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Legal US Spy Chief Defends PRISM & Phone Surveillance (No Protections in India)

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Oprativ8, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. Oprativ8

    Oprativ8 United States
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    US spy chief Clapper defends Prism and phone surveillance

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22809541

    US spy chief James Clapper has strongly defended government surveillance programmes after revelations of phone records being collected and internet servers being tapped.

    He said disclosure of a secret court document on phone record collection threatened "irreversible harm".

    Revelations of an alleged programme to tap into servers of nine internet firms were "reprehensible", he said.

    Internet firms deny giving government agents access to their servers.

    The director of US national intelligence said he wanted to reassure Americans that the intelligence community was committed to respecting their civil liberties and privacy.

    • The Washington Post says one of the many things still unclear about the phone surveillance programme is why Americans didn't know about it. In an editorial, the paper says the public needs more explanation to be able to make a reasonable assessment of whether such programmes are worth the security benefits.
    • The New York Times says President Barack Obama "is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it". The Patriot Act should be sharply curtailed if not repealed, it says.
    • The Los Angeles Times says this week's disclosures underscore how US intelligence and law enforcement now "secretly glean vast amounts of information from communications technology".
    • The San Francisco Chronicle says the collection of phone records "conducted with only the barest legal oversight" is "another policy disappointment from a president who came to office promising to ease the worst of the panicky, ill-considered policies launched after the Sept. 11 attacks 13 years ago".

    He issued a strong-worded statement late on Thursday, after the UK's Guardian newspaper said a secret court order had required phone company Verizon to hand over its records to the National Security Agency (NSA) on an "ongoing daily basis".

    That report was followed by revelations in both the Washington Post and Guardian that US agencies tapped directly into the servers of nine internet firms to track people in a programme known as Prism.

    The reports about Prism will raise fresh questions about how far the US government should encroach on citizens' privacy in the interests of national security.

    The NSA confirmed that it had been secretly collecting millions of phone records. But Mr Clapper said the "unauthorized disclosure... threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation".

    The article omitted "key information" about the use of the records "to prevent terrorist attacks and the numerous safeguards that protect privacy and civil liberties".

    He said reports about Prism contained "numerous inaccuracies". While admitting the government collected communications from internet firms, he said the policy only targets "non-US persons".

    Prism was reportedly developed in 2007 out of a programme of domestic surveillance without warrants that was set up by President George W Bush after the 9/11 attacks.

    What this highlights is the way we now entrust our data and our privacy almost entirely to American companies, storing it in their "clouds" - vast data centres located in the US.

    Prism reportedly does not collect user data, but is able to pull out material that matches a set of search terms.

    Mr Clapper said the communications-collection programme was "designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-US persons located outside the United States".

    "It cannot be used to intentionally target any US citizen, any other US person, or anyone located within the United States," he added.

    Mr Clapper said the programme, under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was recently reauthorised by Congress after hearings and debate.

    "Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats," he added.

    But while US citizens were not intended to be the targets of surveillance, the Washington Post says large quantities of content from Americans are nevertheless screened in order to track or learn more about the target.

    The data gathered through Prism has grown to become a major contributor to the president's daily briefing and accounts for almost one in seven intelligence reports, it adds.

    The Washington Post named the nine companies participating in the programme as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple.


    In 2006 I was a plaintiff in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the government over a domestic spying programme. Other plaintiffs include the late Christopher Hitchens, and James Bamford, the author of a book, The Shadow Factory, about the NSA.

    The lawsuit stated that NSA officials may have eavesdropped on us illegally - and that the warrantless wiretapping programme should come to a halt. In 2007 an appeals court said that we could not prove that our calls had been monitored. As a result it did not have standing. The suit was dismissed.

    Microsoft said in a statement to the BBC that it only turned over customer data when given a legally binding order, and only complied with orders for specific accounts.

    "If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don't participate in it," Microsoft said.

    Meanwhile, Yahoo, Apple and Facebook said they did not give the government direct access to their servers.

    In a statement, Google said: "Google does not have a 'back door' for the government to access private user data."

    On Wednesday, it emerged that the NSA was collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans, after the Guardian published a secret order for the Verizon phone company to hand over its records.


    What the NSA found out

    The numbers of both people on the phone call
    How long the call lasts
    The time that the call is placed

    A senior congressman, House intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers, told reporters that collecting Americans' phone records was legal, authorised by Congress and had not been abused by the Obama administration.

    He also said it had prevented a "significant" attack on the US "within the past few years", but declined to offer more information.

    The order requires Verizon - one of the largest phone companies in the US - to disclose to the NSA the metadata of all calls it processes, both domestic and international, in which at least one party is in the US.

