Jesus and why the founders would agree — and I gotta say it was awesome. I watched it last night and knew I had to post it for you guys. Duck Commander’s message is really simple, that people need to love God and love each other and he delivers it beautifully. He really is a fantastic preacher.
‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Makes Shocking ‘Gay is Sin’ Comment
Duck Dynasty dared to mention Jesus
‘Duck Dynasty’ star slammed over anti-gay rant
By Andrea Morabito
Phil Robertson, patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” clan, is being slammed for controversial comments he made about homosexuality in an interview in the January issue of GQ.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me,” Robertson told the magazine. “I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
When the reporter asked Robertson what he found sinful, he said “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”
The self-proclaimed Bible-thumper then went on to paraphrase Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
On Wednesday, GLAAD called Robertson’s statements “vile” and “littered with outdated stereotypes.”
“Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. “He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans — and Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.
“Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”
An A&E spokesman had no comment, but Robertson released his own statement responding to the controversy.
“I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior,” he said. “My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.
“However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
“Duck Dynasty” has been a ratings phenomenon for A&E, drawing 11.8 million viewers to its fourth season premiere last August, the most-watched nonfiction series telecast in cable history.
Obamacare Delay – Critics – THE BIG QUESTION: Is Obama A President Or A King? – The Kelly File
ObamaCare: Three Years of Broken Promises
Henry Chao: 30-40% of HealthCare.gov Still Needs To Be Built
DHS Cannot Provide Answers Regarding the Security of Healthcare.gov
Obamacare Website Healthcare.gov Crashes During Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ Visit
Pelosi taken apart by David Gregory on false Obamacare promises
Dennis Miller-special Nancy Pelosi
11-13-13 “ObamaCare Implementation: The Rollout of HealthCare.gov” Pt. I
11-13-13 “ObamaCare Implementation: The Rollout of HealthCare.gov” Pt. 2
11-13-13 “ObamaCare Implementation: The Rollout of HealthCare.gov” Pt. 3
Megyn Kelly Outraged Obama Lied about Americans being able to keep coverage, shows proof
Megyn Kelly Interviews Charles Krauthammer on Obamacare Outrage – Kelly File – 10/30/13
More Than a Website
Health Site Is Improving But Likely to Miss Saturday Deadline
Louise Radnofsky and Spencer E. Ante
Despite recent progress at HealthCare.gov, a raft of problems will remain beyond the Obama administration’s Saturday deadline to make the troubled federal insurance website work.
The news isn’t all bad: Users say the site looks better, pages load faster, and more people are getting through to sign up for health plans.
But technical problems still affect HealthCare.gov’s ability to verify users’ identities and transmit accurate enrollment data to insurers, officials say. The data center that supports the site faces continuing challenges, and tools for processing payments to insurers haven’t been built.
Technical staff in Washington have been racing up to the end-of-November deadline. In their last public pronouncement on the effort, three days before the deadline, officials said they had much to do to get the site into a condition where it functions smoothly for a majority of users.
The success of the White House’s signature domestic initiative is riding on the technicians’ ability to fix the site, as well as the rest of the federal technology supporting enrollment. Across the nation, that effort is being eyed hopefully by supporters of the law, since the site is the centerpiece of the effort to overhaul American health care and extend coverage to millions of people.
Those hopes were deflated by a series of blows for the administration right up until Nov. 30, and the site continued to experience outages, both planned and unplanned, in the week leading up to the deadline.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the administration was planning to change its Web-hosting provider from Verizon Communications Inc. VZ -0.62%Verizon Communications Inc. U.S.: NYSE $49.62 -0.31 -0.62% Nov. 29, 2013 1:00 pm Volume (Delayed 15m) : 4.30M AFTER HOURS $49.79 +0.17 +0.34% Nov. 29, 2013 4:42 pm Volume (Delayed 15m): 611,247 P/E Ratio 65.29 Market Cap $141.91 Billion Dividend Yield 4.27% Rev. per Employee $651,745 11/27/13 H-P Will Replace Verizon for W… 11/20/13 Investors Tell AT&T, Verizon t… 11/18/13 Supreme Court Declines to Hear…More quote details and news »VZ in Your Value Your Change Short position subsidiary Terremark to Hewlett-Packard Co. in the spring, a complex transition that could introduce new challenges and take months; and the same day, the administration said it was shelving for a year any attempts to operate an online exchange for small businesses. On Wednesday, Verizon declined to comment on its clients.
Officials mixed optimism with caution. “November 30th does not represent a relaunch of HealthCare.gov,” said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which operates the site. “It is not a magical date. There will be times after November 30th when the site, like any website, does not perform optimally.”
For the fix-it drive that began in late October, the administration tapped former White House adviser Jeff Zients and QSSI, a unit of UnitedHealth Group, to act as the new lead contractor, establishing a 24-hour “war room” operations center to coordinate contractors who previously weren’t working well together. Since then, officials have focused on fixing the kinds of wrinkles that were most obvious to users.
They have reported success in speeding up the response time of the system, lowering it from an average of eight seconds at launch to less than one second for most users. They say they have eliminated a host of glitches in the software so that pages now load incorrectly less than 1% of the time. And they say they have added “visual cues” to help users navigate the system more easily.
Technicians have been racing to add new computer server, storage and database capacity to the website, hoping to get the site ready to withstand 50,000 simultaneous users by Sunday, as was originally intended, said people familiar with the work. “I think we are close,” said one.
Some people involved with enrollment say they have seen a notable uptick in recent weeks. Maine Community Health Options, a nonprofit plan based in Lewiston, Maine, now is getting “hundreds of enrollments” a day, rather than the dozens it saw trickling in earlier this month, said Chief Executive Kevin Lewis.
But problems with the performance of the site’s databases, storage and servers and their interaction with each other continue to slow the site or make it unavailable for short periods, according to government officials and contractors working on the project.
Explore how America’s health-care overhaul will affect you on this first-person adventure. CLICK THE IMAGEto start interactive experience.
Karen Egozi, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, which has trained nearly 50 people to help others enroll, said the performance of the website has improved in recent weeks but suffers from unpredictable glitches. On Nov. 19, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius visited a medical center in Miami and watched a member of Ms. Egozi’s staff help a couple fill out an application. The website failed, in front of a local TV camera crew.
On the weekend of Nov. 23 and 24, Ms. Egozi said her navigators were able to sign up a few people. But on Nov. 25, she said the site was down for a little while. “Sometimes, similar to when the secretary was here, the site does not let us through to the next section,” she said. “It was not working today, but yesterday it worked well.”
One source of early problems: The government had bought web-hosting services from Terremark subsidiary that initially gave it a highly virtualized system of servers shared by other groups within the Medicare center, rather than a dedicated group of computer servers for HealthCare.gov. Plans are in place to replace the Verizon unit with H-P this spring.
HHS also didn’t initially contract for a backup website or monitoring tools like those used by sophisticated consumer sites, according to people familiar with the matter.
The website still has no separate backup copy, but it did replace the virtual database with dedicated hardware, and bought and installed monitoring software.
Meanwhile, the site has a backlog of users who encountered problems in its first weeks of operation. Some appear to be locked out from the early stages unless they can get their account deleted. Others are stuck at the next big stage, persuading the federal government of their identity and their income so their application for tax credits can be processed.
Yannette Castellano waits to talk to a navigator about health-care options available under the Affordable Care Act, at the North Shore Medical Center, on Nov. 19 in Miami. AP
Guy Dicharry of Los Lunas, N.M., said he had been in limbo at the identity-verification stage since Oct. 5, despite giving the site personal information several times so it can confirm his income. He hasn’t heard back about a paper application submitted Nov. 1.
“This has been botched and is not getting fixed. If it’s not fixed, I’ll be ringing in 2014 as a newly uninsured person. I suspect that is the opposite of what the ACA was supposed to achieve,” said Mr. Dicharry, who described himself as a supporter of the Affordable Care Act. Because of their age and income, Mr. Dicharry and his wife stand to gain valuable subsidies toward the cost of coverage, but only if he buys it through the website.
