National Security Agency Whistle-blower William Binney on U.S. Government Efforts to Control American People — Binney Should Be Awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom — Videos

Posted on May 3, 2015. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Books, Business, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), College, Communications, Computers, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Data Storage, Documentary, Drug Cartels, Economics, Education, Employment, Entertainment, External Hard Drives, Faith, Family, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Communications Commission, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Films, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, history, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Movies, National Security Agency (NSA), National Security Agency (NSA_, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Politics, Press, Psychology, Radio, Rants, Raves, Security, Speech, Systems, Tax Policy, Terrorism, Video, War, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

william binneybill-binney-we-are-now-a-police-stateBill-Binney07Former NSA technical director Binney sits in the witness stand of a parliamentary inquiry in Berlinbinney

NSA Whistle-blower William Binney: The Future of FREEDOM

A 36-year veteran of America’s Intelligence Community, William Binney resigned from his position as Director for Global Communications Intelligence (COMINT) at the National Security Agency (NSA) and blew the whistle, after discovering that his efforts to protect the privacy and security of Americans were being undermined by those above him in the chain of command.

The NSA data-monitoring program which Binney and his team had developed — codenamed ThinThread — was being aimed not at foreign targets as intended, but at Americans (codenamed as Stellar Wind); destroying privacy here and around the world. Binney voices his call to action for the billions of individuals whose rights are currently being violated.

William Binney speaks out in this feature-length interview with Tragedy and Hope’s Richard Grove, focused on the topic of the ever-growing Surveillance State in America.

On January 22, 2015: (Berlin, Germany) – The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is proud to announce that retired NSA Technical Director and GAP client, William “Bill” Binney, will accept the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award today in Berlin, Germany. The award is presented annually by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) to a professional who has taken a strong stand for ethics and integrity. http://whistleblower.org/press/nsa-wh…

NSA Whistle-blower: Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post

Former NSA Head Exposes Agency’s Real Crimes

Edward Snowden, v 1.0: NSA Whistleblower William Binney Tells All

“Where I see it going is toward a totalitarian state,” says William Binney. “You’ve got the NSA doing all this collecting of material on all of its citizens – that’s what the SS, the Gestapo, the Stasi, the KGB, and the NKVD did.”

Binney is talking about the collection of various forms of personal data on American citizens by the National Security Agency (NSA), where he worked for 30 years before quitting in 2001 from his high-placed post as technical leader for intelligence. A registered Republican for most of his life, Binney volunteered for military service during the Vietnam War, which led to his being hired by the NSA in the early ’70s.

In 2002 – long before the revelations of Edward Snowden rocked the world – Binney and several former colleagues went to Congress and the Department of Defense, asking that the NSA be investigated. Not only was the super-secretive agency wasting taxpayer dollars on ineffective programs, they argued, it was broadly violating constitutional guarantees to privacy and due process.

The government didn’t just turn a blind eye to the agency’s activities; it later accused the whistleblowers of leaking state secrets. A federal investigation of Binney – including an FBI search and seizure of his home and office computers that destroyed his consulting business – exonerated him on all charges.

“We are a clear example that [going through] the proper channels doesn’t work,” says Binney, who approves of Edward Snowden’s strategy of going straight to the media. At the same time, Binney criticizes Snowden’s leaking of documents not directly related to the NSA’s surveillance of American citizens and violation of constitutional rights. Binney believes that the NSA is vital to national security but has been become unmoored due to technological advances that vastly extend its capabilities and leadership that has no use for limits on government power. “They took that program designed [to prevent terrorist attacks] and used it to spy on American citizens and everyone else in the world,” flatly declares Binney (33:30).

Binney sat down with Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie to discuss “Trailblazer”, a data-collection program which was used on American citizens (1:00), why he thinks the NSA had the capability to stop the 9/11 attacks (7:00), his experience being raided by the FBI in 2007 (12:50), and why former President Gerald Ford, usually regarded as a hapless time-server, is one of his personal villians (41:25).

NSA Whistle-Blower Tells All: The Program | Op-Docs | The New York Times

William Binney: NSA had 9/11 foreknowledge

NSA Whistleblower Supports 9/11 Truth – William Binney and Richard Gage on GRTV

“The NSA Is Lying”: U.S. Government Has Copies of Most of Your Emails Says NSA Whistleblower

William Binney (U.S. intelligence official)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
William Binney
William Binney-IMG 9040.jpg

Binney at the Congress on Privacy & Surveillance (2013) of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
Born William Edward Binney
Pennsylvania, US
Education Pennsylvania State University(B.S., 1970)
Occupation Cryptanalyst-mathematician
Employer National Security Agency (NSA)
Known for Cryptography, SIGINT analysis,whistleblower
Awards Meritorious Civilian Service Award, Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage (2012)[1]

William Edward Binney[2] is a former highly placed intelligence official with the United States National Security Agency (NSA)[3] turned whistleblower who resigned on October 31, 2001, after more than 30 years with the agency. He was a high-profile critic of his former employers during the George W. Bush administration.

Binney continues to speak out during Barack Obama‘s presidency about the NSA’s data collection policies, and continues interviews in the media regarding his experiences and his views on communication intercepts by governmental agencies of American citizens. In a legal case, Binney has testified in an affidavit that the NSA is in deliberate violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Biography

Binney grew up in rural Pennsylvania and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the Pennsylvania State University in 1970. He said that he volunteered for the Army during the Vietnam era in order to select work that would interest him rather than be drafted and have no input. He was found to have strong aptitudes for mathematics, analysis, and code-breaking,[4] and served four years from 1965–1969 at the Army Security Agency before going to the NSA in 1970. Binney was a Russia specialist and worked in the operations side of intelligence, starting as an analyst and ending as Technical Director prior to becoming a geopolitical world Technical Director. In the 1990s, he co-founded a unit on automating signals intelligence with NSA research chief Dr. John Taggart.[5] Binney’s NSA career culminated as Technical Leader for intelligence in 2001. Having expertise in intelligence analysis, traffic analysis, systems analysis, knowledge management, and mathematics (including set theory, number theory, and probability),[6] Binney has been described as one of the best analysts in the NSA’s history.[7] After retiring from the NSA he founded “Entity Mapping, LLC”, a private intelligence agency together with fellow NSA whistleblower J. Kirk Wiebe to market their analysis program to government agencies. NSA continued to retaliate against them, ultimately preventing them from getting work, or causing contracts they had secured to be terminated abruptly.[8]

Whistleblowing

Binney sitting in the offices ofDemocracy Now! in New York City, prior to appearing with hosts Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, and guest Jacob Appelbaum. Photo taken byJacob Appelbaum.

In September 2002, he, along with J. Kirk Wiebe and Edward Loomis, asked the U.S. Defense Department to investigate the NSA for allegedly wasting “millions and millions of dollars” on Trailblazer, a system intended to analyze data carried on communications networks such as the Internet. Binney had been one of the inventors of an alternative system, ThinThread, which was shelved when Trailblazer was chosen instead. Binney has also been publicly critical of the NSA for spying on U.S. citizens, saying of its expanded surveillance after the September 11, 2001 attacks that “it’s better than anything that the KGB, the Stasi, or the Gestapo and SS ever had”[9] as well as noting Trailblazer’s ineffectiveness and unjustified high cost compared to the far less intrusive ThinThread.[10] He was furious that the NSA hadn’t uncovered the 9/11 plot and stated that intercepts it had collected but not analyzed likely would have garnered timely attention with his leaner more focused system.[7]

After he left the NSA in 2001, Binney was one of several people investigated as part of an inquiry into the 2005 New York Times exposé[11][12] on the agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program. Binney was cleared of wrongdoing after three interviews with FBI agents beginning in March 2007, but one morning in July 2007, a dozen agents armed with rifles appeared at his house, one of whom entered the bathroom and pointed his gun at Binney, still towelling off from a shower. In that raid, the FBI confiscated a desktop computer, disks, and personal and business records. The NSA revoked his security clearance, forcing him to close a business he ran with former colleagues at a loss of a reported $300,000 in annual income. In 2012, Binney and his co-plaintiffs went to federal court to get the items back. Binney spent more than $7,000 on legal fees.[13]

During interviews on Democracy Now! in April and May 2012[14] with elaboration in July 2012 at 2600’s hacker conference HOPE[4] and at DEF CON a couple weeks later,[15]Binney repeated estimates that the NSA (particularly its Stellar Wind project[16]) had intercepted 20 trillion communications “transactions” of Americans such as phone calls, emails, and other forms of data (but not including financial data). This includes most of the emails of US citizens. Binney disclosed in an affidavit for Jewel v. NSA[17] that the agency was “purposefully violating the Constitution”.[6] Binney also notes that he found out after retiring that the NSA was pursuing collect-it-all vs. targeted surveillance even before the 9/11 attacks.

Binney was invited as a witness by the NSA commission of the German Bundestag. On July 3, 2014 the Spiegel wrote, he said that the NSA wanted to have information about everything. In Binney’s view this is a totalitarian approach, which had previously been seen only in dictatorships.[18] Binney stated the goal was also to control people. Meanwhile, he said it is possible in principle to survey the whole population, abroad and in the US, which in his view contradicts the United States Constitution. In October 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the NSA began with its mass surveillance, he said. Therefore, he left the secret service shortly afterwards, after more than 30 years of employment. Binney mentioned that there were about 6000 analysts in the surveillance at NSA already during his tenure. According to him, everything changed after 9/11. The NSA used the attacks as a justification to start indiscriminate data collection. “This was a mistake. But they still do it”, he said. The secret service was saving the data as long as possible: “They do not discard anything. If they have anything they keep it.” Since then, the NSA has been saving collected data indefinitely. Binney said he deplored the NSA’s development of the past few years, to collect data not only on groups who are suspicious for criminal or terrorist activities. “We have moved away from the collection of these data to the collection of data of the 7 billion people on our planet.” Binney said he argued even then, to only pull relevant data from the cables. Access to the data was granted to departments of the government or the IRS.[18]

In August 2014 Binney was among the signatories of an open letter by the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity to German chancellor Angela Merkel in which they urged the Chancellor to be suspicious of U.S. intelligence regarding the alleged invasion of Russia in Eastern Ukraine.[19][20]

See also

The Future of Freedom: A Feature Interview with NSA Whistleblower William Binney

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Binney_%28U.S._intelligence_official%29

Background Articles and Videos

Presidential Medal of Freedom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Presidential Medal of Freedom
PresMedalFreedom.jpg
Awarded by
Seal of the President of the United States.svg
President of the United States
Type Medal
Awarded for “An especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”[1]
Status Active
Statistics
Established 1960
First awarded 1960
Distinct
recipients
unknown; an average of fewer than 11 per year since 1993 [2]
Precedence
Next (lower) Presidential Citizens Medal
Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction (ribbon).PNG Presidential Medal of Freedom (ribbon).png
Service ribbon of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
(left: Medal with Distinction)

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with the comparable Congressional Gold Medal, bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award of the United States. It recognizes those individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors”.[3] The award is not limited to U.S. citizens and, while it is a civilian award, it can also be awarded to military personnel and worn on the uniform.

It was established in 1963 and replaced the earlier Medal of Freedom that was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1945 to honor civilian service duringWorld War II.

History of the award

Similar in name to the Medal of Freedom,[3] but much closer in meaning and precedence to the Medal for Merit: the Presidential Medal of Freedom is currently the supreme civilian decoration in precedence, whereas the Medal of Freedom was inferior in precedence to the Medal for Merit; the Medal of Freedom was awarded by any of three Cabinet secretaries, whereas the Medal for Merit was awarded by the president, as is the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Another measure of the difference between these two similarly named but very distinct awards is their per-capita frequency of award: from 1946 to 1961 the average annual incidence of award of the Medal of Freedom was approximately 1 per every 86,500 adult U.S. citizens; from 1996 to 2011 the average annual incidence of award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom was approximately 1 per every 20,500,000 adult U.S. citizens (so on an annualized per capita basis, 240 Medals of Freedom have been awarded per one Presidential Medal of Freedom).[2][4]

President John F. Kennedy established the current decoration in 1963 through Executive Order 11085, with unique and distinctive insignia, vastly expanded purpose, and far higher prestige.[1] It was the first U.S. civilian neck decoration and, in the grade of Awarded With Distinction, is the only U.S. sash and star decoration (the Chief Commander degree of the Legion of Merit – which may only be awarded to foreign heads of state – is a star decoration, but without a sash). The Executive Order calls for the medal to be awarded annually on or around July 4, and at other convenient times as chosen by the president,[5] but it has not been awarded every year (e.g., 2001, 2010). Recipients are selected by the president, either on his own initiative or based on recommendations. The order establishing the medal also expanded the size and the responsibilities of the Distinguished Civilian Service Awards Board so it could serve as a major source of such recommendations.

The medal may be awarded to an individual more than once; John Kenneth Galbraith and Colin Powell each have received two awards; Ellsworth Bunker received both of his awards With Distinction. It may also be awarded posthumously; examples include Cesar Chavez, Paul “Bear” Bryant, Roberto Clemente, Jack Kemp, John F. Kennedy, Thurgood Marshall and Lyndon Johnson.

Insignia

Medal andaccoutrementsincluding undress ribbon, miniature, and lapel badge.

Graphical representation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction

The badge of the Presidential Medal of Freedom is in the form of a golden star with white enamel, with a red enamel pentagon behind it; the central disc bears thirteen gold stars on a blue enamel background (taken from the Great Seal of the United States) within a golden ring. Golden American bald eagles with spread wings stand between the points of the star. It is worn around the neck on a blue ribbon with white edge stripes.

A special grade of the medal, known as the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction,[6] has a larger execution of the same medal design worn as a star on the left chest along with a sash over the right shoulder (similar to how the insignia of a Grand Cross is worn), with its rosette (blue with white edge, bearing the central disc of the medal at its center) resting on the left hip. When the medal With Distinction is awarded, the star may be presented depending from a neck ribbon and can be identified by its larger size than the standard medal (compare size of medals in pictures below; President Reagan’s was awarded With Distinction).

Both medals may also be worn in miniature form on a ribbon on the left chest, with a silver American bald eagle with spread wings on the ribbon, or a golden American bald eagle for a medal awarded With Distinction. In addition, the medal is accompanied by a service ribbon for wear on military service uniform, a miniature medal pendant for wear on mess dress or civilian formal wear, and a lapel badge for wear on civilian clothes (all shown in the accompanying photograph of the full presentation set).

