CBS: The NSA Network | Unfilter 79

CBS: The NSA Network | Unfilter 79

On Monday a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate American’s rights. A Federal Judge ruled that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans phone records almost certainly violates the protections of the 4th Amendment against unreasonable search.

Timed like an Amazon Cyber Monday ad, 60 Minutes attempts the boldest white wash of the facts and lies surrounding the NSA spying yet.

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On this week’s episode, of Unfilter.

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— Show Notes —

CBS Whitewashes the NSA

The reporting was conducted by John Miller, a former intelligence community official (who worked for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA) in a spokesperson role and a variety of historical roles in the intelligence community. While he does “disclose” the ODNI role upfront (but not the others), he left out that he’s about to be hired in an intelligence role for the NYPD, a deal that has been described as “a 99.44 percent done deal.”

Stripped of techie talk, this passage simply says “The NSA foiled a major plot, trust us.” But of course, there is no reason we should trust them. It’s like how the number of terrorist plots foiled by telephone eavesdropping started at 50 then was reduced to 12 then to 2 and then to 0, as the NSA was forced to justify their claims under oath instead of in front of news cameras.

The interview also featured an extensive attempt by NSA agents to discredit former contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden, who leaked documents this year revealing the extent of the telephone-records program and other efforts like PRISM, was described by CBS’ John Miller as a “20-something-year-old high school dropout contractor.” Discussing the NSA’s visit to Snowden’s former Hawaii home, Rick Ledgett, the agency’s head of an Edward Snowden task force, said he “couldn’t bring himself” to sit in Snowden’s chair.

Alexander went a step further, comparing Snowden to a murderer. “This is analogous to a hostage taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say, ‘if you give me full amnesty I’ll let the other 40 go.’”

Our take on five things the spy agency would like the public to believe about its vast surveillance powers

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”It’s Surely Orwellian”

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the program appears to violate the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. He also said the Justice Department had failed to demonstrate that collecting the information had helped to head off terrorist attacks.

Judge Leon was appointed to the bench by Republican President George W. Bush in 2002. Leon suspended enforcement of his injunction against the program pending an expected appeal by the government. The lawsuit was brought by conservative attorney Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch, and based on information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

  • Tea Party activist was plaintiff in landmark case against NSA
  • Notoriously litigious, he sued Clinton administration 18 times
  • Klayman is a former prosecutor for the US Justice Department
  • Larry Klayman in his own words: why I challenged the NSA in court

Klayman brought the case on behalf of Charles Strange, the father of Michael Strange, a cryptologist technician for the NSA and a support personnel member of Navy SEAL Team 6.

Michael Strange was killed in Afghanistan when his helicopter was shot down in 2011.

Charles Strange, as a subscriber of Verizon Wireless, brought the case against the NSA, Department of Justice and several U.S. officials, including President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

I think they are messing with me,” Klayman told the
court, according to Judge Leon’s memorandum from Monday.

Klayman told the court that “he and his clients had received
inexplicable text message and emails, not to mention a disk
containing a spyware program
,” Leon wrote


"Finally, we cannot discount the risk, in light of the lessons of our own history, that at some point in the future, high-level government officials will decide that this massive database of extraordinarily sensitive private information is there for the plucking. Americans must never make the mistake of wholly “trusting” our public officials."

The recommendation that the NSA no longer keep the phone database — estimated by some former officials to contain more than 1 trillion records — is among a set of sweeping technical reforms aimed at restoring public confidence in the spying apparatus, said individuals briefed on its contents.

The 200-page report’s 40-plus recommendations, also include barring NSA from asking companies to build “backdoors” into their software so that the government may gain access to encrypted communications. The NSA would also be prevented from undermining global encryption standards and prohibited from stockpiling “zero day” hacking tools that can be used to penetrate computer systems, and in some cases, damage or destroy them, according to the individuals, who were not authorized to speak on the record.

“I have significant doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism,” Leon wrote. “The government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature.”

Reading the actual letter, that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. While he does mention that without being granted political asylum, the US government “will continue to interfere with my ability to speak,” there does not appear to be any quid pro quo setup, in which he’s asking for asylum. He’s just laying out the situation.

The NSA’s ultimate goal is to destroy individual privacy worldwide, working with its UK sidekick GCHQ, journalist Glenn Greenwald warned an EU inquiry, adding that they were far ahead of their rivals in their “ability to destroy privacy.”


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