Ronald Gallagher of Paradise Valley, Ariz., said he had been helping his daughter shop for coverage. After 16 hours over four days starting Oct. 1, they were told her identity was verified and she could pick a plan. But when they logged in to the website, it said her application was “In Progress.”
After failing to get help from a call center, father and daughter filled out an application over the phone in early November, but they still haven’t received a letter telling what insurance plans she qualifies for. “So far, nothing the government has done has worked,” Mr. Gallagher said.
Even when people successfully enroll, insurers say they sometimes get incorrect data. Ms. Bataille, the government spokeswoman, said officials have seen “marked improvements” in the information transmitted to insurers but “we know there are still issues that remain.” An HHS official also said that there had been improvements in identity verification, but that the agency knew it wasn’t fully fixed.
Mr. Lewis of Maine Community Health Options also worried about a larger volume of applicants, especially since insurers have now been told to find ways to process applications that come in from people as late as Dec. 23 in time for their coverage to begin Jan. 1, rather than a previous Dec. 15 deadline.
If “there’s an avalanche on that last date, I don’t know if the system will be able to support all that,” he said.
Book TV: After Words: Harry Markopolos, “No One Would Listen”
Madoff Whistleblower Speaks with ABC News Radios Aaron Kate
Ackerman Scolds SEC for Not Stopping Bernie Madoff Scheme Despite Being Told About It 10yrs Ago
Markopolos: I gift wrapped and delivered the largest Ponzi scheme in history to the SEC
Rep. Maloney on Madoff Fraud
Congressman Spencer Bachus questions at Madoff Ponzi Fraud Hearing
Congressman Sherman questions Harry Markopoulos
Ron Paul – Madoff Fraud Hearing – Congress – Big Ponzi Scheme 01-05-09
DP/30: Chasing Madoff, subject Harry Markopolos (pt 1 of 2)
DP/30: Chasing Madoff, subject Harry Markopolos (pt 2 of 2)
Background Articles and Videos
Bernie Madoff on the modern stock market
Bernie Madoff Reveals to Barbara Walters He Is ‘Happier in Prison’
Bernie Madoff’s Jail Cell and His Future Life in Prison, Levine: “He’s Worse Than a Child Molester.”
The Madoff Hustle – Part 1
The Madoff Hustle – Part 2
The Madoff Hustle – Part 3
The Madoff Hustle – Part 4
Part 1: The Hunt for Madoff’s Money
Part 2: The Hunt for Madoff?s Money
Too Good to be True- The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff Part 1
Erin Arvedlund first wrote about Bernie Madoff for Barrons in 2001 and published her book, Too Good to be True- The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff in August of 2009. In this episode of The Massachusetts School of Law’s Books of our Time, Dean Velvel, himself a Madoff victim, and Arvedlund discuss the history of the brokerage industry, the possible culpability of the entire Madoff family, the difference between Madoff’s legitimate brokerage firm and his illegitimate hedge fund and the steps that lead up to the largest Ponzi scheme in American History. Arvedlund tells the story of Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme with the knowledge and detail of an insider, and sheds new light on the greatest financial enigma of American History.
The Massachusetts School of Law also presents information on important current affairs to the general public in television and radio broadcasts, an intellectual journal, conferences, author appearances, blogs and books. For more information visit mslawledu.
Too Good to be True- The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff Part 2
The Wall Street Journal broke the news Monday that fewer than 50,000 people have enrolled in the new health care exchanges, a figure that we confirmed at The Washington Post.
That seems like a pretty small number of enrollees. Yet we haven’t seen much public panic from health law supporters. “I think everybody anticipated the early months would have relatively low enrollment,” Ron Pollack, president of the nonprofit health-care advocacy network Families USA, told me Monday night. “Obviously, with the Web site malfunctioning, that made the likely conclusion inevitable.”
Some of this apparent calm could simply be the deliberate optimism of the health care law’s advocates. But, putting aside any such bias, we can still make a case that the health law’s debut is not a complete disaster.
First, we can compare the rollout to that of the Massachusetts health care law, which had 123 enrollees sign up during the first month of coverage. That ended up accounting for 0.3 percent of first-year enrollment. If we tally up 40,000 enrollees in the federal marketplace –and another 49,000 in the state exchanges, as counted by consulting firm Avalere Health –that works out to about 1.2 percent of the 7 million people the Congressional Budget Office has projected will sign up on the exchange in 2014.
Massachusetts eventually saw a really big spike in enrollment right before the individual mandate kicked in. You can see that in this chart from the New England Journal of Medicine (which Adrianna McIntyre discusses in an aptly titled post, “This chart should be getting more attention.”).
We can also look at Medicaid enrollment, which has outpaced some observers’ expectations. There have been at least 440,000 Medicaid enrollments so far, according to Avalere. That would put Medicaid about 5 percent toward a projected enrollment of 9 million in 2014.
Is it easier to enroll people into a program such as Medicaid that does not charge premiums? Definitely. Is that program a key part of the health care law, responsible for more than half of the health law’s coverage expansion? Yes. So, these high levels of Medicaid enrollment in the first few weeks do matter for the health law’s insurance expansion.
Most health policy experts I talk to aren’t as concerned about the number of people who sign up for the health care law as they are about who actually enrolled. Was it a wave of sick people with really high health care costs, or did that group of under 50,000 people include a good chunk of younger, healthier people who don’t visit the doctor all too often?
Even that ratio will be difficult to figure out before March, when open enrollment ends. As the chart above on Massachusetts shows, a lot of healthy people might wait until right before the individual mandate kicks in to sign up for a plan. If you’d like to pencil in some time for freaking out about the health law’s failure, it’s probably best to schedule it for early April, when we’ll have more definitive data on who is actually signing up for Obamacare.
The fight over how to define the new health law’s success is coming down to one question: Who counts as an Obamacare enrollee?
Health insurance plans only count subscribers as enrolled in a health plan once they’ve submited a payment. That is when the carrier sends out a member card and begins paying doctor bills.
When the Obama administration releases health law enrollment figures later this week, though, it will use a more expansive definition. It will count people who have purchased a plan as well as those who have a plan sitting in their online shopping cart but have not yet paid.
“In the data that will be released this week, ‘enrollment’ will measure people who have filled out an application and selected a qualified health plan in the marketplace,” said an administration official, who requested anonymity to frankly describe the methodology.
The disparity in the numbers is likely to further inflame the political fight over the Affordable Care Act. Each side could choose a number to make the case that the health law is making progress or failing miserably.
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, said insurance companies have received about 50,000 private health plan enrollments through HealthCare.gov. Even combined with state tallies, the figure falls far short of the 500,000 sign-ups the administration initially predicted for both private sign-ups and those opting for the expansion of Medicaid.
In recent weeks, administration officials have warned that the enrollment figures for October would be low, given the tumultuous launch of the health Web site.
The administration plans to use this count of enrollees because that’s where their interaction with the healthcare.gov site ends, the administration official said. Insurance plans, rather than the federal government, are responsible for collecting the first month’s premium.
The shopping cart on healthcare.gov only contains space for one health plan, meaning the consumer must have gotten far enough to settle on a specific option.
Addressing the Wall Street Journal’s report, Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said: “We cannot confirm these numbers. More generally, we have always anticipated that initial enrollment numbers would be low and increase over time. . . . The problems with the Web site will cause the numbers to be lower than initially anticipated.”
States that have so far released enrollment data also tend to use this wider definition. The 14 states running their own insurance marketplaces have reported 49,000 enrollments in private health insurance plans, according to an analysis released Monday by consulting firm Avalere Health. They have also enrolled many thousands more into the Medicaid program, which the health-care law expanded.
“The idea that people are going to do layaway purchasing three months out goes against the American way,” Rhode Island exchange director Christine Ferguson said in late September, shortly before the health law’s rollout.
But the city’s exchange, DC Health Link, estimates that 321 people in the District have dropped a specific health insurance plan into their shopping cart. Of those, 164 have requested an invoice for their first month’s premium from the insurance carrier.