Recipients

Gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b Executive Order 11085, signed February 22, 1960; Federal Register 28 FR 1759, February 26, 1963
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b Senate.gov
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b Executive Order 9586, signed July 6, 1945; Federal Register 10 FR 8523, July 10, 1945
  4. Jump up^ Census.gov
  5. Jump up^ Presidential Medal of Freedom Award

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_Medal_of_Freedom

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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
EventID: 5255
Event: 30th Chaos Communication Congress [30c3] by the Chaos Computer Club [CCC]
Location: Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH); Am Dammtor; Marseiller Straße; 20355 Hamburg; Germany
Language: english

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

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.[1] The operation was approved by President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001.[2] 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.[3]

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.[1] 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.[4]

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.[4]

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”.[2] 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.[1]

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.[5] The article suggested that the otherwise dispatched Stellar Wind is actually an active program.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_Wind_%28code_name%29

PRISM

PRISM is a clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007.[1][2][3][Notes 1] PRISM is a government codename for a data collection effort known officially as US-984XN.[8][9] It is operated under the supervision of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[10] 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.”[11] The President’s Daily Brief, an all-source intelligence product, cited PRISM data as a source in 1,477 items in 2012.[12] 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.[13][14]

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.[15] Clapper issued a statement and “fact sheet”[16] to correct what he characterized as “significant misimpressions” in articles by The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers.[17]

History

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.[1] 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).[18][19][20][21] PRISM was authorized by an order of the FISC.[11] 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.[2][22] 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.[22]

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.[2][1] The leaked documents included 41 PowerPoint slides, four of which were published in news articles.[1][2] 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).[23] 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.”[1]

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.[11] 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.[2][11]

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.[1] 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.”[1]

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.[2][1]

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.[2][24] Statements of several of the companies named in the leaked documents were reported by TechCrunch and The Washington Post as follows:[25][26]

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.”[25]
  • Yahoo!: “Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”[25] “Of the hundreds of millions of users we serve, an infinitesimal percentage will ever be the subject of a government data collection directive.”[26]
  • 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.”[25]
  • 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.”[25] “[A]ny suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.”[26]
  • 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.”[27]
  • 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.”[25]

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.[13] 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.”[1] “[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.[26]

“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.[28]

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.[29]

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.[30] 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.”[31]

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.”[32] The other companies held discussions with national security personnel on how to make data available more efficiently and securely.[32] In some cases, these companies made modifications to their systems in support of the intelligence collection effort.[32] 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.[32] 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”[29] and the companies’ denials.[32]

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.[32] 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.[32] Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information.[32] Google does not provide a lockbox system, but instead transmits required data by hand delivery or secure FTP.[33]

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.[34]

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”.[35]

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.[36]

Response from United States government

Executive branch

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.[13] 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.”[37] 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.”[37] 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.”[37] 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.[38] In an NBC News interview, Clapper said he answered Senator Wyden’s question in the “least untruthful manner by saying no”.[39]

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.”[15]

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.”[40][10] 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).”[10]

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.”[10]

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.”[41] 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.”[41]

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.[42]

Legislative branch

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,[43] and others said that they had not been aware of the program.[44] 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,”[45]

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”.[46]
  • 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.”[47]
  • 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.”[48]

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?”[49]

Representative John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House of Representatives

  • June 11 “He’s a traitor”[50] (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.”[51] “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.”[51]

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,”[46]
  • 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,”[52]

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”.[46]

Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN)

  • June 10 “We have no idea when they [ FISA ] meet, we have no idea what their judgments are”,[53]

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,”[54]
  • 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.”[45]

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.”[52]

Judicial branch

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).”[10] 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.”[55] 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.”[55] 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.”[55] They do not need to specify which facilities or property that the targeting will be directed at.[55]

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.[55] 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.[55]

If the provider rejects the directive, the A.G. may request an order from FISC to enforce it.[55] A provider that fails to comply with FISC’s order can be punished with contempt of court.[55]

Finally, a provider can petition FISC to reject the directive.[55] 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.[55] 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.[55]

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.”[56]

Involvement of other countries

Australia

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.[57]

Canada

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.”[58]

Germany

Germany did not receive any raw PRISM data, according to a Reuters report.[59]

Israel

Israeli newspaper Calcalist discussed[60] the Business Insider article[61] about the possible involvement of technologies from two secretive Israeli companies in the PRISM program – Verint Systems and Narus.

New Zealand

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.”[62]

United Kingdom

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.[63][64]

Domestic response

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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,”[65] 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.”[66]

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.”[67] 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.”[67] 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.[68]

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.[69] 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.”[69] Pilkington and Watt concluded that the data-mining programs “played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots.”[69] 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.”[70] In addition, political commentator Bill O’Reilly criticized the government, saying that PRISM did not stop the Boston bombings.[71]

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;[72] 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.”[72][73] 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.[74]

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.[75]

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”.[76]

International response

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.[77][78] 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”.[79] The party-owned newspaper Liberation Daily described this surveillance like Nineteen Eighty-Four-style.[80] 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.”[81]

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, called PRISM “a violation of EU laws”.[82]

Protests at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

The German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Peter Schaar, condemned the program as “monstrous”.[83] 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.[84]

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”.[85]

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[86] saying, “Any data obtained by us from the United States involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards.”[86] 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.”[86][87] 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.[87] 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.”[82]

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.”[88]

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.”[89] 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.[90]

Russia has offered to consider an asylum request from Edward Snowden.[91]

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.”[92][93]

Related government Internet surveillance programs

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.”[94]

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.[95]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_%28surveillance_program%29

ThinThread

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] A consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was awarded a $280 million contract to develop Trailblazer in 2002.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ThinThread

Trailblazer

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.[1][2] 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.[3][4] 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”.[5]

Background

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.[4][3] Trailblazer was later linked to the NSA electronic surveillance program and the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.[3]

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.[6][7][8] SAIC had also hired a former NSA director to its management; Bobby Inman.[9] SAIC also participated in the concept definition phase of Trailblazer.[10][11]

Redacted version of the DoD Inspector General audit, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight and others. [12][5]

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.” [13]

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.”[5] The Director of NSA “nonconcurred” with several statements in the IG audit, and the report contains a discussion of those disagreements.[14]

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.[15] In 2006 the program was shut down,[3] after having cost billions of US Dollars.[16] Several anonymous NSA sources told Hosenball of Newsweek later on that the project was a “wasteful failure”.[17]

The new project replacing Trailblazer is called Turbulence.[3]

Whistleblowing

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.”[3]

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.[3][18][19] 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.[19] Drake gave info to DoD during its investigation of the matter.[19] Roark also went to her boss at the House committee, Porter Goss, about problems, but was rebuffed.[20] She also attempted to contact William Renquist, the Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time.[19]

Drake’s own boss, Maureen Baginski, the third-highest officer at NSA, quit partly over concerns about the legality of its behavior.[3]

In 2003, the NSA IG (not the DoD IG)[19] had declared Trailblazer an expensive failure.[21] It had cost more than $1 billion.[8][22][23]

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.[18] Mayer writes that it hastened the closure of Trailblazer, which was at the time in trouble from congress for being over budget.[3]

In November 2005, Drake contacted Siobhan Gorman, a reporter of The Baltimore Sun.[24][17][25] 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.[17]

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.[3][18] 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,[17][26][27] part of President Barack Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers and “leakers”.[24][17][28][18] 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.[3]

In June 2011, the ten original charges against Drake were dropped, instead he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.[5]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AXwwSq_me4

Boundless Informant

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.[1] It is described in an unclassified, For Official Use Only Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) memo published by The Guardian.[2] 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.[3][4]

History

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).[5][6][7]

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.[8]

Boundless Informant was first publicly revealed on June 8, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Guardian.[1][9] The newspaper identified its informant, at his request, as Edward Snowden, who worked at the NSA for the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.[10]

Technology

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.[11]

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.[12][13][14][15]

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.”[16]

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.[17][18]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundless_Informant

ECHELON

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[1] (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, referred to by a number of abbreviations, including AUSCANNZUKUS[1] and Five Eyes).[2][3] It has also been described as the only software system which controls the download and dissemination of the intercept of commercial satellite trunk communications.[4]

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.[5]

The system has been reported in a number of public sources.[6] Its capabilities and political implications were investigated by a committee of the European Parliament during 2000 and 2001 with a report published in 2001,[5] and by author James Bamford in his books on the National Security Agency of the United States.[4] 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.[5]

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.

Organization

UKUSA Community
Map of UKUSA Community countries with Ireland

Australia
Canada
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States of America

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.[5]

Capabilities

The ability to intercept communications depends on the medium used, be it radio, satellite, microwave, cellular or fiber-optic.[5] During World War II and through the 1950s, high frequency (“short wave”) radio was widely used for military and diplomatic communication,[7] and could be intercepted at great distances.[5] 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.”[5]

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.[8] 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%.[5] Even in less-developed parts of the world, communications satellites are used largely for point-to-multipoint applications, such as video.[9] 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.[5]

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.[5] 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.[5]

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.[10]

Controversy

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.[10] Examples alleged by the journalists include the gear-less wind turbine technology designed by the German firm Enercon[5][11] and the speech technology developed by the Belgian firm Lernout & Hauspie.[12] 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.[13][14]

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.[5]

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.

Hardware

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.[citation needed] 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.[15]

Name

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.”[5] 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.[16] 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.[17]

Ground stations

The 2001 European Parliamentary (EP) report[5] 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)[18]
  • 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[19]
    • deactivated in 2008[20]
  • 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)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON

Room 641A

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.[1][2]

Description

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.[1] 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[3] 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.”[4] 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.[2]

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.[1]

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.[5] 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”.

Lawsuit

Basic diagram of how the alleged wiretapping was accomplished. From EFF court filings[4]

More complicated diagram of how it allegedly worked. From EFF court filings.[3] See bottom of the file page for enlarged and rotated version.

Main article: Hepting v. AT&T

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.[6] A different case by the EFF was filed on September 18, 2008, titled Jewel v. NSA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A

List of government surveillance projects for the United States

United States

A top secret document leaked by Edward Snowden to The Guardian in 2013, originally due to be declassified on 12 April 2038.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_government_surveillance_projects

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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

Posted on March 30, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Comedy, Communications, Computers, Constitution, Demographics, Diasters, Economics, Employment, European History, Family, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Foreign Policy, government spending, history, Illegal, Immigration, Islam, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Macroeconomics, media, Microeconomics, National Security Agency (NSA_, People, Philosophy, Politics, Press, Programming, Psychology, Quotations, Radio, Rants, Raves, Security | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Background Articles and Videos

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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
EventID: 5255
Event: 30th Chaos Communication Congress [30c3] by the Chaos Computer Club [CCC]
Location: Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH); Am Dammtor; Marseiller Straße; 20355 Hamburg; Germany
Language: english

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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.

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Background Articles and Videos

Stellar Wind

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.[1] The operation was approved by President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001.[2] 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.[3]

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.[1] 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.[4]

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.[4]

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”.[2] 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.[1]

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.[5] The article suggested that the otherwise dispatched Stellar Wind is actually an active program.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_Wind_%28code_name%29

PRISM

PRISM is a clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007.[1][2][3][Notes 1] PRISM is a government codename for a data collection effort known officially as US-984XN.[8][9] It is operated under the supervision of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[10] 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.”[11] The President’s Daily Brief, an all-source intelligence product, cited PRISM data as a source in 1,477 items in 2012.[12] 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.[13][14]

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.[15] Clapper issued a statement and “fact sheet”[16] to correct what he characterized as “significant misimpressions” in articles by The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers.[17]

History

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.[1] 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).[18][19][20][21] PRISM was authorized by an order of the FISC.[11] 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.[2][22] 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.[22]

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.[2][1] The leaked documents included 41 PowerPoint slides, four of which were published in news articles.[1][2] 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).[23] 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.”[1]

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.[11] 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.[2][11]

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.[1] 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.”[1]

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.[2][1]

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.[2][24] Statements of several of the companies named in the leaked documents were reported by TechCrunch and The Washington Post as follows:[25][26]

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.”[25]
  • Yahoo!: “Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”[25] “Of the hundreds of millions of users we serve, an infinitesimal percentage will ever be the subject of a government data collection directive.”[26]
  • 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.”[25]
  • 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.”[25] “[A]ny suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.”[26]
  • 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.”[27]
  • 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.”[25]

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.[13] 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.”[1] “[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.[26]

“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.[28]

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.[29]

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.[30] 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.”[31]

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.”[32] The other companies held discussions with national security personnel on how to make data available more efficiently and securely.[32] In some cases, these companies made modifications to their systems in support of the intelligence collection effort.[32] 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.[32] 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”[29] and the companies’ denials.[32]

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.[32] 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.[32] Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information.[32] Google does not provide a lockbox system, but instead transmits required data by hand delivery or secure FTP.[33]

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.[34]

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”.[35]

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.[36]

Response from United States government

Executive branch

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.[13] 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.”[37] 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.”[37] 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.”[37] 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.[38] In an NBC News interview, Clapper said he answered Senator Wyden’s question in the “least untruthful manner by saying no”.[39]

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.”[15]

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.”[40][10] 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).”[10]

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.”[10]

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.”[41] 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.”[41]

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.[42]

Legislative branch

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,[43] and others said that they had not been aware of the program.[44] 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,”[45]

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”.[46]
  • 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.”[47]
  • 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.”[48]

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?”[49]

Representative John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House of Representatives

  • June 11 “He’s a traitor”[50] (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.”[51] “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.”[51]

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,”[46]
  • 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,”[52]

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”.[46]

Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN)

  • June 10 “We have no idea when they [ FISA ] meet, we have no idea what their judgments are”,[53]

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,”[54]
  • 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.”[45]

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.”[52]

Judicial branch

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).”[10] 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.”[55] 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.”[55] 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.”[55] They do not need to specify which facilities or property that the targeting will be directed at.[55]

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.[55] 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.[55]

If the provider rejects the directive, the A.G. may request an order from FISC to enforce it.[55] A provider that fails to comply with FISC’s order can be punished with contempt of court.[55]

Finally, a provider can petition FISC to reject the directive.[55] 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.[55] 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.[55]

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.”[56]

Involvement of other countries

Australia

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.[57]

Canada

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.”[58]

Germany

Germany did not receive any raw PRISM data, according to a Reuters report.[59]

Israel

Israeli newspaper Calcalist discussed[60] the Business Insider article[61] about the possible involvement of technologies from two secretive Israeli companies in the PRISM program – Verint Systems and Narus.

New Zealand

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.”[62]

United Kingdom

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.[63][64]

Domestic response

Unbalanced scales.svg
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,”[65] 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.”[66]

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.”[67] 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.”[67] 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.[68]

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.[69] 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.”[69] Pilkington and Watt concluded that the data-mining programs “played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots.”[69] 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.”[70] In addition, political commentator Bill O’Reilly criticized the government, saying that PRISM did not stop the Boston bombings.[71]

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;[72] 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.”[72][73] 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.[74]

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.[75]

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”.[76]

International response

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.[77][78] 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”.[79] The party-owned newspaper Liberation Daily described this surveillance like Nineteen Eighty-Four-style.[80] 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.”[81]

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, called PRISM “a violation of EU laws”.[82]

Protests at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

The German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Peter Schaar, condemned the program as “monstrous”.[83] 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.[84]

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”.[85]

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[86] saying, “Any data obtained by us from the United States involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards.”[86] 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.”[86][87] 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.[87] 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.”[82]

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.”[88]

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.”[89] 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.[90]

Russia has offered to consider an asylum request from Edward Snowden.[91]

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.”[92][93]

Related government Internet surveillance programs

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.”[94]

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.[95]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_%28surveillance_program%29

ThinThread

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] A consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was awarded a $280 million contract to develop Trailblazer in 2002.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ThinThread

Trailblazer

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.[1][2] 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.[3][4] 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”.[5]

Background

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.[4][3] Trailblazer was later linked to the NSA electronic surveillance program and the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.[3]

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.[6][7][8] SAIC had also hired a former NSA director to its management; Bobby Inman.[9] SAIC also participated in the concept definition phase of Trailblazer.[10][11]

Redacted version of the DoD Inspector General audit, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight and others. [12][5]

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.” [13]

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.”[5] The Director of NSA “nonconcurred” with several statements in the IG audit, and the report contains a discussion of those disagreements.[14]

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.[15] In 2006 the program was shut down,[3] after having cost billions of US Dollars.[16] Several anonymous NSA sources told Hosenball of Newsweek later on that the project was a “wasteful failure”.[17]

The new project replacing Trailblazer is called Turbulence.[3]

Whistleblowing

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.”[3]

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.[3][18][19] 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.[19] Drake gave info to DoD during its investigation of the matter.[19] Roark also went to her boss at the House committee, Porter Goss, about problems, but was rebuffed.[20] She also attempted to contact William Renquist, the Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time.[19]

Drake’s own boss, Maureen Baginski, the third-highest officer at NSA, quit partly over concerns about the legality of its behavior.[3]

In 2003, the NSA IG (not the DoD IG)[19] had declared Trailblazer an expensive failure.[21] It had cost more than $1 billion.[8][22][23]

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.[18] Mayer writes that it hastened the closure of Trailblazer, which was at the time in trouble from congress for being over budget.[3]

In November 2005, Drake contacted Siobhan Gorman, a reporter of The Baltimore Sun.[24][17][25] 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.[17]

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.[3][18] 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,[17][26][27] part of President Barack Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers and “leakers”.[24][17][28][18] 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.[3]

In June 2011, the ten original charges against Drake were dropped, instead he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.[5]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AXwwSq_me4

Boundless Informant

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.[1] It is described in an unclassified, For Official Use Only Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) memo published by The Guardian.[2] 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.[3][4]

History

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).[5][6][7]

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.[8]

Boundless Informant was first publicly revealed on June 8, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Guardian.[1][9] The newspaper identified its informant, at his request, as Edward Snowden, who worked at the NSA for the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.[10]

Technology

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.[11]

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.[12][13][14][15]

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.”[16]

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.[17][18]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundless_Informant

ECHELON

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[1] (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, referred to by a number of abbreviations, including AUSCANNZUKUS[1] and Five Eyes).[2][3] It has also been described as the only software system which controls the download and dissemination of the intercept of commercial satellite trunk communications.[4]

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.[5]

The system has been reported in a number of public sources.[6] Its capabilities and political implications were investigated by a committee of the European Parliament during 2000 and 2001 with a report published in 2001,[5] and by author James Bamford in his books on the National Security Agency of the United States.[4] 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.[5]

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.