    Such metadata includes telephone numbers, calling card numbers, the serial numbers of phones used and the time and duration of calls. It does not include the content of a call or the callers' addresses or financial information.

    As surveillance practices come under scrutiny in the US, a new system to monitor phone and internet connections in India is being criticised as "chilling" by New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW).

    The Central Monitoring System (CMS) enables authorities to follow all online activities, phone calls text messages and social media conversations.

    The Indian government said in December 2012 the system would "lawfully intercept internet and telephone services". But HRW says the system by-passes service providers in a country that has no privacy law to protect people from arbitrary intrusions.

    In the UK on Wednesday, a committee of MPs criticised a decision to allow Chinese firms such as Huawei to become embedded in British network infrastructure without the knowledge and scrutiny of ministers.

    Huawei - which denies close ties with the Chinese state - signed a 2005 telecoms deal with BT to supply equipment for a £10bn major network upgrade.
     
    #1 Oprativ8, Jun 7, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2013
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  3. spnadmin

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  4. spnadmin

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    Reported by ABC - what are your thoughts?

    Obama: ‘Nobody Is Listening to Your Phone Calls’

    Video at this link http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/06/obama-nobody-is-listening-to-your-phone-calls/

    SAN JOSE, Calif. — President Obama today dismissed the “hype” surrounding his administration’s secret surveillance of Americans’ phone records and the nation’s Internet activity and defended the programs as key to protecting national security.

    “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” the president told reporters in his first public comments since the programs were disclosed.

    “They are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content. But by sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism,” he said.

    If the intelligence community wants to listen to a phone call, Obama said, they need approval from a federal judge.

    The president also said that data being collected on emails and Internet activity is targeted at foreign nationals and not U.S. citizens.

    Obama stressed that members of Congress have repeatedly been informed of these programs.

    “The programs that have been discussed over the last couple days in the press are secret in the sense that they’re classified, but they’re not secret in the sense that when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program,” he said.

    “The relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed on these programs. These are programs that have been authorized by broad, bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006. And so I think at the outset, it’s important to understand that your duly elected representatives have been consistently informed on exactly what we’re doing,” he added.

    Obama said that he welcomes the debate that has been sparked by the recent revelations.

    “One of the things that we’re going to have to discuss and debate is how [we're]striking this balance between the need to keep the American people safe and our concerns about privacy, because there are some trade-offs involved. And I welcome this debate. And I think it’s healthy for our democracy. I think it’s a sign of maturity,” he said.

    “It’s important to recognize that you can’t have a hundred percent security and also then have a hundred percent privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society,” he said.

    What he does not welcome, however, are national security leaks.

    “There’s a reason why these programs are classified,” he said. “There is a suggestion that somehow any classified program is a quote-unquote ‘secret’ program, which means it’s somehow suspicious. But the fact of the matter is, in our modern history there are a whole range of programs that have been classified.”

    “If every step that we’re taking to try to prevent a terrorist act is on the front page of the newspapers or on television, then presumably the people who are trying to do us harm are going to be able to get around our preventive measures. That’s why these things are classified,” he said.
     
  5. spnadmin

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  6. spnadmin

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  7. Inderjeet Kaur

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    Just one question:

    What will it take until the USA public collectively says:

    "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
     
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  8. spnadmin

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    At this time, I plan to keep my personal assessment of the story and situation "private."

    However, There is something truly weird about language used in the ongoing news coverage (I now have about 20 pdf copies of news stories streaming for 2 days). In fact all I wanted to do was post a paragraph from this fresh news article, with the newspaper link, and had a hard time deciding which one. They are all odd. Take any paragraph, analyze it and try to make sense. So here is one.

    from
    White House Plays Down Data Program
    By JONATHAN WEISMAN and DAVID E. SANGER

    The White House is calling PRISM an "internal government computer system." Okkkkk..

    "After rushing to declassify some carefully selected descriptions of the programs, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, conceded for the first time that the Prism program existed. But in a statement, after denouncing the leak of the data to The Guardian and The Washington Post, Mr. Clapper insisted it was “not an undisclosed collection or data mining program.” Instead, he said it was a computer system to “facilitate” the collection of foreign intelligence that had been authorized by Congress. "

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/u...as-fully-briefed-on-surveillance.html?hp&_r=0

    There are about 12 contradictions in this paragraph alone.
     