“We recognize that most people do not have the luxury of paying for coverage in October, months before a bill is due,” exchange spokesman Richard Sorian said Friday. “I hope that all consumers here in the District remember that they have until Dec. 15 to finalize their selection by paying their first month’s premium in order to have coverage on Jan. 1, 2014.”
The number of poor people in America is 3 million higher than the official count, encompassing 1 in 6 residents due to out-of-pocket medical costs and work-related expenses, according to a revised census measure released Wednesday.
The new measure is aimed at providing a fuller picture of poverty, but does not replace the official government numbers. Put in place two years ago by the Obama administration, it generally is considered more reliable by social scientists because it factors in living expenses as well as the effects of government aid, such as food stamps and tax credits.
Administration officials have declined to say whether the new measure eventually could replace the official poverty formula, which is used to allocate federal dollars to states and localities and to determine eligibility for safety-net programs such as Medicaid.
Congress would have to agree to adopt the new measure, which generally would result in a higher poverty rate from year to year and thus higher government payouts for aid programs.
Based on the revised formula, the number of poor people in 2012 was 49.7 million, or 16 percent. That exceeds the record 46.5 million, or 15 percent, that was officially reported in September.
The latest numbers come as more working-age adults picked up low-wage jobs in the slowly improving economy but still struggled to pay living expenses. Americans 65 and older had the largest increases in poverty under the revised formula, from 9.1 percent to 14.8 percent, because of medical expenses such as Medicare premiums, deductibles and other costs not accounted for in the official rate.
There also were increases for Hispanics and Asian-Americans, partly due to lower participation among immigrants and non-English speakers in government aid programs such as housing aid and food stamps.
African-Americans and children, helped by government benefits, had declines in poverty compared with the official rate.
“This is a real incongruity, when 1 in 6 people face economic insecurity here in the richest country in the world,” said Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University economist and former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers who has argued for more government action to alleviate income inequality.
“When so many citizens are worse off year after year, with food insecurity and health care insecurity, there’s no way you can say that’s a successful economy.”
Last week, more than 47 million Americans who receive food stamps saw their benefits go down, while Congress began negotiations on further cuts of up to $4 billion annually to the program.
Among states, California had the highest share of poor people, hurt in part by high housing costs and large numbers of immigrants, followed by the District of Columbia, Nevada and Florida. Under the official poverty rate, more rural states were more likely to be at the top of list, led by Mississippi, Louisiana and New Mexico.
Some other findings:
-Food stamps helped lift about 5 million people above the poverty line. Without such aid, the overall poverty rate would increase from 16 percent to 17.6 percent.
-Working-age adults ages 18-64 saw an increase in poverty from 13.7 percent based on the official calculation to 15.5 percent, due mostly to commuting and child care costs.
-Child poverty declined from 22.3 percent to 18 percent under the new measure. Under both measures, children still remained the age group most likely to be living in poverty.
-By race, Hispanics and Asians saw higher rates of poverty, 27.8 percent and 16.7 percent respectively, compared with rates of 25.8 percent and 11.8 percent under the official formula. In contrast, African-Americans saw a modest decrease, from 27.3 percent to 25.8 percent based on the revised numbers. Among non-Hispanic whites, poverty rose from 9.8 percent to 10.7 percent.
“The primary reason that poverty remains so high is that the benefits of a growing economy are no longer being shared by all workers as they were in the quarter-century following the end of World War II,” said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan economist.
“Given current economic conditions, poverty will not be substantially reduced unless government does more to help the working poor.”
Economists long have criticized the official poverty rate as inadequate. Based on a half-century-old government formula, the official rate continues to assume the average family spends one-third of its income on food. Those costs have declined to a much smaller share, more like one-seventh.
In reaction to some of the criticism, the Obama administration in 2010 asked the Census Bureau to develop a new poverty measure, based partly on recommendations made by the National Academy of Sciences. The goal is to help lawmakers better gauge the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs.
For instance, the new measure finds that if it weren’t for Social Security payments, the poverty rate would rise to 54.7 percent for people 65 and older and 24.5 percent for all age groups.
Refundable tax credits such as the earned income tax credit helped lift 9 million people above the poverty line. Without the credits, child poverty would rise from 18 percent to 24.7 percent.
In recent years, New York City as well California, Virginia and Wisconsin have sought to put in place a more accurate poverty measure. They were prompted in part by local officials such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who have argued that the official measure does not take into account urban costs of living and that larger cities may get less federal money as a result.
Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.
Years after the Great Recession ended, 46.5 million Americans are still living in poverty, according to a Census Bureau report released Tuesday.
Meanwhile, median household income fell slightly to $51,017 a year in 2012, down from $51,100 in 2011 — a change the Census Bureau does not consider statistically significant.
Poverty in the United States
Poverty is a state of privation, or a lack of the usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. The most common measure of poverty in the U.S. is the “poverty threshold” set by the U.S. government. This measure recognizes poverty as a lack of those goods and services commonly taken for granted by members of mainstream society. The official threshold is adjusted for inflation using the consumer price index. The government’s definition of poverty is based on total income received. For example, the poverty level for 2012 was set at $23,050 (total yearly income) for a family of four. Most Americans (58.5%) will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75. Poverty rates are persistently higher in rural and inner city parts of the country as compared to suburban areas.
In November 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau said more than 16% of the population lived in poverty in the United States, including almost 20% of American children, up from 14.3% (approximately 43.6 million) in 2009 and to its highest level since 1993. In 2008, 13.2% (39.8 million) Americans lived in poverty.California has a poverty rate of 23.5%, the highest of any state in the country.
In 2011 extreme poverty in the United States, meaning households living on less than $2 per day before government benefits, was double 1996 levels at 1.5 million households, including 2.8 million children. This would be roughly 1.2% of the US population in 2011, presuming a mean household size of 2.55 people. In 2011, child poverty reached record high levels, with 16.7 million children living in food insecure households, about 35% more than 2007 levels. In 2009 the number of people who were in poverty was approaching 1960s levels that led to the national War on Poverty.
There were about 643,000 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people nationwide in January 2009. Almost two-thirds stayed in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program and the other third were living on the street, in an abandoned building, or another place not meant for human habitation. About 1.56 million people, or about 0.5% of the U.S. population, used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009.Around 44% of homeless people are employed.
Two official measures of poverty
Number in Poverty and Poverty Rate: 1959 to 2011. United States.
Poverty Rates by Age 1959 to 2011. United States.
There are two basic versions of the federal poverty measure: the poverty thresholds (which are the primary version) and the poverty guidelines. The Census Bureau issues the poverty thresholds, which are generally used for statistical purposes—for example, to estimate the number of people in poverty nationwide each year and classify them by type of residence, race, and other social, economic, and demographic characteristics. The Department of Health and Human Services issues the poverty guidelines for administrative purposes—for instance, to determine whether a person or family is eligible for assistance through various federal programs.
Since the 1960s, the United States government has defined poverty in absolute terms. When the Johnsonadministration declared “war on poverty” in 1964, it chose an absolute measure. The “absolute poverty line” is the threshold below which families or individuals are considered to be lacking the resources to meet the basic needs for healthy living; having insufficient income to provide the food, shelter and clothing needed to preserve health.
The “Orshansky Poverty Thresholds” form the basis for the current measure of poverty in the U.S. Mollie Orshansky was an economist working for the Social Security Administration (SSA). Her work appeared at an opportune moment. Orshansky’s article was published later in the same year that Johnson declared war on poverty. Since her measure was absolute (i.e., did not depend on other events), it made it possible to objectively answer whether the U.S. government was “winning” this war. The newly formed United States Office of Economic Opportunity adopted the lower of the Orshansky poverty thresholds for statistical, planning, and budgetary purposes in May 1965.
The Bureau of the Budget (now the Office of Management and Budget) adopted Orshansky’s definition for statistical use in all Executive departments. The measure gave a range of income cutoffs, or thresholds, adjusted for factors such as family size, sex of the family head, number of children under 18 years old, and farm or non-farm residence. The economy food plan (the least costly of four nutritionally adequate food plans designed by the Department of Agriculture) was at the core of this definition of poverty.
