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That is the summary statement from the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, regarding NSA and FISA Programs and U.S. Citizen's 4th Amendment rights ...

History and Jurisdiction

The United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) is a committee of the United States House of Representatives, currently chaired by U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers (Michigan). The HPSCI is charged with the oversight of the United States Intelligence Community, which includes the intelligence and intelligence related activities of 17 elements of the US Government, and the Military Intelligence Program.

Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence -- NSA FISA Programs

Committee Links and Documents:

The 4th Amendment Expectation of Privacy

• The Supreme Court has long held that we do not have a 4th Amendment expectation of privacy in information we voluntarily publish to the public. They do not have a 4th Amendment expectation of privacy in records created by businesses based upon information voluntarily turned over to the business, including the numbers dialed to make or receive a telephone call.

 • This isn’t the legal reasoning of the intelligence community. This is the law of the land as handed down by the Supreme Court. And it has been well-settled law for over 30 years.

 • In Smith v. Maryland, the Supreme Court held that law enforcement's collection of telephone numbers called from a particular telephone line was not a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and thus no warrant was required.

 • And it’s the long-standing procedure used by law enforcement every day in criminal investigations. Telephone toll records do NOT require a warrant in criminal investigations because they are not protected by the 4th amendment.

 • Despite this, Congress chose to require a court order for telephone call data records in intelligence investigations

 • And Section 215 orders can only be used to obtain the same type of data that can be acquired through a grand jury subpoena.

 • And let’s be clear here, the metadata program at issue here does NOT involve any collection of the content of a person’s telephone calls. THAT, unlike telephone call data records generated by the phone companies, would require a warrant.

Oh, really?   "Phone Content" is not collected, filtered, cataloged, analyzed, and watched?

Yeah but, what about ... those days when we had to watch what words -- what Key-words -- we spoke over the telephone?  For fear of triggering some sort of "Homeland Alert" ...

We're sure are glad those days are over ... aren't we?

Our recent hair-on-fire history is filled with many twist and turns, some of which have decidedly ventured outside the bounds of 4th Amendment cautions, constraints, and protections ... despite (or because of) the best intentions of Congress.

Russell D. Tice (born 1961) is a former intelligence analyst for the U.S. Air Force, Office of Naval Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and National Security Agency (NSA). During his nearly 20 year career with various United States government agencies, he conducted intelligence missions related to the Kosovo War, Afghanistan, the USS Cole bombing in Yemen, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In December, 2005, Tice helped spark a national controversy over claims that the NSA and the DIA were engaged in unlawful and unconstitutional wiretaps on American citizens. He later admitted that he was one of the sources that were used in The New York Times reporting on the wiretap activity in December 2005. [...]

Tice was terminated by the NSA in May 2005, just days after publicly urging Congress to pass stronger protections for federal intelligence agency whistleblowers facing retaliation. In September 2005, the inspector general issued an unclassified report that found "no evidence" to support Tice's claims.[citation needed]

In December 2005, Tice alleged the NSA and the DIA were engaged in unlawful and unconstitutional conduct against the American people, and helped spark a national controversy. Tice stated that the activities involved the Director of the NSA, the Deputies Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations, and the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and were conducted via very highly sensitive intelligence programs and operations known as Special access programs (SAP), more commonly referred to as 'black world' programs, or 'black ops'. Tice was a technical intelligence specialist dealing with SAP programs and operations at both NSA and DIA.[citation needed]

In a press release issued by the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition on December 22, 2005,[3] Tice explained the public aspect of his charges, stating that,

"As a Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) officer it is continually drilled into us that the very first law chiseled in the SIGINT equivalent of the Ten Commandments (USSID-18) is that Thou shall not spy on American persons without a court order from FISA. This law is continually drilled into each NSA intelligence officer throughout his or her career. The very people that lead the National Security Agency have violated this holy edict of SIGINT."

On December 23, 2005, the Austin American-Statesman, reported Tice's allegations that spying on Americans may involve a massive computer system known as ECHELON, which is able to search and filter hundreds of thousands of phone calls and e-mails in a matter of seconds.

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]

And about that footnote [5]:
Schmid, Gerhard (2001-07-11). "On the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON interception system), (2001/2098(INI))" (pdf - 194 pages). European Parliament: Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System. Retrieved 2013-01-05.

The EP report, can be found buried in another dust-bin of history; No doubt a report that few bothered to read, in our haste to put out all those hairy-fires ... everywhere.

Session 1999 - 2004

FINAL A5-0264/2001

PAR1 11 -- July 2001

on the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial
communications (ECHELON interception system) (2001/2098(INI))

Rapporteur: Gerhard Schmid

3.3.2. Scope for the automatic analysis of intercepted communications:
the use of filters ...................... 35


3.3.2. Scope for the automatic analysis of intercepted communications: the use of filters

When foreign communications are intercepted, no single telephone connection is monitored on a targeted basis. Instead, some or all of the communications transmitted via the satellite or cable in question are tapped and filtered by computers employing keywords -- analysis of every single communication would be completely impossible.