Organization

UKUSA Community
Map of UKUSA Community countries with Ireland

Australia
Canada
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States of America

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.[5]

Capabilities

The ability to intercept communications depends on the medium used, be it radio, satellite, microwave, cellular or fiber-optic.[5] During World War II and through the 1950s, high frequency (“short wave”) radio was widely used for military and diplomatic communication,[7] and could be intercepted at great distances.[5] 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.”[5]

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.[8] 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%.[5] Even in less-developed parts of the world, communications satellites are used largely for point-to-multipoint applications, such as video.[9] 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.[5]

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.[5] 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.[5]

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.[10]

Controversy

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.[10] Examples alleged by the journalists include the gear-less wind turbine technology designed by the German firm Enercon[5][11] and the speech technology developed by the Belgian firm Lernout & Hauspie.[12] 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.[13][14]

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.[5]

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.

Hardware

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.[citation needed] 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.[15]

Name

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.”[5] 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.[16] 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.[17]

Ground stations

The 2001 European Parliamentary (EP) report[5] 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)[18]
  • 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[19]
    • deactivated in 2008[20]
  • 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)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON

Room 641A

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.[1][2]

Description

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.[1] 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[3] 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.”[4] 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.[2]

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.[1]

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.[5] 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”.

Lawsuit

Basic diagram of how the alleged wiretapping was accomplished. From EFF court filings[4]

More complicated diagram of how it allegedly worked. From EFF court filings.[3] See bottom of the file page for enlarged and rotated version.

Main article: Hepting v. AT&T

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.[6] A different case by the EFF was filed on September 18, 2008, titled Jewel v. NSA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A

List of government surveillance projects for the United States

United States

A top secret document leaked by Edward Snowden to The Guardian in 2013, originally due to be declassified on 12 April 2038.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_government_surveillance_projects

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Snowden Speaks At SXSW Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas — Videos

Posted on March 13, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Computers, Computers, Constitution, Crime, Economics, Education, External Hard Drives, Faith, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Freedom, Friends, government spending, history, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Rants, Raves, Security, Strategy, Talk Radio, Technology, Terrorism, Video, War, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

FULL: Edward Snowden and ACLU at SXSW

Snowden Appears Via Video Conference At SXSW Panel

 

 

Snowden’s first live: ‘Constitution being violated on massive scale’ (FULL VIDEO)

Speaking remotely from Russia on Monday, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told attendees at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas that encryption is still a powerful deterrent against government surveillance.

“Obama Is BIG BROTHER And He’s A LIAR!”

 Edward Snowden looms over Pulitzer Prizes

By DYLAN BYERS | 3/13/14 5:03 AM EDT Updated: 3/13/14 8:27 AM EDT

Next month, the trustees who oversee America’s most distinguished journalistic award could face their toughest decision in at least four decades.

The issue before the Pulitzer Prize Board: Does it honor reporting by The Washington Post and The Guardian based on stolen government documents that are arguably detrimental to the national security of the United States, and which were provided by a man who many see as a traitor? Or, does it pass over what is widely viewed as the single most significant story of the year — if not the decade — for the sake of playing it safe?

Continue Reading

The politically charged debate surrounding the National Security Agency’s widespread domestic surveillance program, and the man who revealed it, Edward Snowden, is certain to prompt intense discussion for the 19-member Board as it gathers to decide this year’s winners, according to past Board members, veteran journalists and media watchdogs. The debate echoes the historic decision in 1972, when the Board honored The New York Times for its reporting on Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers, they said.

(WATCH: Edward Snowden speaks at SXSW festival)

“This is an institutional question for them,” said Robert Kaiser, the veteran Washington Post journalist and a previous Pulitzer Prize finalist. “This is a very good argument to have, and there are members of that Board who are going to raise these questions and want to talk about them.”

The risks are manifold, and there is no easy answer: Honoring the NSA reporting — particularly in the coveted category of Public Service — would inevitably be perceived as a political act, with the Pulitzer committee invoking its prestige on behalf of one side in a bitter national argument. In effect, it would be a rebuttal to prominent establishment voices in both parties who say that Snowden’s revelations, and the decision by journalists to publish them, were the exact opposite of a public service. President Barack Obama has said that Snowden’s leaks “could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come.” Former Vice President Dick Cheney has called him “a traitor.” Snowden, who is living in Russia, is facing three felony charges in a criminal complaint filed by the Justice Department.

Yet to pass on the NSA story would be to risk giving the appearance of timidity, siding with the government over the journalists who are trying to hold it accountable and ignoring the most significant disclosure of state secrets in recent memory. It would also look like a willful decision to deny the obvious: No other event has had as dramatic an impact on national and international debates over state surveillance and individual privacy. Last December, in a move that Snowden later described as vindication, a federal district judge ruled that the NSA surveillance Snowden exposed most likely violates the Constitution. Another judge later found the surveillance lawful.

(Also on POLITICO: Snowden Inc.)

“The stories that came out of this completely changed the agenda on the discussion on privacy and the NSA,” said David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. “There’s an enormous public good in that, and it’s yet to be proven at all that somehow did great damage to national security.”

Two teams are being considered for their work on the NSA leaks, POLITICO has confirmed. One is made up of The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill, who published the first landmark report on the NSA’s collection of Verizon phone records, and have since played an integral role in building upon those revelations. The other is Poitras and Barton Gellman, who reported on the wide-ranging surveillance program known as “PRISM” for The Washington Post.

Here, too, the Board faces a challenge: In the eyes of privacy advocates, Greenwald’s work has been much more consequential in the larger arc of the Snowden story, and it was Greenwald who flew to Hong Kong to meet with Snowden and earn his trust. But Greenwald, a staunch anti-surveillance advocate with a brash, outsider’s persona, is not the type of journalist the Pulitzer Board has typically admired. Gellman, by contrast, with his serious and soft-spoken demeanor and decades in the business, comes straight out of Pulitzer central casting. But on what grounds could the Pulitzers recognize Gellman and not Greenwald?

(Also on POLITICO: Snowden: Hill, FISA need watchdog)

All of these questions will be on the table when the Pulitzer committee meets on April 10 and 11. The winners will be announced on Monday, April 14, at a 3 p.m. news conference at Columbia’s Journalism School.

Sig Gissler, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, and several board members declined to comment on the group’s approach to the NSA reporting, citing the confidentiality of the selection process. “Jurors sign oaths of confidentiality. We certainly do not comment on what is or is not entered or nominated,” Gissler said.

Both Greenwald and Gellman also declined to comment, as did the top editors at The Guardian and The Washington Post. Submissions in each category have already been considered by separate juries, which nominate three finalists to the Board. The Board then considers those nominations for the prizes; with a three-fourths vote, they can move a submission to a different category or recommend another work for consideration. The Guardian’s reporting was conducted through its U.S. outlet in New York, making it eligible for submission.

Several journalists believe that Snowden’s actions should have no bearing on the Pulitzer board’s considerations. It is the reporting that is being honored, not the source, they said.

(Also on POLITICO: Snowden still stirring the political pot)

“The question always is, ‘What was the best journalism produced in the past year?’ And it’s hard to think of a story that has had the impact of the NSA revelations,” said Rem Rieder, the media editor and columnist at USA Today . “These articles made public really important information that the public needs to know, and started a very important national debate over something that should not be decided unilaterally by the executive branch without public input or knowledge.”

Others have a harder time drawing such a definitive line. Michael Kinsley, the veteran political columnist and commentator, has wondered if there isn’t a dubious double standard in the way journalists are honored as heroes while their sources are portrayed as criminals. “If Snowden is guilty of a crime, why isn’t Bart Gellman guilty also?” he asked in an essay for The New Republic last year. Kinsley declined to comment for this piece.

Many of Snowden’s critics are often quick to paint Greenwald, Snowden’s staunchest public advocate, as an accomplice. James Clapper, President Obama’s director of national intelligence, even referred to “Snowden and his accomplices” while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee in January.

Whatever the Board’s intention, the decision to give an award to any NSA-related journalism would almost certainly be interpreted as a vindication of Snowden’s efforts, many said. That perceived declaration would surely invite blowback from those who see Snowden in a negative light. In January, after The New York Times editorial board called for clemency for Snowden, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) accused the paper’s editors of being “apologists for terrorists.”

The complications don’t end there. If the Board does decide to honor the reporting on the NSA, it will then have to wrestle with the fact that reporters from two publications were involved in the revelations. Though the Board has given dual awards in the past — the last occasion was in 2006 when The New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald split the Public Service award for their coverage of Hurricane Katrina — Greenwald’s role as an advocate could further impact the decision. The Brazil-based lawyer, who now works for Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media, has kept a high profile throughout the past nine months, publicly advocating on Snowden’s behalf — and against the U.S. government — in television appearances, news interviews, and on social media.

“This institution [the Pulitzers] has a tendency to take itself awfully seriously,” said Kaiser, who described Greenwald’s work as “causist” reporting. “Whether committed causes should get a Pulitzer Prize for any kind of reporting is an open question. They’ll have to decide how judgmental they need to be.”

Gellman’s more traditional handling of the NSA story may have more appeal to the board. Instead of jumping into the fray on a near-daily basis, fighting on Twitter and giving contentious cable news interviews, Gellman has produced a few comprehensive reports that sought to put new revelations in a greater context. His ties to The Washington Post have also given the NSA story the imprimatur of “old media” integrity, which the Board is said to value.

Finally, there is the issue of effort. Though Greenwald and Gellman have dismissed the suggestion that Snowden’s trove of NSA files simply fell into their laps, the Pulitzer Board could feel conflicted about giving an award to the recipients of stolen documents when other applicants may have dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting on, say, a local government issue. In several instances throughout its history, the Board has honored reporting based to a significant degree on the amount of effort and diligence shown by the reporters.

“The one wild card is the degree of difficulty question,” Rieder said. “Not to minimize the role of the reporters — it’s not just stenography. You have to sift through the information, present it clearly, explain why it matters, put it in context, etc. The real challenge would be if you had entries where reporters had to go to extraordinary lengths to pry out information of vital interest to the public, as opposed to having it turned over to them. If you had examples of great magnitude, that would make it complicated. That said, this was clearly the story of last year.”

“There’s a real question about whether this is reporting,” Kaiser said. “It might be a public service award, but it’s not a great reporting coup when a source comes to you and hands you this stuff.”

Both Greenwald and Gellman have adamantly dismissed the suggestion that they were merely stenographers for Snowden. Greenwald in particular traveled to Hong Kong and spent hours working with Snowden and earning his trust. Greenwald also continues to pore over the files in his possession, and says he has published just a small fraction of what Snowden gave him.

While the Board refuses to discuss next month’s awards, there are precedents that shed light on how that committee may decide to handle the NSA-related submissions.

In 1972, after what The Associated Press then described as “unprecedented debate,” the Pulitzer committee gave The New York Times the Public Service award for Neil Sheehan’s reporting on the Pentagon Papers, which he had received from former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg. At the time the award was given, Ellsberg was awaiting trial on charges of theft, which were later dropped.

Michael Gartner, the former NBC News president and Iowa newspaperman who spent 10 years on the Pulitzer Board, said he saw no substantive difference between the journalism that resulted from Ellsberg and Snowden’s stolen documents.

“I’m sure that there will be great debates over Snowden’s stuff, but really wasn’t that precedent set with the Pentagon Papers? The nature of the theft might be different, but isn’t the journalism the same — great stories produced from documents that were leaked by an employee of a private contractor?” Gartner wrote in an email. “I can make a distinction between Ellsberg and Snowden, if I have to, based on the nature of what they stole, but how can the board make a distinction between what was published then and what was published now? Reporting is reporting. If I were arguing for the Snowden stuff — and I would — that is the argument I would make.”

In 2006, the Pulitzer committee honored James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times for their reporting on the George W. Bush administration’s secret wiretapping program. That decision, too, was a subject of intense internal debate. President Bush had personally asked the Times not to publish the article, and the committee’s decision to honor Risen and Lichtblau’s report was seen as a public rebuke of Bush administration policies.

Last month, in a move that set the stage for April’s Pulitzer debate, Long Island University gave both the Greenwald and Gellman teams the George Polk Award for National Security Reporting.

John Darnton, the curator of the Polk Awards, said he received emails from critics who, seemingly unaware of the precedent set by the Pentagon Papers, blasted the group’s decision to honor reporting based on stolen government documents. One of those emails came from Accuracy In Media, the conservative watchdog.

In a lengthy email to POLITICO, Cliff Kincaid, director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, criticized Snowden and Greenwald for threatening national security.

“Political figures in both political parties agree that Snowden is a traitor. So what does that make his enablers in the media? They are certainly not journalists who deserve journalism prizes,” Kincaid wrote. “Journalism awards should not be given to recipients of stolen national security documents whose work has made America more vulnerable to terrorist attacks and its military personnel more likely to die at the hands of terrorists or enemy regimes.”

To date, no substantial evidence has emerged publicly that any of Greenwald or Gellman’s reporting has compromised America’s national security or military personnel, although intelligence officials have said they’ve detected changes in how groups like Al Qaeda communicate as a result of the broad controversy.

In the end, Darnton said the 10-member Polk panel hardly thought twice about the decision to bestow awards on Greenwald and Gellman.