The Department of Agriculture found that families of three or more persons spent about one third of their after-tax income on food. For these families, poverty thresholds were set at three times the cost of the economy food plan. Different procedures were used for calculating poverty thresholds for two-person households and persons living alone. Annual updates of the SSA poverty thresholds were based on price changes in the economy food plan.
Two changes were made to the poverty definition in 1969. Thresholds for non-farm families were tied to annual changes in the Consumer Price Index rather than changes in the cost of the economy food plan. Farm thresholds were raised from 70 to 85% of the non-farm levels.
In 1981, further changes were made to the poverty definition. Separate thresholds for “farm” and “female-householder” families were eliminated. The largest family size category became “nine persons or more.”
Apart from these changes, the U.S. government’s approach to measuring poverty has remained static for the past forty years.
The poverty guideline figures are not the figures the Census Bureau uses to calculate the number of poor persons. The figures that the Census Bureau uses are the poverty thresholds. The Census Bureau provides an explanation of the difference between poverty thresholds and guidelines. The Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. The 2010 figure for a family of 4 with no children under 18 years of age is $22,541, while the figure for a family of 4 with 2 children under 18 is $22,162. For comparison, the 2011 HHS poverty guideline for a family of 4 is $22,350.
Numbers in other countries
The official number of poor in the United States in 2008 is about 39.1 million people, greater in number but not percentage than the officially poor in Indonesia, which has a far lower Human Development Index and the next largest population after the United States. The poverty level in the United States, with 15% (46.2 million people in poverty, of a total of 308.5 million) is comparable to the one in France, where 14% of the population live with less than 880 euros per month.
Number of poor are hard to compare across countries. Absolute income may be used but does not reflect the actual number of poor, which depend on relative income and cost of living in each country. Among developed countries, each country then has its own definition and threshold of what it means to be poor, but this is not adjusted for cost of living and social benefits. For instance, despite the fact that France and US have about the same threshold in terms of dollars amount for poverty, cost of living benefits differ, with universal health care and highly subsidized post-secondary education existing in France. In general, it might be better to use the Human Poverty Index (HPI), Human Development Index (HDI) or other global measure to compare quality of living in different countries.
Relative measures of poverty
Another way of looking at poverty is in relative terms. “Relative poverty” can be defined as having significantly less access to income and wealth than other members of society.Therefore, the relative poverty rate is a measure of income inequality. When the standard of living among those in more financially advantageous positions rises while that of those considered poor stagnates, the relative poverty rate will reflect such growing income inequality and increase. Conversely, the relative poverty rate can decrease, with low income people coming to have less wealth and income if wealthier people’s wealth is reduced by a larger percentage than theirs. In 1959, a family at the poverty line had an income that was 42.64% of the median income. If the poverty line in 1999 was less than 42.64% of the median income, then relative poverty would have increased.
In the European Union and for the OECD, “relative poverty” is defined as an income below 60% of the national median equalized disposable income after social transfers for a comparable household. In Germany, for example, the official relative poverty line for a single adult person in 2003 was 938 euros per month (11,256 euros/year, $12,382 PPP. West Germany 974 euros/month, 11,688 euros/year, $12,857 PPP). For a family of four with two children below 14 years the poverty line was 1969.8 euros per month ($2,167 PPP) or 23,640 euros ($26,004 PPP) per year. According to Eurostat the percentage of people in Germany living at risk of poverty (relative poverty) in 2004 was 16% (official national rate 13.5% in 2003). Additional definitions for poverty in Germany are “poverty” (50% median) and “strict poverty” (40% median, national rate 1.9% in 2003). Generally the percentage for “relative poverty” is much higher than the quota for “strict poverty”. The U.S concept is best comparable to “strict poverty”. By European standards the official (relative) poverty rate in the United States would be significantly higher than it is by the U.S. measure. A research paper from the OECD calculates the relative poverty rate for the United States at 16% for 50% median of disposable income and nearly 24% for 60% of median disposable income (OECD average: 11% for 50% median, 16% for 60% median).
Some critics argue that relying on income disparity to determine who is impoverished can be misleading. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data suggests that consumer spending varies much less than income. In 2008, the “poorest” one fifth of Americans households spent on average $12,955 per person for goods and services (other than taxes), the second quintile spent $14,168, the third $16,255, the fourth $19,695, while the “richest” fifth spent $26,644. The disparity of expenditures is much less than the disparity of income.[neutrality is disputed]
Income distribution and relative poverty
Although the relative approach theoretically differs largely from the Orshansky definition, crucial variables of both poverty definitions are more similar than often thought. First, the so-called standardization of income in both approaches is very similar. To make incomes comparable among households of different sizes, equivalence scales are used to standardize household income to the level of a single person household. In Europe, the modified OECD equivalence scale is used, which takes the combined value of 1 for the head of household, 0.5 for each additional household member older than 14 years and 0.3 for children. When compared to the US Census poverty lines, which is based on a defined basket of goods, for the most prevalent household types both standardization methods show to be very similar.
Furthermore, the poverty threshold in Western-European countries is not always higher than the Orshansky threshold for a single person family. The actual Orchinsky poverty line for single person households in the US ($9645 in 2004) is very comparable to the relative poverty line in many Western-European countries (Belgium 2004: €9315), while price levels are also similar. The reason why relative poverty measurement causes high poverty levels in the US, as demonstrated by Förster, is caused by distributional effects rather than real differences in well-being among EU-countries and the US.
The median household income is much higher in the US than in Europe due to the wealth of the middle classes in the US, from which the poverty line is derived. Although the paradigm of relative poverty is most valuable, this comparison of poverty lines show that the higher prevalence of relative poverty levels in the US are not an indicator of a more severe poverty problem but an indicator of larger inequalities between rich middle classes and the low-income households. It is therefore not correct to state that the US income distribution is characterized by a large proportion of households in poverty; it is characterized by relatively large income inequality but also high levels of prosperity of the middle classes.[neutrality is disputed] The 2007 poverty threshold for a three member family is 17,070.
Poverty and demographics
In addition to family status, race/ethnicity and age also correlate with high poverty rates in the United States. Although data regarding race and poverty are more extensively published and cross tabulated the family status correlation is by far the strongest.
Poverty and family status
Homeless children in the United States. The number of homeless children reached record highs in 2011, 2012,and 2013 at about three times their number in 1983.
According to the US Census, in 2007 5.8% of all people in married families lived in poverty, as did 26.6% of all persons in single parent households and 19.1% of all persons living alone. More than 75% of all poor households are headed by women (2012).
By race/ethnicity and family status, based on data from 2007
Among married couple families: 5.8% lived in poverty. This number varied by race and ethnicity as follows:
5.4% of all white persons (which includes white Hispanics),
9.7% of all black persons (which includes black Hispanics), and
14.9% of all Hispanic persons (of any race) living in poverty.
Among single parent (male or female) families: 26.6% lived in poverty. This number varied by race and ethnicity as follows”
22.5% of all white persons (which includes white Hispanics),
44.0% of all black persons (which includes black Hispanics), and
33.4% of all Hispanic persons (of any race) living in poverty.
Among individuals living alone: 19.1% lived in poverty. This number varied by race and ethnicity as follows:
18% of white persons (which includes white Hispanics)
27.9% of black persons (which includes black Hispanics) and
27% of Hispanic persons (of any race) living in poverty
Poverty and race/ethnicity
The US Census declared that in 2010 15.1% of the general population lived in poverty:
9.9% of all non-Hispanic white persons
12.1% of all Asian persons
26.6% of all Hispanic persons (of any race)
27.4% of all black persons.
About half of those living in poverty are non-Hispanic white (19.6 million in 2010), but poverty rates are much higher for blacks and Hispanics. Non-Hispanic white children comprised 57% of all poor rural children.
In FY 2009, black families comprised 33.3% of TANF families, non-Hispanic white families comprised 31.2%, and 28.8% were Hispanic.
