From Spencer Ackerman at the Guardian, late on Tuesday…
NSA review panel casts doubt on bulk data collection claims(Bold type is diarist's emphasis.)
January 14th, 2014
…Michael Morell, a former deputy CIA director, told the [Senate Judiciary] committee that so-called “metadata” about a phone conversation inherently entailed information about the substance of the communication. “There is quite a bit of content in metadata,” Morrell said. “There’s not a sharp distinction between metadata and content...”
...Morrell added that the bulk collection of domestic phone data “has not played a significant role in preventing any terrorist attacks to this point,” further undercutting a major rationale offered by the NSA since the Guardian first revealed the bulk phone-data collection in June, thanks to leaks by Edward Snowden…
Here’s Marcy Wheeler’s take…
Radical Idea: the Legislature Ends Smith v. Maryland(Bold type is diarist's emphasis.)
Posted on January 14, 2014 by emptywheel
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with the NSA Review Group just finished. There was no earth-shattering news. Perhaps the best one-liner from the hearing came when former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell said that metadata is content (and I’m grateful he said it early in the hearing so it will make the evening news). Bizarrely, he claimed he just learned that while working on this report which is rather … unconvincing.
At the very end of the hearing, however, Senator Richard Blumenthal said something equally as important, which went something like,Smith v. Maryland is about as outdated as any Supreme Court [sic] can be. Congress has an equal responsibility to protect the Constitution as the Supreme Court. There is no need to wait for the Supreme Court.It’s a great idea, for the legislature to end Smith v. Maryland’s encroachment on the Constitution, and he’s right, Congress does have the authority to act.
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Elsewhere, on the front page of Wednesday’s NY Times, we’re now learning that the NSA has pretty much tapped most of the fiber optic cables on the planet. You know? Those telecom lines via which most Internet, cellular and landline (once the telcos have converted copper cable data to fiber optic cable data at most switching stations) “metadata” is transmitted.
Not only that, but for quite a few years, we’re now being informed that the NSA has been able to pickup data via radio transmissions from computers that do not even have links to the Internet, nor any other networks for that matter…
N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into ComputersUnless I missed the story in my quick perusal of Wednesday’s NYT, online (or, the story had not appeared online as of the time of my publishing of this post), it must’ve been just an oversight on the part of the editorial staff of the paper, in terms of how they missed the “little” story reported by the Guardian and Marcy Wheeler, above. (Either that, or the Times' Washington Bureau just took the day off.) You know? The story where it’s now confirmed (for the umpteenth time, but in this instance by a former/recent top CIA employee) that our government’s been lying through their teeth inasmuch as their use and definition of the term, “metadata,” is concerned.
By DAVID E. SANGER and THOM SHANKER
New York Times
January 15th, 2014 (Page A1)
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks.
While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials.
The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.
The radio frequency technology has helped solve one of the biggest problems facing American intelligence agencies for years: getting into computers that adversaries, and some American partners, have tried to make impervious to spying or cyberattack. In most cases, the radio frequency hardware must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user…
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