“In the case of the NSA coverage, we began with a predisposition to seriously consider it because the repercussions were immense,” he explained. “There was a bit of discussion, but not much. The story itself is just so significant — there was no great dissent.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/edward-snowden-pulitzer-prize-washington-post-guardian-nsa-104608_Page2.html

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National Security Agency (NSA) — Thin Thread — Trailblazer — The Program — Stellar Wind: PRISM — NUCLEON — Mainstay — Marina — EVILOLIVE — FASCIA — XKeyscore — Co-Traveller — Photos — Slides — Videos

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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
EventID: 5255
Event: 30th Chaos Communication Congress [30c3] by the Chaos Computer Club [CCC]
Location: Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH); Am Dammtor; Marseiller Straße; 20355 Hamburg; Germany
Language: english

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

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.[1] The operation was approved by President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001.[2] 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.[3]

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.[1] 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.[4]

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.[4]

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”.[2] 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.[1]

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.[5] The article suggested that the otherwise dispatched Stellar Wind is actually an active program.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_Wind_%28code_name%29

PRISM

PRISM is a clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007.[1][2][3][Notes 1] PRISM is a government codename for a data collection effort known officially as US-984XN.[8][9] It is operated under the supervision of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[10] 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.”[11] The President’s Daily Brief, an all-source intelligence product, cited PRISM data as a source in 1,477 items in 2012.[12] 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.[13][14]

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.[15] Clapper issued a statement and “fact sheet”[16] to correct what he characterized as “significant misimpressions” in articles by The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers.[17]

History

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.[1] 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).[18][19][20][21] PRISM was authorized by an order of the FISC.[11] 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.[2][22] 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.[22]

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.[2][1] The leaked documents included 41 PowerPoint slides, four of which were published in news articles.[1][2] 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).[23] 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.”[1]

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.[11] 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.[2][11]

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.[1] 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.”[1]

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.[2][1]

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.[2][24] Statements of several of the companies named in the leaked documents were reported by TechCrunch and The Washington Post as follows:[25][26]

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.”[25]
  • Yahoo!: “Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”[25] “Of the hundreds of millions of users we serve, an infinitesimal percentage will ever be the subject of a government data collection directive.”[26]
  • 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.”[25]
  • 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.”[25] “[A]ny suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.”[26]
  • 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.”[27]
  • 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.”[25]

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.[13] 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.”[1] “[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.[26]

“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.[28]

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.[29]

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.[30] 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.”[31]

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.”[32] The other companies held discussions with national security personnel on how to make data available more efficiently and securely.[32] In some cases, these companies made modifications to their systems in support of the intelligence collection effort.[32] 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.[32] 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”[29] and the companies’ denials.[32]

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.[32] 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.[32] Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information.[32] Google does not provide a lockbox system, but instead transmits required data by hand delivery or secure FTP.[33]

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.[34]

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”.[35]

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.[36]

Response from United States government

Executive branch

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.[13] 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.”[37] 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.”[37] 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.”[37] 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.[38] In an NBC News interview, Clapper said he answered Senator Wyden’s question in the “least untruthful manner by saying no”.[39]

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.”[15]

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.”[40][10] 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).”[10]

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.”[10]

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.”[41] 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.”[41]

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.[42]

Legislative branch

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,[43] and others said that they had not been aware of the program.[44] 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,”[45]

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”.[46]
  • 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.”[47]
  • 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.”[48]

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?”[49]

Representative John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House of Representatives

  • June 11 “He’s a traitor”[50] (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.”[51] “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.”[51]

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,”[46]
  • 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,”[52]

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”.[46]

Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN)

  • June 10 “We have no idea when they [ FISA ] meet, we have no idea what their judgments are”,[53]

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,”[54]
  • 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.”[45]

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.”[52]

Judicial branch

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).”[10] 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.”[55] 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.”[55] 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.”[55] They do not need to specify which facilities or property that the targeting will be directed at.[55]

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.[55] 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.[55]

If the provider rejects the directive, the A.G. may request an order from FISC to enforce it.[55] A provider that fails to comply with FISC’s order can be punished with contempt of court.[55]

Finally, a provider can petition FISC to reject the directive.[55] 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.[55] 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.[55]

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.”[56]

Involvement of other countries

Australia

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.[57]

Canada

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.”[58]

Germany

Germany did not receive any raw PRISM data, according to a Reuters report.[59]

Israel

Israeli newspaper Calcalist discussed[60] the Business Insider article[61] about the possible involvement of technologies from two secretive Israeli companies in the PRISM program – Verint Systems and Narus.

New Zealand

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.”[62]

United Kingdom

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.[63][64]

Domestic response

Unbalanced scales.svg
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,”[65] 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.”[66]

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.”[67] 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.”[67] 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.[68]

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.[69] 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.”[69] Pilkington and Watt concluded that the data-mining programs “played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots.”[69] 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.”[70] In addition, political commentator Bill O’Reilly criticized the government, saying that PRISM did not stop the Boston bombings.[71]

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;[72] 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.”[72][73] 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.[74]

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.[75]

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”.[76]

International response

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.[77][78] 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”.[79] The party-owned newspaper Liberation Daily described this surveillance like Nineteen Eighty-Four-style.[80] 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.”[81]

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, called PRISM “a violation of EU laws”.[82]

Protests at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

The German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Peter Schaar, condemned the program as “monstrous”.[83] 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.[84]

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”.[85]

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[86] saying, “Any data obtained by us from the United States involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards.”[86] 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.”[86][87] 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.[87] 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.”[82]

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.”[88]

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.”[89] 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.[90]

Russia has offered to consider an asylum request from Edward Snowden.[91]

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.”[92][93]

Related government Internet surveillance programs

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.”[94]

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.[95]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_%28surveillance_program%29

ThinThread

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] A consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was awarded a $280 million contract to develop Trailblazer in 2002.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ThinThread

Trailblazer

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.[1][2] 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.[3][4] 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”.[5]

Background

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.[4][3] Trailblazer was later linked to the NSA electronic surveillance program and the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.[3]

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.[6][7][8] SAIC had also hired a former NSA director to its management; Bobby Inman.[9] SAIC also participated in the concept definition phase of Trailblazer.[10][11]

Redacted version of the DoD Inspector General audit, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight and others. [12][5]

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.” [13]

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.”[5] The Director of NSA “nonconcurred” with several statements in the IG audit, and the report contains a discussion of those disagreements.[14]

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.[15] In 2006 the program was shut down,[3] after having cost billions of US Dollars.[16] Several anonymous NSA sources told Hosenball of Newsweek later on that the project was a “wasteful failure”.[17]

The new project replacing Trailblazer is called Turbulence.[3]

Whistleblowing

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.”[3]

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.[3][18][19] 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.[19] Drake gave info to DoD during its investigation of the matter.[19] Roark also went to her boss at the House committee, Porter Goss, about problems, but was rebuffed.[20] She also attempted to contact William Renquist, the Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time.[19]

Drake’s own boss, Maureen Baginski, the third-highest officer at NSA, quit partly over concerns about the legality of its behavior.[3]

In 2003, the NSA IG (not the DoD IG)[19] had declared Trailblazer an expensive failure.[21] It had cost more than $1 billion.[8][22][23]

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.[18] Mayer writes that it hastened the closure of Trailblazer, which was at the time in trouble from congress for being over budget.[3]

In November 2005, Drake contacted Siobhan Gorman, a reporter of The Baltimore Sun.[24][17][25] 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.[17]

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.[3][18] 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,[17][26][27] part of President Barack Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers and “leakers”.[24][17][28][18] 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.[3]

In June 2011, the ten original charges against Drake were dropped, instead he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.[5]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AXwwSq_me4

Boundless Informant

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.[1] It is described in an unclassified, For Official Use Only Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) memo published by The Guardian.[2] 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.[3][4]

History

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).[5][6][7]

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.[8]

Boundless Informant was first publicly revealed on June 8, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Guardian.[1][9] The newspaper identified its informant, at his request, as Edward Snowden, who worked at the NSA for the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.[10]

Technology

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.[11]

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.[12][13][14][15]

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.”[16]

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.[17][18]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundless_Informant

ECHELON

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[1] (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, referred to by a number of abbreviations, including AUSCANNZUKUS[1] and Five Eyes).[2][3] It has also been described as the only software system which controls the download and dissemination of the intercept of commercial satellite trunk communications.[4]

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.[5]

The system has been reported in a number of public sources.[6] Its capabilities and political implications were investigated by a committee of the European Parliament during 2000 and 2001 with a report published in 2001,[5] and by author James Bamford in his books on the National Security Agency of the United States.[4] 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.[5]

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.

Organization

UKUSA Community
Map of UKUSA Community countries with Ireland

Australia
Canada
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States of America

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.[5]

Capabilities

The ability to intercept communications depends on the medium used, be it radio, satellite, microwave, cellular or fiber-optic.[5] During World War II and through the 1950s, high frequency (“short wave”) radio was widely used for military and diplomatic communication,[7] and could be intercepted at great distances.[5] 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.”[5]

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.[8] 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%.[5] Even in less-developed parts of the world, communications satellites are used largely for point-to-multipoint applications, such as video.[9] 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.[5]

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.[5] 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.[5]

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.[10]

Controversy

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.[10] Examples alleged by the journalists include the gear-less wind turbine technology designed by the German firm Enercon[5][11] and the speech technology developed by the Belgian firm Lernout & Hauspie.[12] 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.[13][14]

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.[5]

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.

Hardware

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.[citation needed] 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.[15]

Name

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.”[5] 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.[16] 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.[17]

Ground stations

The 2001 European Parliamentary (EP) report[5] 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)[18]
  • 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.)
  • Bad Aibling Station (Bad Aibling, Germany – U.S.)
    • relocated to Griesheim in 2004[19]
    • deactivated in 2008[20]
  • 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)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON

Room 641A

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.[1][2]

Description

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.[1] 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[3] 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.”[4] 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.[2]

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.[1]

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.[5] 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”.

Lawsuit

Basic diagram of how the alleged wiretapping was accomplished. From EFF court filings[4]

More complicated diagram of how it allegedly worked. From EFF court filings.[3] See bottom of the file page for enlarged and rotated version.

Main article: Hepting v. AT&T

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.[6] A different case by the EFF was filed on September 18, 2008, titled Jewel v. NSA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A

List of government surveillance projects for the United States

United States

A top secret document leaked by Edward Snowden to The Guardian in 2013, originally due to be declassified on 12 April 2038.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_government_surveillance_projects

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James Bamford — The National Security Agency (NSA) — Videos

Posted on July 5, 2013. Filed under: American History, Banking, Blogroll, Business, Communications, Constitution, Economics, Education, European History, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, government, government spending, history, Illegal, Investments, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Macroeconomics, media, Monetary Policy, Money, People, Philosophy, Politics, Regulations, Security, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Video, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

JAMES BAMFORD

shadowfactory

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Posted on November 20, 2012. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, Business, Communications, Computers, Economics, Education, Employment, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, government, government spending, history, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Politics, Psychology, Video, War, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Petraeus – Benghazi Scandal: Best Explanation out there today!!! Glenn Beck 11.12.12

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[youtubr=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1Eo3sP1gn4&feature=related]

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Top GOP lawmaker pressures Clapper to explain altered talking points on Libya

By Catherine Herridge

“…The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is demanding an immediate explanation from the nation’s top intelligence official, James Clapper, for what the chairman says were inconsistent statements to Congress and to the public on who was behind changes to the CIA talking points on the Libya consulate attack in September.

Critics say the Obama administration initially minimized the role of terrorism despite evidence of a coordinated attack on the consulate in Benghazi. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the assault.

Testimony last week on Capitol Hill raised additional questions about the administration’s changing story on the attack, putting new pressure on Clapper, the director of national intelligence.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the Intelligence Committee chairman, “looks forward to discussing this new explanation with Director Clapper as soon as possible to understand how (his office) reached this conclusion and why leaders of the intelligence community testified late last week that they were unaware of who changed the talking points,” Rogers spokeswoman Susan Phalen told Fox News.

Fox News was told by one source that Clapper, in a classified session on Thursday, was “unequivocal, and without hesitation insisted the changes were made outside the Intelligence community. He didn’t know who but was emphatic he would find out.”

A day later, former CIA Director David Petraeus also stated changes were made after his agency drafted the talking points, adding no one imagined how changing the language would end up being such a big deal.

But late Monday night, Clapper spokesman Shawn Turner said in a series of briefings for reporters that the intelligence community was solely responsible for “substantive” changes to the talking points, which were finalized on Sept. 15 – four days after the attack and one day before U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s controversial appearance on five Sunday talk shows, when she described the attack as spontaneous violence that grew out of protests of an anti-Islam film.

Along with changing “al Qaeda” to “extremists,” the new talking points timeline stated the FBI apparently wanted a change in the language from the U.S. “knew” Islamic extremists were involved to “there are indications.”

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News the timeline reinforces his view the changes were driven by security considerations, not politics.

“To anyone who was listening, it was clear from General Petraeus and other intelligence officials who testified last week that the talking points were amended to protect classified sources of information and were not subject to any political spin by the White House or ambassador to the U.N.,” Schiff said.

John Bolton, a U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in the George W. Bush administration, said Clapper must now explain the genesis of the administration’s initial statements, which blamed a video for sparking a demonstration that was hijacked by terrorists, when the available and immediate raw intelligence strongly supported a pre-meditated terrorist attack.

“I think Clapper has to say publicly whether he advocated the YouTube video theory, whether he pressed it on the White House and others in the intelligence community,” Bolton told Fox News. “And if so, did he do that at the direction of the White House?”

The new timeline on the talking points – released by Clapper’s office – does not address another inconsistency, first reported by the Daily Beast. After the Sept. 11 attack, diplomatic security agents were evacuated from the Benghazi consulate to Ramstein Air Base in Germany. By Sept. 14, two days before Rice’s Sunday show appearances and one day before the talking points were finalized, the FBI had learned from consulate agents that there was no demonstration when the attack unfolded. This single data point appeared to gut the administration’s anti-video protest theory.

Fox News asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for specifics on the timeline, as well as for comment on Rep. Rogers’ claims, but calls and emails were not immediately returned.

A Capitol Hill source who asked not to be identified, given the sensitive nature of the topic, noted this seemed to be the second time Clapper’s office had “fallen on its sword” in the Benghazi matter. On Sept. 28, in a statement released late in the day, spokesman Turner explained their “evolving” understand of the assault. Turner said the initial view, that the attack spontaneously grew out of a protest of the anti-Islam video, was now abandoned, and the evidence supported a “deliberate and organized terrorist assault.” …”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/20/top-gop-lawmaker-pressures-clapper-to-explain-altered-talking-points-on-libya/#ixzz2CsyuIp91

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BmHHKOf_T4

Topic: James Clapper

CBS: DNI Changed Talking Points

Alana Goodman

“…CBS reports that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence removed references to terrorism from the CIA talking points before distribution:

CBS News has learned that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) cut specific references to “al Qaeda” and “terrorism” from the unclassified talking points given to Ambassador Susan Rice on the Benghazi consulate attack – with the agreement of the CIA and FBI. The White House or State Department did not make those changes. …

However, an intelligence source tells CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan the links to al Qaeda were deemed too “tenuous” to make public, because there was not strong confidence in the person providing the intelligence. CIA Director David Petraeus, however, told Congress he agreed to release the information — the reference to al Qaeda — in an early draft of the talking points, which were also distributed to select lawmakers. …

The head of the DNI is James Clapper, an Obama appointee. He ultimately did review the points, before they were given to Ambassador Rice and members of the House intelligence committee on Sept. 14. They were compiled the day before.

Brennan says her source wouldn’t confirm who in the agency suggested the final edits which were signed off on by all intelligence agencies.

First, the CIA answers to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, so the whole notion that the CIA “agreed” to the changes is moot. They “agreed” to the changes because they were told to by the ODNI. Second, Clapper is clearly sprinting from this — the responsibility for the changes is pinned vaguely on the “Office of the Director of National Intelligence,” without much mention of him. The article actually leaves open the possibility that somebody else within the ODNI changed the talking points without running the changes by Clapper first, as if that’s believable. …”

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/topic/james-clapper/

Scapegoating James Clapper Won’t End Benghazi Scandal

“…Cover-Up: Intel chief James Clapper taking blame for dishonest talking points won’t cauterize the Benghazi scandal. The country was still lied to about terrorists killing four Americans for the sake of Obama’s re-election.

As Benghazigate became a major pre-election embarrassment for the president, a number of commentators quipped to Obama defenders who minimized its significance that, unlike in Libya on Sept. 11, “nobody died in Watergate.”

Watergate is an apt comparison in some ways. The whole underlying purpose of the 1972 attempted bugging of the Democratic National Committee headquarters was to get President Nixon re-elected. The whole underlying purpose of lying about the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith, and ex-Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, was to get President Obama re-elected.

In Watergate, the objective was to collect information that could persuade people not to vote for the Democratic nominee for president.

In Benghazigate, the objective was to suppress the truth that al-Qaida had organized a Sept. 11 attack with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades on a vulnerable diplomatic post in Libya so that the president’s convention speech claim that “al-Qaida is on the path to defeat” would not be exposed as false.

In Watergate, the fiction was that, as Nixon put it, “no one in the White House staff, no one in this administration, presently employed, was involved in this very bizarre incident.”

In Benghazigate, the fiction was, as America’s United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice claimed on Fox News two months ago (and in four similar TV appearances), that “the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack, that what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction . .. as a consequence of the video” insulting Mohammad.

CBS News last week reported that it was the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, headed by Clapper, that “cut specific references to ‘al-Qaida’ and ‘terrorism’ from the unclassified talking points given” to Rice “with the agreement of the CIA and FBI.”

CBS assures us that “the White House or State Department did not make those changes.” But the DNI was established in 2005 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission to centralize authority over intelligence, to “manage the national intelligence program and oversee the agencies that contribute to it.”

Clapper is the president’s man . For all practical purposes, he is White House staff, as much as the national security adviser. He attends Oval Office meetings and discerns the wishes of the president and senior staff.