Poverty and age
The US Census declared that in 2010 15.1% of the general population lived in poverty:
22% of all people under age 18
13.7% of all people 19–64, and
9% of all people ages 65 and older
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) uses a different measure for poverty and declared in 2008 that child poverty in the US is 20% and poverty among the elderly is 23%. The non-profit advocacy group Feeding America has released a study (May 2009) based on 2005–2007 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and theAgriculture Department, which claims that 3.5 million children under the age of 5 are at risk of hunger in the United States. The study claims that in 11 states, Louisiana, which has the highest rate, followed by North Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho and Arkansas, more than 20 percent of children under 5 are allegedly at risk of going hungry. (Receiving fewer than 1,800 calories per day) The study was paid by ConAgra Foods, a large food company.
In 2013, child poverty reached record high levels in the U.S., with 16.7 million children living in food insecure households. 47 million Americans depend on food banks, more than 30% above 2007 levels. Households headed by single mothers are most likely to be affected. Worst affected are the District of Columbia, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico and Florida, while North Dakota, New Hampshire, Virginia, Minnesota and Massachusetts are the least affected.
Poverty and education
Poverty affects individual access to quality education. The U.S. education system is funded by local communities; therefore the quality of materials and teachers is reflective of the affluence of community. Low income communities are not able to afford the quality education that high income communities are. Another important aspect of education in low income communities is the apathy of both students and teachers. To some the children of the poor or ignorant are seen as mere copies of their parents fated to live out the same poor or ignorant life. The effect of such a perception can be teachers that will not put forth the effort to teach and students that are opposed to learning; in both cases the idea is that the poor student is incapable. Females in poverty are also likely to become pregnant at a young age, and with fewer resources to care for a child, young women often drop out of school. Due to these and other reasons the quality of education between the classes is not equal.
Eighty-nine percent of the American households were food secure throughout the entire year of 2002, meaning that they had access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all of the household members. The remaining households were food insecure at least some time during that year. The prevalence of food insecurity rose from 10.7% in 2001 to 11.1% in 2002, and the prevalence of food insecurity with hunger rose from 3.3% to 3.5%.
In 2007, 88.9% of American households were food secure throughout the entire year.  The number of American households that were food secure throughout the entire year dropped to 85.4% in 2008. The prevalence of food insecurity has been essentially unchanged since 2008.
Factors in poverty
There are numerous factors related to poverty in the United States.
According to the American Enterprise Institute, research has shown that income and intelligence are related. Charles Murray compared the earnings of 733 full sibling pairs with differing intelligence quotients (IQ’s). He referred to the sample as utopian in that the sampled pairs were raised in families with virtually no illegitimacy, divorce or poverty. The average earnings of sampled individuals with an IQ of under 75 was $11,000, compared to $16,000 for those with an IQ between 75 and 90, $23,000 for those with an IQ between 90 and 110, $27,000 for those with an IQ between 110 and 125, and $38,000 for those with an IQ above 125.
Income has a high correlation with educational levels. In 2007, the median earnings of household headed by individuals with less than a 9th grade education was $20,805 while households headed by high school graduates earned $40,456, households headed holders of bachelor’s degree earned $77,605, and families headed by individuals with professional degrees earned $100,000.
In many cases poverty is caused by job loss. In 2007, the poverty rate was 21.5% for individuals who were unemployed, but only 2.5% for individuals who were employed full-time.
In 1991, 8.3% of children in two-parent families were likely to live in poverty; 19.6% of children lived with father in single parent family; and 47.1% in single parent family headed by mother.
Income levels vary with age. For example, the median 2009 income for households headed by individuals age 15–24 was only $30,750, but increased to $50,188 for household headed by individuals age 25–34 and $61,083 for household headed by individuals 35–44. Although the reasons are unclear, work experience and additional education may be factors.
Income levels vary along racial/ethnic lines: 21% of all children in the United States live in poverty, about 46% of black children and 40% of Latino children live in poverty. The poverty rate is 9.9% for black married couples and only 30% of black children are born to married couples (see Marriage below). Citing the Pew Research Center,The Economistreports that in 2007,11% of black women aged 30–44 without a high school diploma had a working spouse.[copyright violation?] The poverty rate for native born and naturalized whites is identical (9.6%). On the other hand, the poverty rate for naturalized blacks is 11.8% compared to 25.1% for native born blacks suggesting race alone does not explain income disparity. Not all minorities have low incomes. Asian families have higher incomes than all other ethnic groups. For example, the 2005 median income of Asian families was $68,957 compared to the median income of white families of $59,124. Asians, however, report discrimination occurrences more frequently than blacks. Specifically, 31% of Asians reported employment discrimination compared to 26% of blacks in 2005.
The relationship between tax rates and poverty is disputed. A study comparing high tax Scandinavian countries with the U. S. suggests high tax rates are inversely correlated with poverty rates. The poverty rate, however, is low in some low tax countries such as Switzerland. A comparison of poverty rates between states reveals that some low tax states have low poverty rates. For example, New Hampshire has the lowest poverty rate of any state in the U. S., and has very low taxes (46th among all states).It is true however that in those instances, both Switzerland and New Hampshire have a very high household income and other measures to levy or offset the lack of taxation. For example, Switzerland has Universal Healthcare and a free system of education for children as young as four years old. New Hampshire has no state income tax or sales tax, but does have the nation’s highest property taxes.
The Heritage Foundation speculates that illegal immigration increases job competition among low wage earners, both native and foreign born. Additionally many first generation immigrants, namely those without a high school diploma, are also living in poverty themselves.
Concerns regarding accuracy
In recent years, there have been a number of concerns raised about the official U.S. poverty measure. In 1995, the National Research Council‘s Committee on National Statistics convened a panel on measuring poverty. The findings of the panel were that “the official poverty measure in the United States is flawed and does not adequately inform policy-makers or the public about who is poor and who is not poor.”
The panel was chaired by Robert Michael, former Dean of the Harris School of the University of Chicago. According to Michael, the official U.S. poverty measure “has not kept pace with far-reaching changes in society and the economy.” The panel proposed a model based on disposable income:
According to the panel’s recommended measure, income would include, in addition to money received, the value of non-cash benefits such as food stamps, school lunches and public housing that can be used to satisfy basic needs. The new measure also would subtract from gross income certain expenses that cannot be used for these basic needs, such as income taxes, child-support payments, medical costs, health-insurance premiums and work-related expenses, including child care.
Many sociologists and government officials have argued that poverty in the United States is understated, meaning that there are more households living in actual poverty than there are households below the poverty threshold. A recent NPR report states that as much as 30% of Americans have trouble making ends meet and other advocates have made supporting claims that the rate of actual poverty in the US is far higher than that calculated by using the poverty threshold. A study taken in 2012 estimated that roughly 38% of Americans live “paycheck to paycheck.”
According to William H. Chafe, if one used a relative standard for measuring poverty (a standard that took into account the rising standards of living rather than an absolute dollar figure) then 18% of families was living in poverty in 1968, not 13% as officially estimated at that time.
As far back as 1969, the Bureau of Labor Statistics put forward suggested budgets for families to live adequately on. 60% of working-class Americans lived below one of these budgets, which suggested that a far higher proportion of Americans lived in poverty than the official poverty line suggested. These findings were also used by observers on the left when questioning the long-established view that most Americans had attained an affluent standard of living in the two decades following the end of the Second World War.
Using a definition of relative poverty (reflecting disposable income below half the median of adjusted national income), it was estimated that, between 1979 and 1982, 17.1% of Americans lived in poverty, compared with 12.6% of the population of Canada, 12.2% of the population of Australia, 9.7% of the population of Britain, 5.6% of the population of West Germany, 5.3% of the population of Sweden, and 5.2% of the population of Norway.