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  9. spnadmin

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    Here is another top secret slide from the classified PRISM documents published today by The Guardian

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/201...-1 bento-box:Bento box:Position2:anchor image

    "The slide details different methods of data collection under the FISA Amendment Act of 2008 (which was renewed in December 2012). It clearly distinguishes Prism, which involves data collection from servers, as distinct from four different programs involving data collection from "fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past". "
     

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  10. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Mai ji

    Let's monitor and see if this sort of report stimulates conversation

    Leading foreign policy analyst Steve Clemons said he witnessed a rather disturbing conversation while waiting for a flight at the Dulles airport on Saturday.

    According to Clemons, four men sitting near him were discussing an intelligence conference they had just attended, and turned to the topic of the NSA leaks. One said that both the reporter and leaker should be "disappeared," a term used to describe secret murders and abductions carried out by authoritarian governments. Clemons said on Twitter the suggestion seemed to be "bravado" and a "disturbing joke." He said that the officials were talking loudly, "almost bragging."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/08/intelligence-officials-nsa-leak_n_3409726.html
     
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  11. Harry Haller

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    :interestedsingh:
     

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  12. spnadmin

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    Might be foxhole humor of a sort, harry ji

    Somewhere there is a report that the number of Americans in prison, on a percentage basis, is in the top 4 worldwide.
     
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  13. Inderjeet Kaur

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    Eyes and ears open. Should any of us just "disappear" from the Internet, I guess we shouldn't assume illness any more.

    I read the slide show at the bottom of that page, "Politicians React To NSA Collecting Phone Records.

    I found a couple particularly unsettling, mostly because of who said them.

    SLICE!

    SLICE, SLICE!
     
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  14. spnadmin

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    Inderjeet Kaur ji

    Today the reach of this story has shrunk - suddenly and quietly - judging from my observation that on major tv network news sites I find only a story or two, again only a story or 2 on major newspaper sites, and a lot of second-guessing of the Guardian/Washington Post revelations on the part of pundits.

    The stories now dominating are about plans for criminal investigations of the leaks; and one editorialist reported that "sources" are drying up (politicians, political aids and government officials) who 2 days ago were willing to speak anonymously.

    I think you are pointing to a very significant issue in quoting the politicians so quoted. Media and the executive branch quickly defined this story in terms of the struggle between personal privacy and public safety. That is not how this story should be framed. Hands down, public safety will win in today's climate. It will furthermore win because of the inability of "those in the know" to tell us what they know and that an informed public needs to know - under penalty of criminal prosecution.

    The story needed to be framed in terms of government accountability versus public safety. But it was not framed that way. Too boring? Not emotional enough? Perhaps accountability doesn't come across as sexy as personal privacy. Representative government is not about personal liberty. That is myth. Under representative government individuals sacrifice individual rights, and agree to give personal powers to government, with the expectation that government will be accountable for its actions. Accountability includes continued dialog between government and the people or their representatives. Congress is the place where a very different kind of conversation should be happening. Briefings do not equal "informed consent." Let's see what happens next.
     
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  15. spnadmin

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    The short version of what I just said. The Obama administration did what it does very well and consistently. It seized control of the media conversation and immediately turned the story into a "healthy debate" about the "balance" between privacy and the war on terrorism. After that much of Congress and the media ran in a stampede away from the issue of "informed consent." Because? Who wants to seem to go light on terrorists?

    p/s Exactly 6 members of SPN have visited this thread so far.
     
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  16. Harry Haller

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    seven, if you count me twice
     
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  17. Inderjeet Kaur

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    I personally find the "terrorists" less reprehensible than what the government is doing right now. OMG! Did I really say that? Publicly? I guess some of us will never learn.

    Certainly both issues, privacy and accountability, are important. Privacy brings in the Fourth Amndment and anything suggesting attacking the Bill of <strike>Rites </strike> Rights is very sexy indeed.

    Government accountability is booooring. The current Administration may be disappointing, but they aren't stupid. If it goes the route of accountability, I see the possibility of impeachment in the future. Am I misunderstanding something here when I wonder why the Right Wing hasn't jumped on this big time? Perhaps if we called accountability the Right to know people would get interested.
     
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    #16 Inderjeet Kaur, Jun 10, 2013
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  18. Harry Haller

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    I think always gone on, sisji, it was just never as public
     
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  19. Inderjeet Kaur

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    Tonight we dine in hell.
     
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  20. Tejwant Singh

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    Could you please share the menu first? I always wanted to eat from the "Hell's Kitchen".
     
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    #19 Tejwant Singh, Jun 10, 2013
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  21. Inderjeet Kaur

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    I'm afraid you'll have to ask Harry Haller; the invitation came from his avatar. I can, however, guarantee that the food will be first rate, as those in hell have no fear of Maya and are given to hedonism.


    :interestedsingh::icecreamkudi::icecreammunda: :kaurfacepalm:
     
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