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Marcy Wheeler has been providing brilliant and downright historically significant commentary on the NSA story since long before the public ever heard the name, Edward Snowden. This week, as I've noted in comments in this community, she's to the point where she's outdoing herself, and proving beyond any doubt the she is, indeed, the person whom Newsweek refers to as: "The Woman Who Knows The NSA's Secrets."

From a comment I posted here on Wednesday morning...

Clear history of massive phone CONTENT dragnet...

...that exists to this day at a domestic level, has been all but fully documented by Marcy Wheeler's analysis over the past 72 hours. Everyone's been dancing around this subject since June. But, it is there, and self-evident in black and white, even without full disclosure of the 2006 [FISA Court decisions and], White House memos/directives regarding same, to date.

Her coverage and analysis has been nothing short of brilliant. And, she's definitively on the verge of flat-out stating what I'm mentioning here, too. (That's self-evident just by reading her commentary/analysis since Monday, as well.)

Earlier today, IMHO, Ms. Wheeler pretty much clinched at least a nomination into the final round of the 2014 Pulitzer awards for investigative journalism, with the publication of a piece that's nothing short of stunning and of vital historical import. I strongly urge those reading this to give her work this week--and today's post, in particular--a full read, to understand why I'm making these statements...

8 Years Later, NSA Still Using Same PR Strategy to Hide Illegal Wiretap Program
Posted on November 21, 2013 by emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler)

Between these two posts (one, two), I’ve shown that the Executive Branch never stopped illegally wiretapping Americans, even after the worst part of it got “shut down” after the March 2004 hospital confrontation. Instead, they got FISC to approve collection with certain rules, then violated the rules consistently. When that scheme was exposed with the transition between the Bush and Obama Administrations, the Executive adopted two new strategies to hide the illegal wiretapping. First, simply not counting how many Americans they were illegally wiretapping, thus avoiding explicit violation of 50 USC 1809(a)(2). And, starting just as the Executive was confessing to its illegal wiretapping, moving — and expanding it — overseas. Given that they’re collecting content, that is a violation in spirit, at least, of Section 704 of FISA Amendments Act, which requires a warrant for wiretapping an American overseas (the government probably says this doesn’t apply because GCHQ does much of the wiretapping).

One big discovery the Snowden leaks have shown us, then, is that the government has never really stopped Bush’s illegal wiretapping program.

That actually shows in the PR response the government has adopted, which has consisted of an affirmative and a negative approach. The affirmative approach emphasizes the programs — PATRIOT Act Section 215 and Section 702 of FAA — that paralleled the illegal wiretap program (I’m not conceding either is constitutional, but only the upstream collection under 702 has been deemed an explicit violation of the law). This has allowed the government to release a blizzard of documents — Transparency!™ — that reveals some shocking disclosures, without revealing the bigger illegal programs. But note how, when the revelations touched on the Internet dragnet (which should be no more revelatory than the phone dragnet), ODNI tried to obscure basic details by hiding dates (even if they left those dates in one URL).

Meanwhile, the I Con has invested energy in trying to undermine every story that touches on the larger illegal wiretapping programs. When WSJ reported that the NSA has access to 75% of the Internet traffic in the US, I Con released a misleading rebuttal. When, in the wake of a NYT report that NSA and GCHQ were using vastly expanded contact chaining (which we now know was initiated just as the illegal domestic program was being revealed) to produce dossiers on people, even inattentive members of Congress started asking about upstream collection and EO 12333 violations, top officials first distorted the questions then refused to answer them. When various outlets in Europe revealed how much spying NSA and GCHQ were doing on Europeans, the I Con unleashed their secret weapon, the “conjunction,” which succeeded in getting most National Security journalists to forget about GCHQ’s known, voracious collection.

Then there’s the response to WaPo’s report that NSA had returned to its old ways of stealing data from Google and Yahoo. At first, I thought they were just engaging in their typical old non-denial denials. They were doing that, sure, but as Bart Gellman revealed during his debate with Michael Hayden (just after 44:00), they also tried to undermine WaPo’s report by refusing to engage at all...

...Almost 8 years ago, when NYT revealed the illegal wiretap program, the Bush Administration largely succeeded in hiding the biggest legal problems with the program by focusing attention on just a small fraction of the program, which they dubbed the “TSP,” while hiding the rest. Remarkably, the I Con is still using precisely the same strategy to hide what remains structurally the same illegal wiretap program that has, however, ballooned in size.

And, yes, I've been writing about this story here for a couple of years now, as well. Even communicating a few times with Marcy at her blog on the topic, too!

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