As noted above, the poverty thresholds used by the US government were originally developed during the Johnson administration’sWar on Poverty initiative in 1963–1964. Mollie Orshansky, the government economist working at the Social Security Administration who developed the thresholds, based the threshold levels on the cost of purchasing what in the mid-1950s had been determined by the US Department of Agriculture to be the minimal nutritionally-adequate amount of food necessary to feed a family. Orshansky multiplied the cost of the food basket by a factor of three, under the assumption that the average family spent one third of its income on food.
While the poverty threshold is updated for inflation every year, the basket of food used to determine what constitutes being deprived of a socially acceptable minimum standard of living has not been updated since 1955. As a result, the current poverty line only takes into account food purchases that were common more than 50 years ago, updating their cost using the Consumer Price Index. When methods similar to Orshansky’s were used to update the food basket using prices for the year 2000 instead of from nearly a half century earlier, it was found that the poverty line should actually be 200% higher than the official level being used by the government in that year.
Yet even that higher level could still be considered flawed, as it would be based almost entirely on food costs and on the assumption that families still spend a third of their income on food. In fact, Americans typically spent less than one tenth of their after-tax income on food in 2000. For many families, the costs of housing, health insurance and medical care, transportation, and access to basic telecommunications take a much larger bite out of the family’s income today than a half century ago; yet, as noted above, none of these costs are considered in determining the official poverty thresholds. According to John Schwarz, a political scientist at the University of Arizona:
The official poverty line today is essentially what it takes in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation, to purchase the same poverty-line level of living that was appropriate to a half century ago, in 1955, for that year furnished the basic data for the formula for the very first poverty measure. Updated thereafter only for inflation, the poverty line lost all connection over time with current consumption patterns of the average family. Quite a few families then didn’t have their own private telephone, or a car, or even a mixer in their kitchen… The official poverty line has thus been allowed to fall substantially below a socially decent minimum, even though its intention was to measure such a minimum.
The issue of understating poverty is especially pressing in states with both a high cost of living and a high poverty rate such as California where the median home price in May 2006 was determined to be $564,430. With half of all homes being priced above the half million dollar mark and prices in urban areas such as San Francisco, San Jose or Los Angeles being higher than the state average, it is almost impossible for not just the poor but also lower middle class worker to afford decent housing, and no possibility of home ownership. In the Monterey area, where the low-pay industry of agriculture is the largest sector in the economy and the majority of the population lacks a college education the median home price was determined to be $723,790, requiring an upper middle class income which only roughly 20% of all households in the county boast.
Such fluctuations in local markets are, however, not considered in the Federal poverty threshold, and thus leave many who live in poverty-like conditions out of the total number of households classified as poor.
In 2011, the Census Bureau introduced a new supplementary poverty measure aimed at providing a more accurate picture of the true extent of poverty in the United States. According to this new measure, 16% of Americans lived in poverty in 2011, compared with 15.2% using the official figure. The new measure also estimated that nearly half of all Americans lived in poverty that year, defined as living within 200% of the federal poverty line.
Duke University Professor of Public Policy and Economics Sandy Darity, Jr. says, “There is no exact way of measuring poverty. The measures are contingent on how we conceive of and define poverty. Efforts to develop more refined measures have been dominated by researchers who intentionally want to provide estimates that reduce the magnitude of poverty.”
Some critics assert that the official U.S. poverty definition is inconsistent with how it is defined by its own citizens and the rest of the world, because the U.S. government considers many citizens statistically impoverished despite their ability to sufficiently meet their basic needs. According to a 2011 paper by poverty expert Robert Rector, of the 43.6 million Americans deemed to be below the poverty level by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2009, the majority had adequate shelter, food, clothing and medical care. In addition, the paper stated that those assessed to be below the poverty line in 2011 have a much higher quality of living than those who were identified by the census 40 years ago as being in poverty. Moreover, Swedish libertarianthink tankTimbro points out that lower-income households in the U.S. tend to own more appliances and larger houses than many middle-income Western Europeans.
The federal poverty line also excludes income other than cash income, especially welfare benefits. Thus, if food stamps and public housing were successfully raising the standard of living for poverty stricken individuals, then the poverty line figures would not shift since they do not consider the income equivalents of such entitlements.
A 1993 study of low income single mothers titled Making Ends Meet, by Kathryn Edin, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, showed that the mothers spent more than their reported incomes because they could not “make ends meet” without such expenditures. According to Edin, they made up the difference through contributions from family members, absent boyfriends, off-the-book jobs, and church charity.
According to Edin: “No one avoided the unnecessary expenditures, such as the occasional trip to the Dairy Queen, or a pair of stylish new sneakers for the son who might otherwise sell drugs to get them, or the Cable TV subscription for the kids home alone and you are afraid they will be out on the street if they are not watching TV.” However many mothers skipped meals or did odd jobs to cover those expenses. According to Edin, for “most welfare-reliant mothers food and shelter alone cost almost as much as these mothers received from the government. For more than one-third, food and housing costs exceeded their cash benefits, leaving no extra money for uncovered medical care, clothing, and other household expenses.” 
In the age of inequality, such anti-poverty policies are more important than ever, as higher inequality creates both more poverty along with steeper barriers to getting ahead, whether through the lack of early education, nutrition, adequate housing, and a host of other poverty-related conditions that dampen ones chances in life.
There have been many governmental and nongovernmental efforts to reduce poverty and its effects. These range in scope from neighborhood efforts to campaigns with a national focus. They target specific groups affected by poverty such as children, people who are autistic, immigrants, or people who are homeless. Efforts to alleviate poverty use a disparate set of methods, such as advocacy, education, social work, legislation, direct service or charity, and community organizing.
Recent debates have centered on the need for policies that focus on both “income poverty” and “asset poverty.” Advocates for the approach argue that traditional governmental poverty policies focus solely on supplementing the income of the poor, through programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and Food Stamps. According to the CFED2012 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, 27 percent of households – nearly double the percentage that are income poor – are living in “asset poverty.” These families do not have the savings or other assets to cover basic expenses (equivalent to what could be purchased with a poverty level income) for three months if a layoff or other emergency leads to loss of income. Since 2009, the number of asset poor families has increased by 21 percent from about one in five families to one in four families. In order to provide assistance to such asset poor families, Congress appropriated $24 million to administer the Assets for Independence Program under the supervision of the US Department for Health and Human Services. The program enables community-based nonprofits and government agencies to implement Individual Development Account or IDA programs, which are an asset-based development initiative. Every dollar accumulated in IDA savings is matched by federal and non-federal funds to enable households to add to their assets portfolio by buying their first home, acquiring a post-secondary education and starting or expanding a small business.
Additionally, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC or EIC) is a credit for people who earn low-to-moderate incomes. This credit allows them to get money from the government if their total tax outlay is less than the total credit earned, meaning it is not just a reduction in total tax paid but can also bring new income to the household. The Earned Income Tax Credit is viewed as the largest poverty reduction program in the United States. There is an ongoing debate in the US about what is the most effective way to fight poverty, is it through the tax code with the EITC or through the minimum wage laws.
President Obama’s aides went to extraordinary lengths to uncover the identity of a senior official who was using Twitter to make snarky comments about White House staffers. Suspicion gradually centered on Jofi Joseph, the point man on nuclear nonproliferation at the National Security Council. So at a meeting in which everyone was in on the scam an inaccurate but innocuous news tidbit was revealed. When Joseph used his anonymous Twitter handle #natlsecwonk to broadcast the tidbit he was caught and promptly fired. He was not fired for revealing any secrets, but for making disparaging comments about thin-skinned administration players ranging from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
What apparently intensified the campaign to identify the “snarker” was a comment about Valerie Jarrett, the senior Obama adviser who has her own Secret Service detail and appears to exercise an inordinate amount of power behind the scenes. Joseph tweeted “I’m a fan of Obama, but his continuing reliance and dependence upon a vacuous cipher like Valerie Jarrett concerns me.”
Jarrett, an old Chicago friend of both Barack and Michelle Obama, appears to exercise such extraordinary influence she is sometimes quietly referred to as “Rasputin” on Capitol Hill, a reference to the mystical monk who held sway over Russia’s Czar Nicholas as he increasingly lost touch with reality during World War I.