As the DNI told CBS News, “The intelligence community assessed from the very beginning that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.” And as CBS noted, “That information was shared at a classified level — which Rice, as a member of President Obama’s Cabinet, would have been privy to.”

The upshot: Clapper being the fall guy shortly after Obama’s re-election ends Benghazigate about as much as G. Gordon Liddy going down shortly after Nixon’s re-election ended Watergate.

Read More At IBD: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/112012-634215-blaming-intel-chief-wont-end-benghazigate.htm#ixzz2CsTNGab5

Benghazigate: Obama’s Many Lies About Libya

By Daniel Greenfield

“…In his interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Obama claimed to take offense at, “The suggestion that in any way, we haven’t tried to make sure that the American people knew as the information was coming in what we believed.”

That sentence is not only incredibly convoluted, shifting the blame not just to the intel, but to the perception of that intel held by some vague group of “We’s” who may include anyone in the administration. But it’s a ridiculous finger wagging moment from a man who repeatedly blamed the video for a heavily armed assault on an American consulate.

The man who only told the American people about the Libyan War several days after it began, who has lied about Fast and Furious, who even in the language of his own media supporters runs the least transparent administration since King George III has no right to act offended when he is challenged for putting out gross misinformation and locking up a filmmaker based on that misinformation.

The feigned self-righteousness is Obama’s version of Clinton’s “finger-wagging” moment over accusations of improprieties.

Libya is to Obama as Monica was to Clinton.

1. Obama lied about the cause of the war in the form of a supposed massacre of 70,000 people that threatened Benghazi.

2. Obama lied about the purpose of the war, claiming that the goal was not regime change. He lied about this to the UN and to the American people.

3. Obama lied about our level of collaboration with the rebels, which was not supposed to exist at all, but involved coordinating their movements and attack plans

4. Obama lied about the duration of the war and about ending American participation in the war shortly after it began

5. Obama lied about having American personnel on the ground during the war, as reported by the New York Times

With all those lies, his show of self-righteousness is pathetically misplaced.

The official fallback story is that Obama had “bad intel” on what happened in Benghazi. This “bad intel” somehow caused Obama and his officials to continue spouting nonsense about a video and a protest, at a time when even those of us in the cheap seats were accurately reporting that this had been a planned attack. So either our “intel” is better than the CIA’s, or the problem wasn’t with the intel. Not when one of the first reports had already nailed Ansar Al-Sharia as the perpetrators and everyone knew that heavy weaponry, completely inconsistent with a spontaneous protest, had been used against the consulate.

But reporters are now carefully phrasing leading questions for Obama and his cronies, complete with “bad intel”. These questions wouldn’t be allowed in court, but they’re fine for the professional class of journalists who include the alibi as a premise in their questions.

A classic example of this travesty took place on Morning Joe. “Scarborough aided and abetted him by asking, “Was it the intel community giving you bad information early on because the stories keep changing?”

The real question here is why the stories have kept changing. Scarborough tries to cover for Obama by blaming the bad intel for the obvious problem of the changing stories. But there is no evidence of bad intel. There is evidence of changing stories. And changing stories mean either incompetence or deceit.

Former National Security Adviser Bud McFarlane has said, “To have known what he had available, to have known that Americans were under fire, and to have done nothing, is dereliction of duty that I have never seen in a Commander in Chief from a president of any party. ” …”

http://frontpagemag.com/2012/dgreenfield/benghazigate-obamas-many-lies-about-libya/

McClatchy: Obama admin changed story on Benghazi to blame video 3 days after attack

posted at 8:41 am on October 19, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

“…Barack Obama insisted in the presidential debate on Tuesday night that he had called the Benghazi attack an “act of terror” in his Rose Garden address the next day. Fact-checkers called shenanigans on that claim, but McClatchy notes that Obama did call it an “act of terror” the next day at campaign stops in Colorado and Nevada on September 13th. On the same day, the State Department refused to link the Benghazi attack to the YouTube video that media outlets like the New York Times and AFP had. Hillary Clinton called it a terrorist attack that evening.

However, the next day, things began to change, as McClatchy’s Hannah Allam and Jonathan S. Landay report in their in-depth look at how the narrative shifted toward the YouTube video instead of an al-Qaeda attack:

With images of besieged U.S. missions in the Middle East still leading the evening news, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney became the first official to back away from the earlier declaration that the Benghazi assault was a “complex attack” by extremists. Instead, Carney told reporters, authorities “have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack.” He added that there was no reason to think that the Benghazi attack wasn’t related to the video, given that the clip had sparked protests in many Muslim cities.

“The unrest that we’ve seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims, find offensive,” Carney said.

When pressed by reporters who pointed out evidence that the violence in Benghazi was preplanned, Carney said that “news reports” had speculated about the motive. He noted again that “the unrest around the region has been in response to this video.”

Carney then launched into remarks that read like talking points in defense of the U.S. decision to intervene in last year’s uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi: that post-Gadhafi Libya, he said, is “one of the more pro-American countries in the region,” that it’s led by a new government “that has just come out of a revolution,” and that the lack of security capabilities there “is not necessarily reflective of anything except for the remarkable transformation that’s been going on in the region.”

By that Sunday, Sept. 16, the evolution of the narrative was complete when Rice, the U.N. ambassador, showed up on all five major morning talk shows to make the most direct public connection yet between the Benghazi assault and the incendiary video.

While she couched her remarks in caveats – “based on the information we have at present,” for example – Rice clearly intended to make the link before a large American audience.

Why did the story change? State had watched the attack unfold in real time at Foggy Bottom through its security video system, a fact that got revealed at the House Oversight Committee hearings. That’s why State insisted that they had never considered this a “spontaneous demonstration” that “spun out of control,” as Rice insisted on five Sunday talk shows and as Carney tried to claim two days earlier. Similarly, the intel community has leaked on more than one occasion that while the data they had was conflicting, they didn’t conclude it was a demonstration that got out of hand — and several days later, that should have been even more clear.

Allam and Landy hit the nail on the head in their connection of this to Obama’s intervention to decapitate the Qaddafi regime. The rise of radical Islamist terrorist groups in eastern Libya, including al-Qaeda, comes as a direct result of that intervention. The central government in Tripoli has no control now over the Benghazi region. Furthermore, everyone knew before the intervention that AQ and other radicals operated in the eastern part of the country, and a regime decapitation would set those elements free.

The cover story was designed to mislead the American public so that they would not connect those dots. That intervention in Libya, coming with no effort at all to control the outcome on the ground, has made us much less safe, especially in that part of the world.

By the way, as a measure of how little control Tripoli now has over AQ’s new stomping grounds in the east, the New York Times reports that the prime “suspect” in the Benghazi terrorist attack doesn’t even plan to go into hiding. In fact, he’s doing media sessions:

Witnesses and the authorities have called Ahmed Abu Khattala one of the ringleaders of the Sept. 11 attack on the American diplomatic mission here. But just days after President Obama reasserted his vow to bring those responsible to justice, Mr. Abu Khattala spent two leisurely hours on Thursday evening at a crowded luxury hotel, sipping a strawberry frappe on a patio and scoffing at the threats coming from the American and Libyan governments.

Libya’s fledgling national army is a “national chicken,” Mr. Abu Khattala said, using an Arabic rhyme. Asked who should take responsibility for apprehending the mission’s attackers, he smirked at the idea that the weak Libyan government could possibly do it. And he accused the leaders of the United States of “playing with the emotions of the American people” and “using the consulate attack just to gather votes for their elections.”

Mr. Abu Khattala’s defiance — no authority has even questioned him about the attack, he said, and he has no plans to go into hiding — offered insight into the shadowy landscape of the self-formed militias that have come to constitute the only source of social order in Libya since the fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

A few, like the militia group Ansar al-Shariah that is linked to Mr. Abu Khattala and that officials in Washington and Tripoli agree was behind the attack, have embraced an extremist ideology hostile to the West and nursed ambitions to extend it over Libya. But also troubling to the United States is the evident tolerance shown by other militias allied with the government, which have so far declined to take any action against suspects in the Benghazi attack. …”

http://hotair.com/archives/2012/10/19/mcclatchy-obama-admin-changed-story-on-benghazi-to-blame-video-3-days-after-attack/

Attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi

‘…On September 11, 2012 in Libya, a heavily armed group executed an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, also referred to as the Battle of Benghazi.[4][5][6][7] The attack began at night in a U.S. diplomatic compound for the consulate, and ended early the next day at another diplomatic compound nearby where the U.S. intelligence was posted. Those killed included U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other members of his diplomatic mission, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith and U.S. embassy security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Two other Americans and seven Libyans were also injured. The Benghazi attack was strongly condemned by the governments of Libya, the United States and other countries around the world.

There were peaceful demonstrations on September 12 in Benghazi and Tripoli condemning the attack; people held such signs as “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans,” “Benghazi is against terrorism,” and other signs apologizing to Americans for the actions in their name and in the name of Muslims. On September 21, about 30,000 Libyans protested against armed militias in their country including Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist militia alleged to have played a role in the attack, and stormed several militia headquarters, forcing the occupants to flee. On September 23, the Libyan president ordered that all unauthorized militias either disband or come under government control. Militias across the country began surrendering to the government and submitting to its authority. Hundreds of Libyans gathered in Tripoli and Benghazi to hand over their weapons to the government.

Almost immediately after the attack ended various news, government, and intelligence sources were reporting on what the state of security was at the consulate before and at the time of the attack, suspected perpetrators and their motives, how the assault on both compounds was executed, and how U.S. military forces might have (or should have) intervened during the engagements. Questions about whether Obama administration officials — and President Obama himself — should have stated or did state that this was a terrorist attack created a controversy in the U.S., where the U.S. 2012 Presidential election was underway. The U.S. investigation of the attack is being conducted separately by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Background

In an October 2, 2012 letter to Secretary of State Clinton, Darrell Issa (R-CA, chairman of the Committee) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT, chairman of the subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations) compiled a list of more than a dozen attacks and events in the 6 months prior to the September 11 attack—including car jackings, kidnappings, assassination attempts, and gun battles—all of which indicated “a clear pattern of security threats that could only be reasonably interpreted to justify increased security for U.S. personnel and facilities in Benghazi.”[8]

  • In April 2012, two former security guards for the consulate threw a homemade “fish bomb” IED over the consulate fence; the incident did not cause any casualties.[9] Just 4 days later, a similar bomb was thrown at a four vehicle convoy carrying the United Nations Special Envoy to Libya, exploding just 12 feet from the UN envoy’s vehicle without injuring anyone.[10]
  • In May 2012 an Al-Qaida affiliate calling itself the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades claimed responsibility for an attack on the International Red Cross (ICRC) office in Benghazi. On August 6 the ICRC suspended operations in Benghazi. The head of the ICRC’s delegation in Libya said the aid group was “appalled” by the attack and “extremely concerned” about escalating violence in Libya.[11]
  • The Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades released a video of what it said was its detonation of an explosive device outside the gates of the U.S. consulate on June 5, which caused no casualties but damaged the consulate’s perimeter wall,[12][13] described by one individual as “big enough for forty men to go through.”[8] The Brigades claimed that the attack was in response to the killing of Abu Yahya al Libi, a Libyan al-Qaeda leader who had just died in an American drone attack, and was also timed to coincide with the imminent arrival of a U.S. diplomat.[14][15] There were no injuries, but the group left behind leaflets promising more attacks against the U.S.[16]
  • British ambassador to Libya Dominic Asquith survived an assassination attempt in Benghazi on June 10. Two British protection officers were injured in the attack when their convoy was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade 300 yards from their consulate office.[17] The British Foreign Office withdrew all consular staff from Benghazi in late June.[18][19][20]
  • On the day of the attack:
    • Al Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri declared that al Libi’s death still needed to be avenged.[21]
    • In Egypt, 2000 Salafist activists protested against the film at 5pm EET (11am EDT) at the US embassy in Cairo.[22]
    • President Obama was attending a 9/11 ceremony in the morning, and in the afternoon he visited with wounded veterans at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for two-and-a-half hours about the time the Benghazi attack began.[23]

After the attack, CNN reported that a Benghazi security official and a battalion commander had met with U.S. diplomats three days before the attack and had warned the Americans about deteriorating security in the area. The official told CNN that the diplomats had been advised, “The situation is frightening, it scares us.”[24]

On September 14, CNN correspondent Arwa Damon found Ambassador Stevens’ diary at the unsecured site of the attack. In it, Stevens expressed his concern about the growing al-Qaeda presence in the area and his worry about being on an al-Qaeda hit list. The U.S. State Department later accused CNN of violating privacy and breaking its promise to Stevens’ family that it would not report on the diary.[25]

The attack

The Benghazi attack consisted of military assaults on two separate U.S. diplomatic compounds. The first assault occurred at the main compound, approximately 300 yards long and 100 yards wide, at about 9:40 pm local time (3:40 pm EDT, Washington DC). The second assault took place at a CIA annex 1.2 miles away at about 4 am the following morning.[26]

Assault on the Consulate

Between 125 and 150 gunmen, “some wearing the Afghan-style tunics favored by Islamic militants,” are reported to have participated in the assault.[27][28][29] Some had their faces covered and wore flak jackets.[30] Weapons they used during the attack included rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, AK-47 and FN F2000 NATO assault rifles, diesel canisters, mortars, and heavy machine guns and artillery mounted on gun trucks.[31][32]

The assault began at nightfall, with the attackers sealing off streets leading to the main compound with gun trucks.[27] The trucks bore the logo of Ansar al-Shariah, a group of Islamist militants working with the local government to manage security in Benghazi.[27]

The area outside the compound before the assault was quiet; one Libyan guard who was wounded in the attack was quoted as saying “there wasn’t a single ant outside.”[28] One witness said he saw the militants before the assault “gathering around 20 youths from nearby to chant against the film.”[27] No more than seven Americans were in the compound, including Ambassador Stevens, who was visiting Benghazi at the time to review plans to establish a new cultural center and modernize a hospital.[33] Ambassador Stevens had his last meeting of the day with a Turkish diplomat and escorted him to the main gate at about 8:30 pm (local time). The street outside the compound was calm; the State Department reported no unusual activity during the day outside.[34] Ambassador Stevens retired to his room about 9 pm; he was alone in the building, according to guards interviewed later.[35]

About 9:40 pm (local time) large numbers of armed men shouting “Allah Akbar” descended on the compound from multiple directions.[28][36] The attackers lobbed grenades over the wall and entered the compound under a barrage of automatic weapons fire and RPGs, backed by truck-mounted artillery and anti-aircraft machine guns.[27][35] A Diplomatic Security agent viewed on the consulate’s security cameras “a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound.”[34] He hit the alarm and started shouting, “Attack! Attack!” over the loudspeaker.[37] Phone calls were made to the embassy in Tripoli, the Diplomatic Security Command Center in Washington, the Libyan February 17 Brigade, and a U.S. quick reaction force located at a second compound (the annex) a little more than a mile away.[29][38] Ambassador Stevens telephoned Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks in Tripoli to tell him the consulate was under attack. Mr. Hicks did not recognize the phone number so he didn’t answer it, twice. On the third attempt Mr. Hicks answered the call from Ambassador Stevens.[39]

Diplomatic Security special agent Scott Strickland secured Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith, an information management officer, in the main building’s safe haven.[38][40] Other agents retrieved their M4 carbines and tactical gear from another building. They tried to return to the main building but encountered armed attackers and retreated.[38]

The attackers entered the main building and rattled the locked metal grille of the safe haven.[37] They carried jerrycans of diesel fuel, spread the fuel over the floor and furniture, and set fires.[37][38] As thick smoke filled the building, Stevens, Smith, and Strickland moved to the bathroom and lay on the floor, but they decided to leave the safe haven after being overcome by smoke.[40] Strickland exited through the window, but Stevens and Smith did not follow him. Strickland returned back several times but couldn’t find them in the smoke; he went up to the roof and radioed other agents.[40]

Three agents returned to the main building in an armored vehicle; they searched the building and found Smith’s body, but not Stevens.[40]