It is easy to filter communications transmitted along a given connection. Specific faxes and e-mails can also be singled out through the use of keywords. If the system has been trained to recognise a particular voice, communications involving that voice can be singled out[21]. However, according to the information available to the rapporteur the automatic recognition to a sufficient degree of accuracy of words spoken by any voice is not yet possible. Moreover, the scope for filtering out is restricted by other factors: the ultimate capacity of the computers, the language problem and, above all, the limited number of analysts who can read and assess filtered messages.

When assessing the capabilities of filter systems, consideration must also be given to the fact that in the case of an interception system working on the basis of the ‘'vacuum-cleaner principle' ’those technical capabilities are spread across a range of topics. Some of the keywords relate to military security, some to drug trafficking and other forms of international crime, some to the trade in dual-use goods and some to compliance with embargoes. Some of the keywords also relate to economic activities.

5.6. Information from authors and journalists specialised in this field

5.6.1. Nicky Hager’s book

The ECHELON system was first described in detail in the book "‘Secret Powers– -- New Zealand’s role in the international spy network’," published in 1996 by the New Zealand author Nicky Hager.

He draws on interviews with more than 50 persons who were employed by the New Zealand intelligence service, GCSB, or otherwise involved in intelligence activities. He also analysed a wide range of documents from national archives, newspapers and other published sources. According to Hager, the global interception system is referred to as ECHELON, and the network computers as ECHELON Dictionaries.

Hager says that interception of satellite communications is the core activity of the current system. The interception by ground stations of messages sent via Intel satellites --– the first global satellite communication system[94] -- began in the 1970s. Such messages are then searched by computer for specific keywords and/or addresses in order to filter out the relevant communications. Surveillance activity was later extended to other satellites, such as those of Inmarsat[95], which concentrated on maritime communications.

In his book, Hager points out that the interception of satellite communications represents only a small, albeit important, part of the eavesdropping system, for there are also numerous facilities for monitoring microwave and cable links, although these are less well documented and their existence is more difficult to prove, since, unlike ground stations, they are rather inconspicuous. ECHELON is thus synonymous with a global eavesdropping system.

(Got to wonder how far Voice-Recognition software has progressed in a decade? Hmmm?)

Hey, I remember those Bush-Strikes-Back ECHELON days.  Back when I had to watch my words, when talking to my friends and family on the phone.  Couldn't even use the words referencing the current events of the day, because THAT might trigger some 'Keyword Filter', and get us re-routed to some bored 'Black Ops' analyst.  

The uneasy joke at the time was, 'You never know WHO might be listening in ... and if you are listening now by the way, 'I haven't done anything wrong.' ... we're just talking about 'current events', OK?"

My, how quickly we forget.  Good thing those days are gone, eh?

And good thing, these guys haven't forgotten.  These 'good guys' have been dutifully collecting, filtering, cataloging, analyzing, and watching -- those otherwise still yet "undisclosed" DNI/NSA capabilities, to {cough} "protect our freedoms":

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) -- NSA Spying News Articles

It's really all their fault, by the way -- For being so damn FOI pro-Constitution.  How do they expect the NSA to do their warrant-less jobs, anyways?  

With all that Citizen-based Sunlight in their squinty faces ... ???

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Comment Preferences

  •  I know where I'd like the law to stand. (5+ / 0-)

    That is squarely on the side of the right to personal privacy and the strict protection of civil liberties. However, I think that it has some ample loopholes that give the security state a lot of wiggle room. The 4th amendment as written speaks in terms of tangible property. With information and communication we are really talking about privacy. Listening to a phone conversation doesn't deprive you of property, but it is certainly an invasion of personal privacy.

    The US constitution does not have an explicit guarantee of a right to privacy. Some courts have seen the 9th amendment implying it, but that is not well established.  

    •  I just want (5+ / 0-)

      some serious and genuine Congressional Oversight.

      They speak for us,

      SO why are they being kept in the dark?

      as Udall and Wyden have recently warned,

      before them Feingold.

    •  btw that New "tangible property" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aliasalias, bobswern

      definition in the Patriot Act rewrite, has some egregiousness "wiggle room" too:

      An Act
      To deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes.

      SHORT TITLE.—This Act may be cited as the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001”.



      “(a)(1) The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or a designee of the Director (whose rank shall be no lower than Assistant Special Agent in Charge) may make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution.
        “(2) An investigation conducted under this section shall—
          “(A) be conducted under guidelines approved by the Attorney General under Executive Order 12333 (or a successor order); and
          “(B) not be conducted of a United States person solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

      “(b) Each application under this section—
        “(1) shall be made to—
          “(A) a judge of the court established by section 103(a);
        “(2) shall specify that the records concerned are sought for an authorized investigation conducted in accordance with subsection (a)(2) to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.
        “(2) An order under this subsection shall not disclose that it is issued for purposes of an investigation described in subsection (a).

      “(d) No person shall disclose to any other person (other than those persons necessary to produce the tangible things under this section) that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained tangible things under this section.

        “(e) A person who, in good faith, produces tangible things under an order pursuant to this section shall not be liable to any other person for such production. Such production shall not be deemed to constitute a waiver of any privilege in any other proceeding or context.