Darrell Delamaide, a columnist for Dow Jones’s MarketWatch, says that “what has baffled many observers is how Jarrett, a former cog in the Chicago political machine and a real-estate executive, can exert such influence on policy despite her lack of qualifications in national security, foreign policy, economics, legislation or any of the other myriad specialties the president needs in an adviser.”
Delamaide believes the term “vacuous cipher” that was applied to Jarrett stung so much because it could be used as a metaphor for the administration in general. He writes that what “has remained consistent about the Obama administration is that vacuity — the slow response in a crisis, the hesitant and contradictory communication, a lack of conviction and engagement amid constant political calculation.” The stunning revelation that President Obama wasn’t kept properly apprised of problems with Obamacare’s website is just the latest example of how dysfunctional Obama World can be.
Whether Jarrett’s influence is all too real or exaggerated is unknowable. What is known is the extent to which she has long been a peerless enabler of Barack Obama’s inflated opinion of himself. Consider this quote from New Yorker editor David Remnick’s interview with her for his 2010 book The Bridge.
“I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. . . . He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability — the extraordinary, uncanny ability — to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. . . . So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. . . . He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”
Up against a court flatterer of that caliber it’s no surprise that Jarrett has outlasted almost everyone who was in Obama’s original White House team — from chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to political guru David Axelrod to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. All are known to have crossed her, and all are gone. As one former Obama aide once told me: “Valerie is ‘She Who Must Not be Challenged.’”
When the revealing histories of the Obama White House are written it will be fascinating to learn just how extensive her role in the key decisions of the Obama years was.
TRUTH about EBT SYSTEM / FOOD STAMPS SHUTDOWN – Are you PREPARED for SOCIAL UNREST & MARTIAL LAW?
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Food Stamps EBT Shut Down Declined
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Eat Your Last Meal!!! EBT, WIC,& FOOD STAMPS TO END in exchange for MICROCHIPPING TO BEGIN!!
People in Ohio, Michigan and 15 other states found themselves unable to use their food stamp debit-style cards on Saturday, after a routine test of backup systems by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure.
At about 9 a.m. Saturday, reports from across the country began pouring in that customers’ EBT cards were not working in stores.
At 2 p.m., an EBT customer service representative told CBS Boston that the system was currently down for a computer system upgrade.
Xerox spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer released further details later in the afternoon in an emailed statement.
“While the electronic benefits system is now up and running, beneficiaries in the 17 affected states continue to experience connectivity issues to access their benefits. Technical staff is addressing the issue and expect the system to be restored soon,” Wasmer said. “Beneficiaries requiring access to their benefits can work with their local retailers who can activate an emergency voucher system where available. We appreciate our clients’ patience while we work through this outage as quickly as possible.”
Wasmer said the affected states also included Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Courtney Rowe said the outage is not related to the government shutdown.
Shoppers left carts of groceries behind at a packed Market Basket grocery store in Biddeford, Maine, because they couldn’t get their benefits, said fellow shopper Barbara Colman, of Saco, Maine. The manager put up a sign saying the EBT system was not in use. Colman, who receives the benefits, called an 800 telephone line for the program and it said the EBT system was down due to maintenance, she said.
“That’s a problem. There are a lot of families who are not going to be able to feed children because the system is being maintenanced,” Colman said. She planned to reach out to local officials. “You don’t want children going hungry tonight because of stupidity,” she said.
Colman said the store manager promised her that he would honor the day’s store flyer discounts next week.
Ohio’s cash and food assistance card payment systems went down at 11 a.m., said Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Ohio’s cash system has been fixed, but he said that its electronic benefits transfer card system is still down. Johnson said Xerox is notifying retailers to revert to the manual system, meaning customers can spend up to $50 until the system is back online. Recipients of the state’s supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP, should call the 800 number on the back of their card, and Xerox will guide them through the purchase process.
Illinois residents began reporting problems with their cards — known as LINK in that state — on Saturday morning, said Januari Smith, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Smith said that typically when the cards aren’t working retailers can call a backup phone number to find out how much money customers have available in their account. But that information also was unavailable because of the outage, so customers weren’t able to use their cards.
“It really is a bad situation but they are working to get it fixed as soon as possible,” Smith said. “We hope it will be back up later today.”
In Clarksdale, Miss. — one of the poorest parts of one of the poorest states in the nation — cashier Eliza Shook said dozens of customers at Corner Grocery had to put back groceries when the cards failed Saturday because they couldn’t afford to pay for the food. After several hours, she put a sign on the front door to tell people about the problem.
“It’s been terrible,” Shook said in a phone interview. “It’s just been some angry folks. That’s what a lot of folks depend on.”
Mississippi Department of Human Services director Rickey Berry confirmed that Xerox, the state’s EBT vendor, had computer problems. He said he had been told by midafternoon that the problems were being fixed.
“I know there are a lot of mad people,” Berry said.
Sheree Powell, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, started receiving calls around 11:30 a.m. about problems with the state’s card systems. More than 600,000 Oklahomans receive SNAP benefits, and money is dispersed to the cards on the first, fifth and 10th days of every month, so the disruption came at what is typically a high-use time for the cards.
Oklahoma also runs a separate debit card system for other state benefits like unemployment payments. Those cards can be used at ATMs to withdraw cash. Powell said Xerox administers both the EBT and debit card systems, and they both were down initially.
Like Ohio’s Johnson, Powell said that Oklahoma’s cash debit card system has since been restored, but the EBT cards for the SNAP program were still down. Powell said Oklahoma’s Xerox representative told them that the problems stemmed from a power failure at adata center, and power had been restored quickly.
“It just takes a while to reboot these systems,” she said, adding that she did not know where the data center was located.
The federal EBT website was unavailable due to the government shutdown.
BUREAU OF THE FISCAL SERVICE
STAR - TREASURY FINANCIAL DATABASE
TABLE 1. SUMMARY OF RECEIPTS, OUTLAYS AND THE DEFICIT/SURPLUS BY MONTH OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT (IN MILLIONS)
ACCOUNTING DATE: 08/13
PERIOD RECEIPTS OUTLAYS DEFICIT/SURPLUS (-)
+ ____________________________________________________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________
OCTOBER 163,072 261,539 98,466
NOVEMBER 152,402 289,704 137,302
DECEMBER 239,963 325,930 85,967
JANUARY 234,319 261,726 27,407
FEBRUARY 103,413 335,090 231,677
MARCH 171,215 369,372 198,157
APRIL 318,807 259,690 -59,117
MAY 180,713 305,348 124,636
JUNE 260,177 319,919 59,741
JULY 184,585 254,190 69,604
AUGUST 178,860 369,393 190,533
SEPTEMBER 261,566 186,386 -75,180
YEAR-TO-DATE 2,449,093 3,538,286 1,089,193
OCTOBER 184,316 304,311 119,995
NOVEMBER 161,730 333,841 172,112
DECEMBER 269,508 270,699 1,191
JANUARY 272,225 269,342 -2,883
FEBRUARY 122,815 326,354 203,539
MARCH 186,018 292,548 106,530
APRIL 406,723 293,834 -112,889
MAY 197,182 335,914 138,732
JUNE 286,627 170,126 -116,501
JULY 200,030 297,627 97,597
AUGUST 185,370 333,293 147,923
YEAR-TO-DATE 2,472,542 3,227,888 755,345
No Fed Taper: What Does It Mean for Your Money? (9/18/13)
Federal Reserve: No Taper (9/18/13)
Ron Paul: Fed Decision To Not Taper Is A Really Bad Sign
Ron Paul: Taper Fakeout Means Fed Is Worried
Breaking News: Federal Reserve Will Not Taper
Rick Santelli Reacts to Federal Reserve No Taper
Why The Fed. Will INCREASE, NOT DECREASE, It’s QE/Money Printing. By Gregory Mannarino
In Business – Fed Taper Pause Fuels Commodities Rally
To Taper, or Not to Taper
FED Says No Taper — We Need A War, Gun Confiscation And Control Of Internet First — Episode 166
JIM RICKARDS: Fed Will TAPER in September or Never, and the Looming MONETARY System COLLAPSE 
James Rickards on “Why The Fed Will NOT Taper Quantitative Easing”
Peter Schiff: “The party is coming to an end”.