A quick reaction force from the CIA annex arrived and attempted to secure the perimeter and locate the ambassador but were unable to find Stevens in the smoke-filled building. The team then decided to return to the annex with the survivors and Smith’s body. While en route back to the annex, the group’s armored vehicle was hit by AK-47 rifle fire and hand grenades. The vehicle was able to make it to its destination with two flat tires, however.[26]

Abdel-Monem Al-Hurr, the spokesman for Libya’s Supreme Security Committee, said roads leading to the Benghazi consulate compound were sealed off and Libyan state security forces had surrounded it.[41]

Immediate Reaction in the United States

Diplomatic security officers informed their headquarters in Washington about the attack just as it was beginning at about 9:40 local time (3:40PM Eastern Time). By 4:30 Eastern, Pentagon officials informed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about the attack. The Pentagon ordered an unmanned aerial vehicle that was in the air conducting surveillance on militant camps to fly over Benghazi. The drone arrived at 5:11 and began providing a video feed to Washington. At 5:41, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned CIA Director David Petraeus to coordinate. The CIA, which made up most of the US government’s presence in Benghazi, had a ten-member security team at its annex and the State Department believed that this team would assist the consulate in the event of an attack.[42]

Recovery of Ambassador Stevens

At about 1 am the body of Ambassador Stevens was found by local citizens and taken to the Benghazi Medical Center. At the hospital Stevens was administered CPR for 90 minutes by Dr. Ziad Abu Zeid.[43] According to Abu Zeid, Stevens died from asphyxiation caused by smoke inhalation. A 22-year-old freelance videographer, Fahd al-Bakoush, later published a video[44] showing Libyans trying to extract the unconscious ambassador from a smoke-filled room,[45][46] where he was found unconscious, which confirms reports that suggested the U.S. envoy died of asphyxiation after the building caught fire.[47]

Some of the Libyans who entered the compound tried to rescue Stevens after they found him lying alone on the floor in a dark smoke-filled room with a locked door accessible only by a window. A group of men pulled him out of the room through the window, and then placed him on the courtyard’s stone tile floor. The crowd cheered “God is Greatest” when Stevens was found to be alive. He was then rushed to the hospital in a private car as there was no ambulance to carry him.[48]

Dr. Ziad Abu Zeid was the Libyan doctor who treated Stevens. He said Stevens died of severe asphyxiation, that he had no other injuries, and that he tried for 45 minutes to revive him.[49] The doctor said he believed that officers from the Libyan Interior Ministry transported the body to the airport and into United States custody. State Department officials said they do not know who took Stevens to the hospital or transported the body to the airport and into U.S. custody.[49]

Assault on the CIA annex

After the consulate attack and before the annex attack, Libyan government forces met up with a group of Americans (believed to be eight reinforcements from Tripoli including Glen Doherty[50]) that had arrived at the Benghazi airport and went with them to the CIA annex at about 4am to assist in transporting approximately 32 Americans at the annex back to the airport for evacuation. As they were at the annex arranging for the transportation back to the airport a single shot rang out, quickly followed by RPGs and then a mortar that hit the annex roof killing Doherty and Tyrone Woods while operating their machine gun[51] while 31-year-old David Ubben suffered shrapnel injuries and several broken bones. According to Ubben’s father, “The first [mortar] dropped 50 yards short and the next two were right on target.”.[52]

Evacuation

The bodies were taken to Benina International Airport and flown to the capital, Tripoli, and scheduled to fly to a U.S. airbase in Germany. From Germany, the four bodies arrived at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, DC, where President Barack Obama and members of his cabinet held a ceremony in honor of those killed.

After the attack, all diplomatic staff were moved to the capital, Tripoli, with nonessential personnel to be flown out of Libya. Sensitive documents remained missing, including documents listing the names of Libyans working with the Americans, and documents relating to oil contracts.[53]

A U.S. Army commando unit was sent to Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy the night of the attack but did not deploy to Benghazi.[54]

Fatalities and injuries

Members of U.S. diplomatic mission who died in Benghazi, Libya
J. Christopher Stevens Sean Smith (diplomat) Glen Anthony Doherty.jpg Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods.jpg
J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Sean Smith, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Glen Doherty Tyrone S. Woods

Four Americans died in the attack: Ambassador Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith,[55] and two embassy security personnel, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods,[56][57] both former Navy SEALs.[58][59] Senior intelligence officials later acknowledged that Woods and Doherty were contracted by Central Intelligence Agency, not the State Department as previously identified,[60] and were part of a Global Response Staff (GRS), a team that provides security to CIA case officers and countersurveillance and surveillance protection.[61] On September 14 the remains of the slain Americans were returned to the United States. President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored the Benghazi victims at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

Initial reports indicated that ten Libyan guards died; this was later retracted and it was reported that seven Libyans were injured.[62] Three Americans were injured in the attack and treated at an American Military Hospital in Germany. [63]

Glen Doherty

Glen Anthony Doherty trained as a pilot at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University before joining the United States Navy. Doherty served as a Navy SEAL including tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving the Navy, he worked for a private security company in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kenya and Libya.[64] In the month prior to the attack, Doherty as a contractor with the State Department told ABC News in an interview that he personally went into the field in Libya to track down MANPADS, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, and destroy them.[65]

Tyrone S. Woods

Tyrone Snowden Woods worked for the State Department Diplomatic Security[66] as a U.S. embassy security personnel,[67] working under a service contract.[68] Since 2010, Woods had protected American diplomats in posts from Central America to the Middle East.[69]

Aftermath

Libyan response

Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur’s office condemned the attack and extended condolences, saying: “While strongly condemning any attempt to abuse the person of Muhammad, or an insult to our holy places and prejudice against the faith, we reject and strongly condemn the use of force to terrorise innocent people and the killing of innocent people.” It also reaffirmed “the depth of relationship between the peoples of Libya and the U.S., which grew closer with the positions taken by the U.S. government in support of the revolution of February 17.”[70] Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf, the President of the General National Congress of Libya, said: “We apologise to the United States, the people and to the whole world for what happened. We confirm that no-one will escape from punishment and questioning.”[71]

There were demonstrations in Benghazi[72] and Tripoli[73] on September 12, condemning the violence and holding signs such as “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans,” “Benghazi is against terrorism,” and other signs apologizing to Americans for the actions in their name and in the name of Muslims. The New York Times noted that young Libyans had also flooded Twitter with pro-American messages after the attacks.[73] It was noted that Libyans are typically more positively inclined towards the United States than their neighbors.[74] A 2012 Gallup poll noted that “A majority of Libyans (54%) surveyed in March and April 2012 approve of the leadership of the U.S. — among the highest approval Gallup has ever recorded in the… region, outside of Israel.” [75] Another poll in Eastern Libya, taken in 2011, reported that the population was at the same time both deeply religious conservative Muslims and very pro-American, with 90% of respondents reporting favorable views of the United States.[76][77]

Ali Aujali, the ambassador to the United States, praised Stevens as a “dear friend” and a “real hero” at a reception in Washington, D.C., alongside Hillary Clinton. He also urged the United States to continue supporting Libya as it went “through a very difficult time” and that the young Libyan government needed help so that it could “maintain…security and stability in our country.”[78]

The Libyan response to the crisis was praised and appreciated in the United States, and President Obama emphasized how the Libyans “helped our diplomats to safety” to an American audience the following day,[79] while a New York Times editorial criticized Egypt’s government for not doing “what Libyan leaders did.” [80]

Anti-militia demonstrationsOn September 21, about 30,000 Libyans marched through Benghazi calling for the support of the rule of law and for an end to armed militias.[81][82] Carrying signs with slogans such as “We Want Justice For Chris” and “Libya Lost a Friend,” the protestors stormed several militia headquarters, including that of Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist militia who some allege played a role in the attack on U.S. diplomatic personnel on September 11.[83][84] At least 10 people were killed and dozens more wounded as militiamen fired on demonstrators at the headquarters of Sahaty Brigade, a pro-government militia “operating under the authority of the ministry of defence.”[81][84][85]

By early next morning, the protestors had forced militia members to flee and seized control of a number of compounds, releasing four prisoners found inside.[83][84] Protesters burnt a car and a building of at least one facility, and looted weapons.[81][82][84] The militia compounds and many weapons were handed over to Libya’s national army[82] in what “appeared to be part of a coordinated sweep of militia bases by police, government troops and activists” following the earlier demonstrations.[83][84] Some militia members accused the protestors of being Qaddafi loyalists, looking to disarm the militias in the wake of the revolution.[82]

Government campaign to disband militiasOn September 23, taking advantage of the growing momentum and rising anger against the militias evinced in the earlier anti-militia demonstrations,[86] the Libyan president declared that all unauthorized militias had 48 hours to either disband or come under government control.[87][88] The government also mandated that bearing arms in public was now illegal, as were armed checkpoints.[87]

It has been noted that previously, handling the militias had been difficult as the government had been forced to rely on some of them for protection and security.[86][88] However, according to a Libyan interviewed in Tripoli, the government gained the ability to push back against the militias because of a “mandate of the people.”[88]

On the 24th, the government commenced with a raid on a former military base held by a rogue infantry militia.[89]

Across the country, militias began surrendering to the government. The government formed a “National Mobile Force” for the purpose of evicting illegal militias.[90] On the same day as the declaration, various militias in Misrata held meetings, ultimately deciding to submit to the government’s authority, and handed over various public facilities they had been holding, including the city’s three main jails, which were handed over to the authority of the Ministry of Justice.[88] Hours before the announcement, in Derna, the two main militias (one of them Ansar-al-Sharia) active in the city both withdrew, leaving both their five military bases behind.[86][88][90]

Hundreds of Libyans, mainly former rebel fighters, gathered in the city centers of Tripoli and Benghazi to hand over their weapons to the government on the 29th of September.[91]

However, the campaign has been less successful in other areas, such as the remote Nafusa Mountains, inhabited by the Nafusi-speaking Berber minority, where the Emirati news agency The National reported on 23 September that arms were being hoarded. The National also reported arms being hoarded in Misrata, despite simultaneous reporting by other outlets that militias were surrendering in Misrata.[92]

U.S. government response

On September 12 U.S. President Barack Obama condemned “this outrageous attack” on U.S. diplomatic facilities[94] and stated that “[s]ince our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”[94] After referring to “the 9/11 attacks,” “troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan”, and “then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi”[94] the President then stated that “[a]s Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.”[94] He then went on to say, “[n]o acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”[94]

After the attack, Obama ordered that security be increased at all such facilities worldwide.[95] A 50-member Marine FAST team was sent to Libya to “bolster security.”[96] It was announced that the FBI would investigate the possibility of the attack being planned.[97] U.S. officials said surveillance over Libya would increase, including the use of unmanned drones, to “hunt for the attackers.”[97]

Secretary of State Clinton also made a statement on September 12, describing the perpetrators as “heavily armed militants” and “a small and savage group – not the people or government of Libya.”[98] She also reaffirmed “America’s commitment to religious tolerance” and said “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet,” but whether true or not, that was not a justification for violence.[99] The State Department had previously identified embassy and personnel security as a major challenge in its budget and priorities report.[100]

On September 12 it was reported that the United States Navy dispatched two Arleigh Burke class destroyers, the USS McFaul and the USS Laboon, to the Libyan coast.[101] The destroyers are equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles. American UAVs were also sent to fly over Libya to search for the perpetrators of the attack.[102]

In a speech on September 13 in Golden, Colorado, President Obama paid tribute to the four Americans “killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Libya,” stating, “We enjoy our security and our liberty because of the sacrifices they make…I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world.”[103]

In his press briefing on September 14, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that “we don’t have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this [the Benghazi attack] was not in reaction to the film.”[104] He went on to say: “There was no intelligence that in any way could have been acted on to prevent these attacks…. We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack. The unrest we’ve seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims find offensive. And while the violence is reprehensible and unjustified, it is not a reaction to the 9/11 anniversary that we know of, or to U.S. policy.”

On September 14 the remains of the slain Americans were returned to the U.S. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the ceremony. In her remarks Clinton said, “One young woman, her head covered and her eyes haunted with sadness, held up a handwritten sign that said ‘Thugs and killers don’t represent Benghazi nor Islam.’ The President of the Palestinian Authority, who worked closely with Chris when he served in Jerusalem, sent me a letter remembering his energy and integrity, and deploring – and I quote – ‘an act of ugly terror.’[105] She went on to say: “We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with.”

A report prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, stated “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” [106] This initial assessment was provided to Executive Branch officials.[107]

On September 16 the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice appeared on five major interview shows, stating that the attacks began as a “spontaneous reaction” to “a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world.” “I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.”[108][109][110][111][112] Ms. Rice later stated that her statements were based on a report prepared by the C.I.A.[113]

In a White House press briefing on September 18, press secretary Jay Carney explained the attack to reporters: “I’m saying that based on information that we — our initial information, and that includes all information — we saw no evidence to back up claims by others that this was a preplanned or premeditated attack; that we saw evidence that it was sparked by the reaction to this video. And that is what we know thus far based on the evidence, concrete evidence.”[114]

On September 20, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney answered a question about an open hearing with the National Counterterrorism Center Director, Matthew G. Olsen, which referenced which extremist groups might have been involved. Carney said, “It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently, and the result was four deaths of American officials. So, again, that’s self-evident.”[115] On the same day, during an appearance on Univision, a Spanish-language television network in the United States, President Obama stated, “What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”[116][117][118][119][120]

On September 25, in an address before the United Nations General Assembly President Obama stated, “The attacks on our civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America…And there should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice.”[33][121] He also said, “There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy.”

On September 26 Clinton acknowledged a possible link between Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the September 11 attack.[2]

On September 28, U.S. intelligence stated “In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress . . . . As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate.”[107]

To assist the Libyan government in disbanding extremist groups, the Obama administration allocated $8 million to begin building an elite Libyan commando force over the next year.[122]

Criticism of U.S. government response

Republican Party members took issue with the Democratic Party controlled administration, accusing the White House and State Department of overplaying the role of the protests against a trailer for a controversial anti-Islamic movie in the case of Libya and the government’s alleged reluctance to label the attack as “terrorist”.[123] Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who on the 13th of September said that the attacks had all the hallmarks of a coordinated attack by al-Qaeda,[124] has questioned whether there were any protests at all in Benghazi, saying: “I have seen no information that shows that there was a protest going on as you have seen around any other embassy at the time. It was clearly designed to be an attack.”[125] According to critics, the consulate site should have been secured better both before and after the attack.

On the 20th, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a classified briefing to U.S. Senators,[126] which several Republican attendees criticized.[127] According to the article, senators were angered at the Obama administration’s rebuff of their attempts to learn details of the Benghazi attack, only to see that information published the next day in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

GOP legislators also took issue with delays in the investigation, which CNN attributed to “bureaucratic infighting” between the FBI, Justice, and State. On the 26th, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) said he “cannot believe that the FBI is not on the ground yet.”[123]

On CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley on September 30, Crowley observed that “Friday we got the administration’s sort of definitive statement that this now looks as though it was a pre-planned attack by a terrorist group, some of whom were at least sympathetic to al Qaeda,” and asked the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, “why do you think and are you bothered that it has taken them this long from September 11th to now to get to this conclusion?” to which McCain replied that “it interferes with the depiction that the administration is trying to convey that al Qaeda is on the wane… how else could you trot out our U.N. ambassador to say this was a spontaneous demonstration?… It was either willful ignorance or abysmal intelligence to think that people come to spontaneous demonstrations with heavy weapons, mortars, and the attack goes on for hours.”[128]

On CBS’s Face the Nation on October 28, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said “we know that there were tapes, recordings inside the consulate during this fight…. So the president went on various shows, despite what he said he said in the Rose Garden, about terrorist acts, he went on several programs, including The View including Letterman, including before the UN where he continued to refer, days later, many days later, to this as a spontaneous demonstration because of a hateful video. We know that is patently false. What did the president know? When did he know it? And what did he do about it?”[129] However, CBS News reported earlier on October 24 that the video of the assault was recovered 20 days after the attack, from the more than 10 security cameras at the compound.[130]

U.S. media response

On the last weekend of October a message posted on Facebook by a Political Action Committee (SOS PAC) claiming President Obama denied them backup in Benghazi was taken down twice by the social networking site. After the post was removed and SOS’s Facebook account suspended for 24 hours, the post was reinstated and SOS received an email from Facebook apologizing for the matter.[131]

A study released on November 2 found that leading newspapers in the U.S. framed the attack in terms of a spontaneous protest (the Obama administration’s version) four times as often as a planned terrorist attack (the Republican version).[132] The study was based on a computer-assisted analysis of 2,572 words and phrases related to the attack in 348 news stories from September 12 to October 12 in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today.

