More Bullshit from an agency that's clearly unused to being questioned about anything it does.
The NSA has issued a statement in response to Barton Gellman's article in the Washington Post:
Regarding that FISC Court's decision that the NSA's data collection procedures violated Americans' Constitutional rights? Gosh, they didn't want to have to explain that one. But for what it's worth:
The FISC’s finding was with respect to a very specific and highly technical aspect of the National Security Agency’s 702 collection. Once the issue was identified and fully understood, it was reported immediately to the FISC and Congress. In consultation with the FISC, the Department of Justice, NSA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence worked to address the concerns identified by the FISC by strengthening the NSA minimization procedures, thereby enhancing privacy protections for U.S. persons. The FISC has continued to approve the collection as consistent with the statute and reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.It was "very specific and highly technical." In other words, you couldn't possibly understand it, and we're not about to explain it to you. Oh, and once the issue was identified and fully understood (no telling how many months or years that means), it was "reported immediately." Go back to your Facebook.
It's nice that they "reported" it "immediately" and "worked to address the concerns" of the Court. Of course, the statement doesn't really say whether they stopped the procedure, whatever it was. Just that the Secret Court with its Secret Opinions is double-plus A-OK with the new Secret Procedures and they no longer conflict with that one Secret Opinion (which we weren't ever supposed to know about in the first place). Just take our word for it.
Meanwhile, "the collection" will continue...
Regarding those thousands of violations of Americans' Constitutional rights? Well, "looking over" those, the numbers go up and down, you know?:
The NSA communications office, in coordination with the White House and Director of National Intelligence, declined to answer questions about the number of violations of the rules, regulations and court-imposed standards for protecting the privacy of Americans, including whether the trends are up or down. Spokesmen provided the following prepared statement.We're really shooting for that downward "trend" of infringing on Constitutional rights. But these things are complicated, 'ya know? We'll take it up at our next quarterly meeting, after we crunch the numbers, m'kay? Can you just go back to your Facebook now?
Looking over a 3-year period that includes the 1st first quarter 2010 through second quarter 2013, the data for that quarter are above the average number of incidents reported in any given quarter during that period. The number of incidents in a given quarter during that 3-year period ranged from 372 to 1,162. A variety of factors can cause the numbers of incidents to trend up or down from one quarter to the next. They include, but are not limited to: implementation of new procedures or guidance with respect to our authorities that prompt a spike that requires “fine tuning,” changes to the technology or software in the targeted environment for which we had no prior knowledge, unforeseen shortcomings in our systems, new or expanded access, and “roaming” by foreign targets into the U.S., some of which NSA cannot anticipate in advance but each instance of which is reported as an incident. The one constant across all of the quarters is a persistent, dedicated effort to identify incidents or risks of incidents at the earliest possible moment, implement mitigation measures wherever possible, and drive the numbers down.
The Post interviewed the NSA's Director of Compliance, John DeLong, for information regarding its expose. At that time John DeLong assured the Post he could be fully quoted on some of his responses after "an internal review."
But the Post said they wouldn't accept edited quotes. That didn't go over so well:
Two days later, White House and NSA spokesmen said that none of DeLong’s comments could be quoted on the record and sent instead a prepared statement in his name. The Post declines to accept the substitute language as quotations from DeLong. The statement is below:The NSA statement addresses its internal procedures for reporting Constitutional violations and other concerns, evidently in language more carefully chosen than that originally provided by its Director of Compliance:
We want people to report if they have made a mistake or even if they believe that an NSA activity is not consistent with the rules. NSA, like other regulated organizations, also has a “hotline” for people to report — and no adverse action or reprisal can be taken for the simple act of reporting. We take each report seriously, investigate the matter, address the issue, constantly look for trends, and address them as well — all as a part of NSA’s internal oversight and compliance efforts. What’s more, we keep our overseers informed through both immediate reporting and periodic reporting. Our internal privacy compliance program has more than 300 personnel assigned to it: a fourfold increase since 2009. They manage NSA’s rules, train personnel, develop and implement technical safeguards, and set up systems to continually monitor and guide NSA’s activities. We take this work very seriously.The statement doesn't specify how many instances of suspected Constitutional violations were "reported" to the "hotline" by NSA employees, although I'm sure they were reassured by the agency's promise not to take "adverse action" or "reprisals" against them, at least "for the simple act of reporting."
The NSA does not appear to have a similar "hotline" for the rest of us.
Update: The earlier version of this Diary mischaracterized the NSA's statement as directed to the American public. That is wrong, it is clearly referencing the an internal reporting procedure. My F-up, and h/t to WisePiper for alerting me to it.