JIM ROGERS – When the FED stops PRINTING FIAT CURRENCY the COLLAPSE will be here. PREPARE NOW
Fed decision Just idea of tapering caused huge ruckus
Background Articles and Videos
Milton Friedman – Abolish The Fed
Milton Friedman On John Maynard Keynes
Free to Choose Part 3: Anatomy of a Crisis (Featuring Milton Friedman)
Murray Rothbard – To Expand And Inflate
The Founding of the Federal Reserve | Murray N. Rothbard
The Origin of the Fed – Murray N. Rothbard
Murray Rothbard on Hyperinflation and Ending the Fed
Murray N. Rothbard on Milton Friedman (audio – removed noise) part 1/5
Keynes the Man: Hero or Villain? | Murray N. Rothbard
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve has decided against reducing its stimulus for the U.S. economy, saying it will continue to buy $85 billion a month in bonds because it thinks the economy still needs the support.
The Fed said in a statement Wednesday that it held off on tapering because it wants to see more conclusive evidence that the recovery will be sustained.
Stocks spiked after the Fed released the statement at the end of its two-day policy meeting.
In the statement, the Fed says that the economy is growing moderately and that some indicators of labor market conditions have shown improvement. But it noted that rising mortgage rates and government spending cuts are restraining growth.
The bond purchases are intended to keep long-term loan rates low to spur borrowing and spending.
The Fed also repeated that it plans to keep its key short-term interest rate near zero at least until unemployment falls to 6.5 percent, down from 7.3 percent last month. In the Fed’s most recent forecast, unemployment could reach that level as soon as late 2014.
Many thought the Fed would scale back its purchases. But interest rates have jumped since May, when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke first said the Fed might slow its bond buys later this year. But Bernanke cautioned that the reduction would hinge on the economy showing continued improvement.
In its statement, the Fed says that the rise in interest rates “could slow the pace of improvement in the economy and labor market” if they are sustained.
The Fed also lowered its economic growth forecasts for this year and next year slightly, likely reflecting its concerns about interest rates.
The statement was approved on a 9-1 vote. Esther George, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, dissented for the sixth time this year. She repeated her concerns that the bond purchases could fuel the risk of inflation and financial instability.
The decision to maintain its stimulus follows reports of sluggish economic growth. Employers slowed hiring this summer, and consumers spent more cautiously.
Super-low rates are credited with helping fuel a housing comeback, support economic growth, drive stocks to record highs and restore the wealth of many Americans. But the average rate on the 30-year mortgage has jumped more than a full percentage point since May and was 4.57 percent last week — just below the two-year high.
The unemployment rate is now 7.3 percent, the lowest since 2008. Yet the rate has dropped in large part because many people have stopped looking for work and are no longer counted as unemployed — not because hiring has accelerated. Inflation is running below the Fed’s 2 percent target.
The Fed meeting took place at a time of uncertainty about who will succeed Bernanke when his term ends in January. On Sunday, Lawrence Summers, who was considered the leading candidate, withdrew from consideration.
Summers’ withdrawal followed growing resistance from critics. His exit has opened the door for his chief rival, Janet Yellen, the Fed’s vice chair. If chosen by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would become the first woman to lead the Fed.
04/12/2007 – Legendary TV presenter, interviewer, producer and author, Sir David Frost talks about his remarkable career in television.
Sir David Frost has been described as a “one man conglomerate”. He hosted and co-created That Was the Week it Was, has produced countless television programmes, has written 15 books, produced 8 films, he is a lecturer, a publisher and an impresario.
But he is perhaps best known for being one of the best television interviewers in the world. His Nixon Interviews, according to the New York Times achieved “the largest audience for a news interview in history”. Peter Morgan’s play, Frost/Nixon achieved great success in London and Broadway this year.
He is the only person to have interviewed the last seven Presidents of the United States (Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Senior, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush) and the last seven Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom (Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown).
Sir David now presents Frost Over The World weekly for Al Jazeera English with a variety of newsmakers from Hamad Karzai, President Lula of Brazil, Tony Blair, Mikhail Gorbachev and Benazir Bhutto after the assassination attempt, to Gerry Adams, Madeleine Albright, Gen. Wesley Clark, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dame Helen Mirren and the first interview with Lewis Hamilton and continues to make Frost Tonight weekly for ITV. He is taking Through The Keyhole into its 21st year on the BBC, has recorded The Frost Years for Radio 4 and is Executive Producing a remake of the film, The Dam Busters with Universal and Peter Jackson.
50 Years of Frost – USA, February 2009
Look back at David Frost’s life
Remembering a TV Legend: Interviewer David Frost Dead at 74
China excerpt from: One on One with David Frost – George Bush: A President’s Story
Frost Over The World – George Clooney -18 Jan 08 – Hot Latest News
Frost over the World – George Clooney – 25 Jan 08 – Pt 3 – Hot Latest News
Frost Over The World – Henry Kissinger -18 Jan 08 – Hot Latest News
Frost over the World – Ron Howard – 17 Oct 08 – Hot Latest News
Frost over the World – Recep Tayyip Erdogan – 3 Apr 09 – Hot Latest News
Edward Lucas on ‘Frost over the World’ 2010
Sir David Frost Interviews Julian Assange- Wikileaks- AlJazeera Part 1of2
Sir David Frost Interviews Julian Assange- Wikileaks- AlJazeera Part 2of2
Sir David Frost Interview With Controversial Trader Alessio Rastani (Oct 2011)
The Frost Interview : Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (HD, 2012)
Paul McCartney - Entrevista a David Frost 2012 (Legendado) – Parte 1 de 3
Paul McCartney – Entrevista a David Frost 2012 (Legendado) – Parte 2 de 3
Paul McCartney – Entrevista a David Frost 2012 (Legendado) – Parte 3 de 3
Ron Paul Snr Advisor Doug Wead Interview with Frost – Mar 31 2012
David Frost – Commentator Piece from Last TW3 – ’63 – live
Frost On Satire 1-4
Frost On Satire 2-4
TW3 – That Was The Week That Was – shows up today’s UK TV dross
David Frost and Willie Rushton SHRED the then-Home Sec., on the Last TW3 – ’63 – live
Uploaded on Apr 23, 2011
That Was The Week That Was, also known as TW3, was a satirical television comedy programme that aired on BBC Television in 1962 and 1963.
Devised, produced and directed by Ned Sherrin, the programme was fronted by David Frost and cast members included improvising cartoonist Timothy Birdsall, political commentator Bernard Levin, and actors Lance Percival, who sidelined in topical calypsos, many improvised in response to suggestions from the audience, Kenneth Cope, Roy Kinnear, Willie Rushton (then known as ‘William’), Al Mancini, Robert Lang, David Kernan and Millicent Martin. The last two were also singers and the programme opened with a song – eponymously entitled That Was The Week That Was – sung by Martin to Ron Grainer’s theme tune and enumerating topics that had been in the past week’s news. Off-screen script-writers included John Albery, John Betjeman, John Bird, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Peter Cook, Roald Dahl, Richard Ingrams, Gerald Kaufman, Frank Muir, Denis Norden, Bill Oddie, Dennis Potter, Eric Sykes, Kenneth Tynan, Keith Waterhouse and others.
The programme was groundbreaking in its lampooning of the establishment. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was initially supportive of the programme, chastising the then Postmaster General Reginald Bevins (nominally in charge of broadcasting) for threatening to “do something about it”. During the Profumo affair, however, he became one of the programme’s chief targets for derision. After two successful seasons in 1962 and 1963, the programme did not return in 1964, as this was a General Election year and the BBC decided it would be unduly influential.
At the end of each episode, Frost would usually sign off with: “That was the week, that was.” At the end of the final programme he announced: “That was That Was The Week That Was…that was.”