On the day of that study’s release, two of the newspapers—The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal—published editorials critical of the Obama administration’s handling of Benghazi. The Washington Post editorial asked such questions as, “Did the Obama administration’s political preoccupation with maintaining a light footprint in Libya lead to an ill-considered reliance on local militias, rather than on U.S. forces?”[133] The Wall Street Journal editorial asked such questions as “Why did the U.S. not heed warnings about a growing Islamist presence in Benghazi and better protect the diplomatic mission and CIA annex?” and “Why has the Administration’s story about what took place in Benghazi been so haphazard and unclear?”[134]

On November 4, two days before the presidential election, CBS News released a portion of its interview with President Obama for 60 Minutes that was filmed on September 12 but did not air originally on its September 23 show.[135] Journalist Bret Baier, host of Special Report with Bret Baier, noted that in these newly released portions of the interview “Obama would not say whether he thought the attack was terrorism. Yet he would later emphasize at a presidential debate that in the Rose Garden the same day, he had declared the attack an act of terror.”[136] Baier noted that President Obama had been saying that he declared the Benghazi attack a terrorist attack since his announcement in the Rose Garden on September 12 and highlighted the newly released video interview with Steve Kroft: “KROFT: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya Attack, do you believe that this was a terrorism attack? OBAMA: Well it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other.”[136]

Investigation timeline

September 2012

September 12 The New York Times reported: “American and European officials said that while many details about the attack remained unclear, the assailants seemed organized, well trained and heavily armed, and they appeared to have at least some level of advance planning.” The article also noted that a senior Obama administration official told reporters that “it was clearly a complex attack,” but provided no details.[137]CBS News reported that Wanis al-Sharef (also spelled al-Sharif), a Libyan Interior Ministry official in Benghazi, said that an angry mob had gathered outside the consulate to protest a U.S.-made film that ridicules Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. According to al-Sharef, the mob stormed the consulate after the U.S. troops who responded fired rounds into the air to try and disperse the crowd.[138]CBS News later reported that U.S. officials said the attack was not an out-of-control demonstration as first suspected, but a well-executed assault. From the wording of the report it is unclear whether the protesters were a group distinct from the attackers or were the attackers themselves.[139]The Guardian published a video interview of a local Libyan on the consulate compound right after the attack, who presumed and empathized that the attack was in response to the anti-Islamic film.[140]The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials and Middle East analysts said that the attack “may have been planned by extremists and inspired by al-Qaeda.”[141]In a press release, the Qulliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank based in London, stated that the “military assault” was not related to the film but was to “avenge the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, al-Qaeda’s second in command killed a few months ago.”[142]BBC reported that Libya’s deputy ambassador to London, Ahmad Jibril, named Ansar al-Sharia as the perpetrators. They also said a Libyan reporter told them that the attack was executed by as many as 80 militiamen “armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and 14.5 mm anti-aircraft machine guns.”[143][144]Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif of the Libyan government told a news conference in Benghazi that it was likely that the perpetrators had been Gaddafi loyalists, suggesting the attack could have been intended as a revenge for the extradition of Abdullah al-Senoussi (Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief) from Mauritania the previous month.[145]
September 13 The FBI opened an investigation into the deaths; a team was sent to investigate, with another team for security.[97] The FBI officials were set to arrive by September 21 in Benghazi to work with Libyan officials.[146]In a briefing to congressional staffers, State Department Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy said that the attack appeared planned because it was so extensive and because of the “proliferation” of small and medium weapons.[147]CNN reported that the attackers were part of an Al Qaeda spinoff group. They spoke with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who said the killings were possibly linked to the terrorist group blamed for the 9/11 hijackings. According to Sen. Feinstein, “The weapons were somewhat sophisticated, and they blew a big hole in the building and started a big fire.”[148]
September 14 The Senate Armed Services Committee was briefed by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta about the response to the situation in Libya. Afterwards, Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) was quoted as saying, “I think it was a planned, premeditated attack.” He added that he did not know the group responsible for the attack.[149]
September 15 SITE Intelligence Group released a report that said al-Qaeda claimed that the attack was in revenge for the killing of the network’s number two Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi.[150]Talking points prepared by the CIA, stated “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” [106]
September 16 In an interview with NPR in Benghazi, President Mohammed el-Megarif said that foreigners infiltrated Libya over the past few months, planned the attack, and used Libyans to carry it out.[151] According to el-Megarif: “The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous. We firmly believe that this was a precalculated, preplanned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the U.S. Consulate.” He said the attackers used the protesters outside the consulate as a cover, and there is evidence showing that elements of Ansar al-Sharia, an extremist group in eastern Benghazi, were used by foreign citizens with ties to al-Qaida to attack the consulate.[152]U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice appeared on several Sunday morning talk shows and stated, “Putting together the best information that we have available to us today our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of– of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video. What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding. They came with heavy weapons which unfortunately are readily available in post revolutionary Libya. And it escalated into a much more violent episode.”[112][153][154][155][156]Senator John McCain (R-AZ), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, voiced suspicion that the attack was planned in advance and not prompted by the furor over the film. He noted that “[m]ost people don’t bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons to demonstrations. That was an act of terror.”[157]
September 17 Fox News reported that an “intelligence source on the ground in Libya” said “there was no demonstration outside the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi” before the attack.[158] The source was quoted as saying, “There was no protest and the attacks were not spontaneous.” The source also said that the attack “was planned and had nothing to do with the movie.” The source said the assault came with no warning at about 9:35 p.m. local time and included fire from more than two locations. The information for the time and for multiple directions of the attack corroborates an eyewitness report.[28]Representative Mike Rogers (R) Michigan, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview with Real Clear Politics that there were reports that the Consulate sustained “indirect fire, artillery type fire from mortars. They had direct unit action. It was coordinated in a way that was very unusual. They repulsed a quick reaction force that came to the facility….”[159]
September 19 The director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matthew Olson, appeared before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. During the hearing Olsen said that the Americans killed in Libya died “in the course of a terrorist attack.”[160]But he said that “the facts that we have now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack,” one in which heavily armed militants took advantage of an ongoing demonstration at the Consulate.Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) disagreed with Olsen’s statement that the attack did not appear pre-planned. She said, “Based on the briefings I have had, I’ve come to the opposite conclusion. I just don’t think that people come to protests equipped with RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and other heavy weapons. And the reports of complicity—and they are many—with Libyan guards who were assigned to guard the consulate also suggest to me that this was premeditated.” Olsen told committee members that the U.S. is “looking at indications” that some attackers had connections to al-Qaeda or its North African affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.Fox News reported intelligence sources that the attack was tied to Al Qaeda via the involvement of Abu Sufian bin Qumu, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee.[161][162] However, a US national security official tells Mother Jones that “that report is wrong, there’s no intelligence suggesting that he was leading the attack on the consulate that evening.”[163]
September 20 Reuters reported that U.S. authorities are investigating the prospect of collusion between the militants who launched the attack on the consulate and locally hired Libyan personnel guarding the facility.[164] This corroborates earlier statements by U.S. government officials who stated there were multiple accounts of collusion between the attackers and the Libyan security guards.[160]Secretary Clinton announced the formation of a panel to investigate the attack,[165]which is separate from the FBI investigation.White House Press Secretary Jay Carney for the first time called the event “a terrorist attack.” In the same report CNN noted conflicting reports that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens “believed he was on an al Qaeda hit list.”[166]
September 21 U.S. officials said that the heavily armed extremists who laid siege to the consulate used “military-style tactics” in what appeared to be a “sophisticated operation”. Intelligence reports indicated that 50 or more people, many of them masked, took part in the attack and used gun trucks and precise mortar fire.[167] Intelligence reports also indicated that the attackers set up a perimeter to control access in and out of the compound.
September 23 A report in The New York Times has stated that there were two facilities used by the Americans in Benghazi, one for the American mission and an annex a half-mile away [168]and that:

Neither was heavily guarded, and the annex was never intended to be a “safe house,” as initial accounts suggested. Two of the mission’s guards — Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty, former members of the Navy SEALs — were killed just outside the villa’s front gate.
September 25 U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) sent a letter to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice seeking clarification on statements she made on the five Sunday talk shows on September 16 that the September 11 attack in Benghazi was the result of a “spontaneous reaction.” The senators wrote that the evidence clearly showed the attack was planned and coordinated.[169] Ms. Rice wrote in her reply letter, “I relied solely and squarely on the information the intelligence community provided to me … This information represented the intelligence community’s best, current assessment as of the date of my television appearances.” The four senators replied in a statement: “Elements of the intelligence community apparently told the administration within hours of the attack that militants connected with al Qaeda were involved, yet Ambassador Rice claims her comments five days later reflected the ‘best’ and ‘current’ assessment of the intelligence community. Either the Obama administration is misleading Congress and the American people, or it is blaming the entire failure on the intelligence community.”[170]
September 26 The Daily Beast reported that three separate U.S. intelligence officials knew within 24 hours of the attack that it was “planned and the work of al Qaeda affiliates operating in Eastern Libya.”[171]Libyan president Mohamed Magariefd, in an interview with NBC News, said that there were no protestors at the site before the attack and that the anti-Islam film had “nothing to do with” the attack.[172]“Reaction should have been, if it was genuine, should have been six months earlier. So it was postponed until the 11th of September,” he said. “They chose this date, 11th of September to carry a certain message.”Eight Republican Representatives on the House Armed Services Committee sent a letter to President Obama asking him to provide answers to questions in a classified format.[173] Their letter reads in part: “While we appreciate your willingness to provide the House of Representatives with an interagency briefing last week, many of the members’ questions were left unanswered. To that end, we are seeking additional information regarding the intelligence leading up to the attack, the security posture of our embassy, the role former Guantanamo Bay detainees may have played, as well as the way forward in Libya and, indeed, the region.”
September 28 A statement released by the Director of Public Affairs for the Director of National Intelligence, Shawn Turner, on the intelligence related to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, read in part:[107] “As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. However, we do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to al-Qa’ida. We continue to make progress, but there remain many unanswered questions. As more information becomes available our analysis will continue to evolve and we will obtain a more complete understanding of the circumstances surrounding the terrorist attack.”

[edit] October 2012

October 2 In a letter to Secretary of State Clinton, Darrell Issa (R-CA, chairman of the Committee) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT, chairman of the subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations) write that “the attack that claimed the Ambassador’s life was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months leading up to September 11, 2012. It was clearly never, as Administration officials once insisted, the result of a popular protest.”[8] The letter goes on to state that the mission in Benghazi was denied increased security they repeatedly requested. Subpoenaed witnesses set to testify before the committee on October 10 are Charlene Lamb, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State; Eric Nordstrom, Regional Security Officer, U.S. Department of State; and Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, Utah National Guard, U.S. Army.[174] According to Lt. Col. Wood, his 16-member team and a six-member State Department elite force called a Mobile Security Deployment team left Libya in August, one month before the assault on the diplomatic mission. Wood says that’s despite the fact that U.S. officials in Libya wanted security increased, not decreased.[175]
October 3 The Washington Post reported that the FBI investigation team was in Tripoli and had not reached Benghazi yet.[176]
October 4 The State Department announced an Accountability Review Board “to examine the facts and circumstances of the attacks.”[177]The Washington Post reported that the FBI team arrived in Benghazi and left after about 12 hours.[178]
October 5 The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is conducting its own investigation of the attack.[175]
October 9 In an evening briefing to reporters, the State Department said it never concluded that the consulate attack in Libya stemmed from protests over the video.[179]Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Bob Corker (R-TN) met with Libyan officials in Tripoli, and said that investigators are examining video from security cameras at the primary Benghazi compound to help them reconstruct what happened in the attack and identify attack participants.[180]Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) sent letters to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus, and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, asking them to respond to “specific questions regarding the shifting official explanations” about the attack.[181]
October 10

The four witnesses called to testify at the October 10, 2012 hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (l to r) were Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, Utah National Guard, U.S. Army; Eric Nordstrom, Regional Security Officer, U.S. Department of State; Charlene Lamb, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State; and Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management, U.S. Department of State. An image of the U.S. compound can be seen behind Ms. Lamb.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held its hearing, “The Security Failures of Benghazi.”[174] In addition to the three witnesses originally named, a fourth witness testified: Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management, U.S. Department of State.

