NSA rules leaked, allow warrantless spying on Americans

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(via EFF)

The two sets of rules governing the use of surveillance data of Americans have been published by The Guardian. Each set is 9 pages long. And while both purport to prohibit the acquisition of emails, phone calls and other data from Americans, the exceptions to these prohibition swallow the rules. It is clear that the rules do allow the collection of significant data from Americans. From The Guardian‘s article:

However, … the Fisa court-approved policies allow the NSA to:

• Keep data that could potentially contain details of US persons for up to five years;

• Retain and make use of “inadvertently acquired” domestic communications if they contain usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cybersecurity;

• Preserve “foreign intelligence information” contained within attorney-client communications;

• Access the content of communications gathered from “U.S. based machine[s]” or phone numbers in order to establish if targets are located in the US, for the purposes of ceasing further surveillance.

The broad scope of the court orders, and the nature of the procedures set out in the documents, appear to clash with assurances from President Obama and senior intelligence officials that the NSA could not access Americans’ call or email information without warrants.

Read the entire article and documents for the full picture of domestic spying on Americans without a warrant.

And there is more from the New York Times.

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Mr. Obama said when the news broke.

But as experts on American intelligence knew, that was not the whole story. It left out what N.S.A. officials have long called “incidental” collection of Americans’ calls and e-mails — the routine capture of Americans’ communications in the process of targeting foreign communications.

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They show, for example, that N.S.A. officers who intercept an American online or on the phone — say, while monitoring the phone or e-mail of a foreign diplomat or a suspected terrorist — can preserve the recording or transcript if they believe the contents include “foreign intelligence information” or evidence of a possible crime. They can likewise preserve the intercept if it contains information on a “threat of serious harm to life or property” or sheds light on technical issues like encryption or vulnerability to cyberattacks.

And while N.S.A. analysts usually have to delete Americans’ names from the reports they write, there are numerous exceptions, including cases where there is evidence that the American in the intercept is working for a terrorist group, foreign country or foreign corporation.