      •  That seems to require a (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


        •  which presumably (0+ / 0-)

          the secret FISC issues.

          how would we know?

          There is no duty for them to inform us,

          and next to no sunlight on the FISA Court.

        •  It does sound like it requires a warrant (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jamess, aliasalias, wonmug

          Doesn't it?  Except, it really doesn't.

          “(a)(1) The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or a designee of the Director (whose rank shall be no lower than Assistant Special Agent in Charge) may make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things
          From the quoted law in the comment you replied to you see the above passage.  The important thing to note is what is in bold - "may make an application" rather than "shall make an application".

          Further, the section of law goes on to say:

          “(2) An investigation conducted under this section shall
              “(A) be conducted under guidelines approved by the Attorney General under Executive Order 12333 (or a successor order); and
          Now here note the use of the word shall this means it must be done as specified.

          What do we find in Executive Order 12333? This little passage here at the start of Section 2.5:

          2.5 Attorney General Approval. The Attorney General hereby is delegated the power to approve the use for intelligence purposes, within the United States or against a United States person abroad, of any technique for which a warrant would be required if undertaken for law enforcement purposes, provided that such techniques shall not be undertaken unless the Attorney General has determined in each case that there is probable cause to believe that the technique is directed against a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. Electronic surveillance, as defined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, shall be conducted in accordance with that Act, as well as this Order.
          Now that is very important. The Executive Order is making a distinction of 4th Amendment protections in terms of warrants as ONLY applicable to criminal investigation and not to intelligence activities.  The part in particular being "... for which a warrant would be required if ...".  The 4th Amendment, in fact, is not limited ONLY to government actions in regards to criminal investigations. But there it is.

          Under the Executive Order authority is delegated to the Attorney General to approve data gathering without a warrant.

          Has the Supreme Court said that the 4th Amendment ONLY applies to criminal investigations and never to other intrusions by the government, that there is a warrantless exception for intelligence gathering?

          So, what we have here is part of the obfuscation surrounding the Executive Branch's narrow interpretation of the 4th Amendment and the requirements for warrants.

          They aren't getting warrants for any of this stuff.

      •  NSA, in conjunction with telco's, warehouses... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        humphrey, jamess

        ...the data. When it involves domestic calls, with both parties in the U.S., the FBI and other authorized entities (federally and locally) access the data. Additionally, there has been EXTENSIVE speculation, by extremely reputable sources, that--much like a great deal of offshored securities trading that occurs on Wall Street, and other business-related efforts, such as the upcoming trade agreements set for "fast-track" passage on Capitol Hill--much of the review of domestic call data is now occurring "legally" in England, where the U.S. subsidizes the GCHQ to the the tune of over $150 million per year, and where the NSA also has at least 250 known employees working.

        Stating the obvious, and just like Guantanamo, etc., etc., what happens outside of our national borders stays outside of our national borders; even when it's about what's inside our national borders!

        It's not just Russell Tice, as I've noted in my posts over the past 18-24 months. It's Tim Clemente, Mark Klein, Bill Binney, J. Kirk Wiebe, Jim Bamford (reporting on all of the above and more) and, yes, Edward Snowden, and others.

        "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

        by bobswern on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 08:52:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Certain Senators (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aliasalias, Wee Mama

    have been saying, now hold on there a minute,


    Leahy (+ 10 others) "not convinced" NSA's bulk collection program "produces meaningful intelligence"
    by jamess -- Aug 03, 2013

    Pop Quiz: Which Section of the Patriot Act has actually stopped Plots: Section 215 or 702
    by jamess -- Aug 04, 2013

    Shouldn't we be backing up their efforts,

    to get us back to some Constitutional balance?

  •  Congressional oversight is a joke (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess, corvo, Crider, phillies, aliasalias

    If they have a secret court and national security letters there's nothing to stop them.

    Not only that, it's a gravy train.

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 01:09:20 PM PDT

  •  It seems "requires a warrant" means (3+ / 0-)

    you intend to use in a criminal proceeding.  

    That is why we have the evidence laundering discussed in BobDevo and Joan's diaries of today.

    It appears to me they are collecting, not necessarily listening to or intending to use in a criminal proceeding, but when they do, they launder the source to make the evidence admissible.

    He who would trade liberty for security deserves great customer service.

    by Publius2008 on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 01:12:02 PM PDT

  •  Regarding metadata, please be sure to see this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess, aliasalias

    excellent diary from earlier today: .

    It hit the rec list for only about 30 seconds, but it's one of the most eye-opening articles I've seen yet in this area.

  •  Are they recording content? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess, we are legion

    The most revealing answer appears to be the size of the Utah disk farm (yottabytes) and the question "what information requires a yottabyte to store?"  If content is not being recorded the needed storage capacity would be a shade smaller.

    I note that my phone line now sends me an email with the transcribed text of each recorded message.  The transcripts, doubtless by computer, are extremely good.

    Restore the Fourth! Save America!

    by phillies on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 01:59:27 PM PDT

  •  Metadata is just the kernel of NSA wiretapping (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Have you heard of 6 degrees of seperation ,  sort of what the NSA is snooping for a person of interest

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