  • In sworn testimony, Mr. Kennedy said, “…if any administration official, including any career official, were on television on Sunday, September 16th, they would have said what Ambassador Rice said. The information she had at that point from the intelligence community is the same that I had at that point.”[182] However, in a briefing to congressional staffers on September 13, Mr. Kennedy said that the attack appeared planned.[147]
  • During testimony State Department witnesses acknowledged that it rejected appeals for more security at its diplomatic posts in Libya in the months before the attack.[183] The “annex” and “safe house” in the second diplomatic compound was inadvertently revealed to be a U.S. intelligence post.[184][185][186]
  • Charlene Lamb, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Programs, said in her prepared testimony that she had a firm grasp on what happened in Benghazi, starting moments after the assault began. ”When the attack began, a Diplomatic Security agent working in the tactical operations center immediately … alerted the annex U.S. quick reaction security team stationed nearby … and the Diplomatic Security Command Center in Washington. From that point on, I could follow what was happening in almost real-time.”[38]
  • During testimony Representative Issa described the existence of video tape of the attack taken from consulate security cameras; the tape was not available to committee members at the time of the hearing.
October 12 U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs announced its plan to conduct a bipartisan investigation. Part of their investigation will seek to determine “why the Administration’s initial public assessments of this attack were subsequently proven inaccurate.”[187]
October 14 Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), speaking on CBS’ Face the Nation, said that “[t]he intelligence community on the ground in Libya has told Senator Corker and myself that within twenty-four hours, they communicated up to Washington that this was a terrorist attack.”[188]
October 15 U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton assumed responsibility for the Benghazi attack, saying that she is in charge of her 60,000-plus staff all over the world and “the president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.”[189] Republican Senator John McCain praised her “laudable gesture, especially when the White House is trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever” but insisted that either there were drastic failures in the national security operation in not keeping the president aware of ongoing threats, or Obama himself knew of the threats and needed to take responsibility for the shortcomings.[190]In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the two Libyan militiamen guarding the consulate denied aiding the attackers. The compound was “lazily quiet” in the hours before the assault, they said. Around 9:30 p.m., the guards heard cries of “Allahu akbar!”—”God is great”—three times from outside the walls, then a voice called out in Arabic “You infidels!” and the attackers raced inside.[191]The New York Times reported that witnesses of the attack knowledgeable of the circumstances were very convinced that it was carried out by a group of local Islamic militants in response to the video. According to local militia leaders familiar with the militant group, it was capable of carrying out the attack on short notice with only a few hour’s planning.[192]
October 17 Libyan officials report that the founder of Libya’s Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia was at the compound during the attack, but that he remains free a week after those allegations were disclosed to Libyan political leaders and U.S. investigators.[193] The militia commander, identified as Ahmed Abu Khattalah, is a former political prisoner whose fighters were also blamed for assassinating a senior military officer after he defected to the opposition during last year’s revolution against Moammar Kadafi.[194]
October 18 Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs made its first request for documents and briefings into the circumstances surrounding the attack. In separate letters to Secretary Hillary Clinton, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the committee requested a classified briefing for members of the committee. The briefing is to address threat assessments before the attack, security needs, requests for security, description and chronology of the attack, and what the Obama administration knew about the attack in the immediate aftermath and “whether any initial public statements issued by members of the Administration in the days following the attack were inaccurate and, if so, why.”[195]Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, questioned the security at the compound and the initial intelligence surrounding the attack. Feinstein was quoted in an interview: “I think what happened was the director of national intelligence, which we call the DNI, who is a very good individual, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Gen. Jim Clapper, put out some speaking points on the initial intelligence assessment. I think that was possibly a mistake.”[196]
October 19 Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and National Security Subcommittee Chairman Jason Chaffetz sent a 10-page letter to President Obama,[197] accompanied by 166 pages of unclassified documents[198] and photos.[199] The committee stated that the “letter requests that the White House respond to questions about its role in the controversial decision to have the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya pursue a course of ‘normalization’ that was intended to help create the perception of success in Libya and contrast it to U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”[200]Representative Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to President Obama requesting him to release Intelligence Community (1) reporting that led Obama Administration officials to initially characterize the assault as a “spontaneous reaction” to a film and (2) data and intelligence that led the Administration to change its characterization from a “spontaneous reaction” to a “terrorist attack.”[201]Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) renewed their request from 10 days ago that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, answer questions regarding “the shifting official explanations surrounding” the attack. The senators wrote, “Our questions should not be hard to answer, and the American people have a right to learn what our intelligence communities knew about the events of September 11, 2012, and when they knew it.”[202]U.S. officials told The Associated Press that the CIA station chief in Libya compiled intelligence reports within 24 hours of the attack that indicated there was evidence it was carried out by militants, using the pretext of demonstrations against U.S. facilities in Egypt against the film to cover their intent. The report from the station chief was written late Wednesday, Sept. 12, and reached intelligence agencies in Washington the next day. It was not clear how widely the information was circulated.[203]
October 20 The Washington Post reported that talking points prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15 stated: “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” [106]CBS News reported Congress members have asked why military assistance was not sent. General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta “looked at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies.” A unmanned Predator drone was sent to Benghazi, and the drone observed the final hours of the attack. The Pentagon said it moved a team of special operators from central Europe to Naval Air Station Sigonella; other nearby military forces available were fighter jets and AC-130 gunships. Gary Berntsen stated, “They made zero adjustments in this. They stood and they watched and our people died.”[204]
October 22 The New York Times reported that Ms. Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, “has said that the judgments she offered on the five talk shows on Sept. 16 came from talking points prepared by the C.I.A., which reckoned that the attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans had resulted from a spontaneous mob that was angry about an anti-Islamic video that had set off protests elsewhere. That assessment, described to Ms. Rice in briefings the day before her television appearances, was based on intercepted communications, informants’ tips and Libyan press reports, officials said.” [113]
October 23 Media reports indicate that the State Department’s Operations Center sent a “Sensitive but unclassified” email at 4:05 p.m. Washington time (10:05 p.m. Benghazi time) on September 11 titled “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” to the White House Situation Room and other U.S. security units and two hours later sent an email titled “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.”[205][206] The first email reads in part: “approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM (Chief of Mission/embassy) personnel are in the compound safe haven.”[207] Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton cautioned that those emails are “not in and of itself evidence” that the administration had definitively assessed the assault as a terrorist attack from the beginning.[208] A Tunisian man who was arrested in Turkey earlier this month with reported links to the Benghazi attack has been returned to Tunisia and is facing terrorism charges.[209][210]
October 25 A suspected Al-Qaeda member who was believed to have been involved in the Consulate attack was shot dead by Egyptian police, after they received a tip that he was staying in an apartment in Madinat Nasr. Egyptian police also arrested a seven-member cell in Cairo, five of whom are Libyans and the other two Egyptians.[211]
October 26 Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, CIA Director David Petraeus, and Attorney General Eric Holder requesting they make public the surveillance video taken at the consulate during the attack.[212]Fox News reported that military back-up was denied by the CIA chain of command, and the annex was instructed twice to “stand down”. Woods, and two others, ignored those instructions and evacuated the consulate. Upon returning to the annex, and after beginning to taking fire, the annex requested fire support as they had a laser targeted on the mortar team that was attacking them. A CIA spokeswoman, Jennifer Youngblood, denied the claims.[61]
October 27 The Associated Press published a timeline of the comments by the administration and Libyan officials regarding the Benghazi attack,[29] as well as Libyan witnesses account.[27]
October 28 Retired Army Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer told Fox News that he has sources saying President Obama was in the White House Situation Room watching the assault unfold in real time.[213]
October 31 Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested that “at least two networks have emails from the National Security Adviser’s office telling a counterterrorism group to stand down” in assisting the besieged U.S. consulate in Benghazi.[214]Gingrich said that the bombshell emails could be revealed within the next two days.Fox News reported that a cable marked “SECRET” and addressed to the Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton summarized an “emergency meeting” convened by the U.S. Mission in Benghazi on August 15, 2012. In the meeting the State Department’s regional security officer “expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound.” According to Fox News, “The details in the cable seemed to foreshadow the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. compound, which was a coordinated, commando-style assault using direct and indirect fire. Al Qaeda in North Africa and Ansar al-Sharia, both mentioned in the cable, have since been implicated in the consulate attack.”[215]

November 2012

November 1 Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), appearing on yesterday evenings’ Fox News’ On the Record w/ Greta Van Susteren, said that Ambassador Stevens telephoned Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks in Tripoli on Sept. 11 to tell him the consulate was under attack.[39]CBS News reported that during the attack the Obama administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource: the Counterterrorism Security Group, (CSG). A high-ranking government official was quoted: “The CSG is the one group that’s supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies. They were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon.”[216]The article goes on to state that counterterrorism sources and internal emails reviewed by CBS News expressed frustration that key responders were ready to deploy but were not called upon to help in the attack.Documents found by reporters for the American magazine Foreign Policy on Oct. 26 amid the wreckage of the U.S. consulate indicate there was concern about security at the compound. One letter dated Sept. 11 and addressed to Mohamed Obeidi, the head of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ office in Benghazi, reads in part: “Finally, early this morning at 0643, September 11, 2012, one of our diligent guards made a troubling report. Near our main gate, a member of the police force was seen in the upper level of a building across from our compound. It is reported that this person was photographing the inside of the U.S. special mission and furthermore that this person was part of the police unit sent to protect the mission.”[217]The article states that this accords with a message written by Smith, the IT officer who was killed in the assault, on a gaming forum on Sept. 11. “Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures,” he wrote hours before the assault.Washington Post published a detailed CIA timeline of the attack described by a senior intelligence official.[218]
November 2 Fifty-three members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary Clinton requesting responses to oversight questions, including questions on the president’s Daily Brief, how the State Department designated the Benghazi compound (and how it affected security requirements), contradictions in the administration’s public statements of the attack as a deliberate terrorist attack or a spontaneous protest, and discrepancies between danger pay increases for mission personnel but denial for additional security.[219]Senior U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged that Woods and Doherty were contracted by the Central Intelligence Agency, not the State Department as originally publicly identified.[60]Fox News reported that U.S. military intelligence informed senior commanders as early as 7 p.m. ET (that is, less than 4 hours after the attack began) that Ansar al-Sharia carried out the attack. The intelligence was relayed with no caveats, according to a source familiar with the intelligence.[220]The Pentagon said that two U.S. service members volunteered to join the CIA team that travelled from Tripoli to Benghazi on the rescue mission.[221]
November 3 U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) urged the immediate creation of a temporary Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi attack.[222]Fox News reported that the Blue Mountain Security manager (who was in charge of the local force hired to guard the consulate perimeter) made calls on both two-way radios and cell phones to colleagues in Benghazi warning of problems at least an hour earlier than the attack. Allegedly, those calls were to local security contractors, who say that the annex was also notified much earlier than 9:40 p.m., when the attack started. U.S. military intelligence also said that armed militias were gathering up to 3 hours before the attack.[223]
November 9 David H. Petraeus resigned his position as CIA Director and admitted to having an extramarital affair; he was scheduled to testify before Congress the week of November 12 on the Benghazi attack.[224] As of then it was not clear that General Petraeus would have to testify, and whether he would be disposed to do so if requested or required by Congress, though Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, indicated that the Congress would need to interview him. On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, it was made known that he had agreed to testify the following day, Thursday, November 15.[225]
November 10 The Department of Defense released a press release stating they released a detailed timeline yesterday of the Pentagon’s response to the attack.[226]
November 12 Paula Broadwell gave a talk on October 26th at the University of Denver in which she revealed that the CIA annex was used to imprison Libyan militia members.[227] In the same speech, Broadwell speculated that this may have been the motivation behind the attack on the consulate.[228] A Fox News Source confirmed to them that the CIA Annex was used as a detention center for not just militia members, but for prisoners from all parts of Northern Africa and the Middle East. The CIA has denied these allegations.[229]
November 15 U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials testified in congressional public and closed hearings today.[230] CNN reported that legislators saw “real-time film (showing) exactly what happened”, starting before the attack began up “through the incident and the exodus,” according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The video was reported to be from “a combination of video from a surveillance camera and a drone.”[231]
November 16 Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified in closed hearings to both congressional intelligence committees. Speaking with reporters after the hearing, Representative Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said that Petraeus testified that he knew that the attack was a terrorist attack linked to al-Qaeda affiliates and not sparked by a protest over an anti-Islam video, as White House officials and President Obama had said for days afterwards.[232] “The original talking points put out by the CIA were different from what was later put out,” King said. “Petraeus says his initial assessment was from the start it was a terrorist attack.” King said a CIA analyst specifically told lawmakers that the al-Qaeda affiliates line “was taken out.”[233]Other House members in attendance at the hearing said that Petraeus made clear that the modifications of the original talking points were not done for political reasons. Petraeus “was adamant there was no politicization of the process, no White House interference or political agenda,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). “He completely debunked that idea.” Regarding Ambassador Susan Rice’s comments during television interviews after the attack, Schiff went on to say that the, according to Petraeus, the comments “reflected the best intelligence at the time that could be released publicly”. “There was an interagency process to draft it, not a political process,” Schiff said. “They came up with the best assessment without compromising classified information or source or methods. So changes were made to protect classified information.”[234] According to Petraeus’s statements during the hearing, administration officials were concerned that, by publicly disclosing the involvement of Al Qaeda affiliates and sympathizers in the attack, those groups would be tipped off that US government agencies were aware of their involvement.[235]The Washington Post reported that, since the attack, the CIA and other intelligence analysts have settled on a hybrid view of the attack, suggesting that the Cairo protest sparked militants in Libya, who quickly mobilized the assault on U.S. facilities in Benghazi.[236] Details about possible al-Qaeda links were not in initial talking points used by both Petraeus and UN Ambassador Susan Rice because they were preliminary and based on classified sources, intelligence officials said.
November 20 CBS News reported that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) cut specific references to “al Qaeda” and “terrorism” from the unclassified talking points given to Ambassador Susan Rice on the attack, with the agreement of the CIA and FBI.[237]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_on_the_U.S._diplomatic_mission_in_Benghazi

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NSA–Now Spying on Americans: Big Brother Government Spying On Americans–Progressives Minding Your Business Without Warrants–Remotely Piloted Aircraft a.k.a.Drones–Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)–Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISA)–Videos

Posted on June 8, 2012. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, College, Communications, Economics, Education, Employment, Foreign Policy, government, government spending, history, Investments, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Regulations, Resources, Taxes, Unemployment, Unions, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Mind blowing speech by Robert Welch in 1958 predicting Insiders plans to destroy America 

NSA Building Colossal New Data Center: Spying on Americans 

‘NSA are spying on the United States’

James Bamford: Inside the NSA’s Largest  Secret Domestic Spy Center 

Drones In America

Drones To Fly Over Midwestern Farms

Judge Napolitano Discusses Drones And Big Brother 

Judge Napolitano : 30,000 Drones In U.S. Skies to spy on you violates Constitution (May 14, 2012)

30,000 ARMED DRONES to be used Against Americans

Phantom Eye: Pentagon builds gigantic mega-drone

Attack of the Drones – USA 

The Drone War Coming to a Town Near You?

The Stream:      The future of drone technology

The Slow Decline of Liberty – The Plain Truth – Judge Napolitano – Freedom Watch

Total surveillance: Thousands of secret court orders allow government to spy on Americans

SOPA, CISPA, FISA

FISA: US under total surveillance

Is The Government Spying On You? FISA Continues 

Obama administration pushes to renew FISA

NSA under fire: Supreme Court to review Legality of Warrantless Wiretapping/Spying of U.S. Citizens

Big Brother spying on your car 

FBI Caught Spying on Student with GPS Tracking Device

Anonymous Big Brother’s All Seeing Eye For Your Safety

SOPA changes name to CISPA

CISPA going international?

US House passes CISPA

Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act

CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, is picking up sponsors and it looks like the legislation will make it to the House floor for a vote next week. CISPA emerged from the House Intelligence Committee with an overwhelming vote of 17-1.
The bill, authored by Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, is supported by Google, the technology company in bed with the CIA and responsible for building the Great Firewall of China. Google is not alone in supporting CISPA. Corporate sponsors include Facebook, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Verizon, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others, according to the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, long a champion of rights online, has signed on to two coalition letters urging legislators to drop their support for HR 3523. The coalition behind the privacy letter includes dozens of groups, including the ACLU, the American Library Association, the American Policy Center, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and many others, according to the EFF website.
The letter warns: CISPA creates an exception to all privacy laws to permit companies to share our information with each other and with the government in the name of cybersecurity…. CISPA’s ‘information sharing’ regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like internet use history or the content of emails, to any agency in the government including military and intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency or the Department of Defense Cyber Command. Once in government hands, this information can be used for any non-regulatory purpose so long as one significant purpose is for cybersecurity or to protect national security

Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act – CISPA –  More Insights, pls see video responses

SOPA changes name to CISPA 

CISPA: Another Fascist Takeover of the Internet. EMERGENCY ALERT! 

Anonymous – CISPA Worse than SOPA

Ubiquitous Computing: Big Brother’s All-Seeing Eye – Part 1

Ubiquitous Computing: Big Brother’s All-Seeing Eye – Part 2

Words to Avoid Online Unless You Want Government Snooping

Revealed: Hundreds of words to avoid using online if you don’t want the government spying on you (and they include ‘pork’, ‘cloud’ and ‘Mexico’)

  • Department of Homeland Security forced to release list following freedom of information request
  • Agency insists it only looks for evidence of genuine threats to the U.S. and not for signs of general dissent

By Daniel Miller

“…The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2150281/REVEALED-Hundreds-words-avoid-using-online-dont-want-government-spying-you.html#ixzz1xDZrBiPm

NAPOLITANO: Big Brother’s all-seeing eye

Use of military surveillance drones overhead would be un-American

“…For the past few weeks, I have been writing in this column about the government’s use of drones and challenging their constitutionality on Fox News Channel, where I work. I once asked on air what Thomas Jefferson would have done if – had they existed at the time – King George III had sent drones to peer inside the bedroom windows of Monticello. I suspect Jefferson and his household would have trained their muskets on the drones and taken them down. I offer this historical anachronism as a hypothetical only, not as someone who is urging the use of violence against the government.

Nevertheless, what Jeffersonians are among us today? When drones take pictures of us on our private property and in our homes and the government uses the photos as it wishes, what will we do about it? Jefferson understood that when the government assaults our privacy and dignity, it is the moral equivalent of violence against us. Folks who hear about this, who either laugh or groan, cannot find it humorous or boring that their every move will be monitored and photographed by the government.

Don’t believe me that this is coming? The photos that the drones will take may be retained and used or even distributed to others in the government so long as the “recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function” in requiring them. And for the first time since the Civil War, the federal government will deploy military personnel insidetheUnitedStates and publicly acknowledge that it is deploying them “to collect information about U.S. persons.” …”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1UhF0apVhg

George Carlin – The Owners of This Country

Lying Politicians  And Words

Background Articles and Videos

Is the NSA reading your e-mail?

Spying on the Home Front 

Judge Napolitano ‘If Cops Don’t Have A Warrant Don’t Open The Door’

Obama’s secret drone war explained by Reuters’ David Rohde – Fast

Judge Napolitano – Obama Makes Free Speech A Felony!!!  BILL H.R. 347

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