Congress FISA NSA Security

Congress Briefed 22 Times on Section 702 of FISA Since 2011

Citing a senior administration official, Sam Stein reports that members of congress have been briefed 22 times on section 702 of FISA during President Obama’s tenure.

Emphasis mine.

According to the official, the sessions that took place over the course of 14 months starting in October 2011 touched on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act, which gives the attorney general and director of national intelligence the authority to gather intelligence on non-U.S. citizens for up to one year. Section 702 has been cited by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as the legal basis for the NSA’s PRISM program, which has allowed the government to track email communication data.

If the outrage is to continue, it would be nice if those who feel slighted by the government could at least clarify who they have concerns for.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, President Obama, the tech companies originally named by the Washington post, several members of congress including Al Franken, and administration officials have confirmed that the program is used to gather intelligence on foreign persons under FISA.

If you believe using FISA to gather information of foreign persons is wrong, that is an opinion that you’re entitled to have, but continuing to vaguely imply that Uncle Sam is spying on your every move here inside the United States using a blanket spying program is dishonest and misleading.

The claim that tech companies have provided sweeping direct-access to American’s data with no oversight remains unsubstantiated.

  • nellcote

    Any chance The Daily Banter (per your scrolling headlines) could stop calling that traitorous fuck a “whistleblower”? He’s clearly nothing of the sort.

    • JMAshby

      I have no control over that.

  • SlapFat

    Here’s how public opinion will play out with this issue: after about 2 weeks of news coverage both the media and the public will move on to something else. It’s an unfortunate reality.

    Regarding the NSA’s behavior itself I find these recent events and the Snowden “leak” extremely disturbing. For over a decade the National Security Agency has been growing at a freakish rate and instead of taking measures to actually address security there’s been, like so many agencies of its ilk, a more paranoid drive to harvest as much data as possible in the name of disaster prevention. It does not bode well for privacy- whether you’re an American or somewhere else. Here’s an article that lays out just how huge some of this is getting:

    For me personally I don’t see any excuse for this J. Edgar Hoover-esque crap to continue. And yeah, I know he was FBI, not NSA. There’s a place for the federal government in the lives of Americans, and it should be a significant one featuring universal healthcare, regulation of industry, and a level of the national playing field.

    But spying on anyone, foreign or domestic, is wrong. And it needs to stop.

    • DetroitSam

      Get real. And yet you would be the first one beating your chest if something was missed by not collect data on potential ter’rist.
      The government is not listening to your phone calls or reading your e-mails. So, get over it and try to us that organ that lives at the top of your hear to think things through.

      • Christopher Foxx

        And yet you would be the first one beating your chest if something was missed by not collect data on potential ter’rist.

        It’s a pretty weak rebuttal when all you can come up with is “yeah, yeah. In your heart of hearts you really agree with me.”

        How about responding to what he said, rather than claiming he’d react a certain way in some imaginary situation?

        • SlapFat

          You said essentially said everything I would have bothered to say to my little detractor. I thank you for that.

          This administration needs to stop continuing some of the invasive habits of the administration that came before it. The internet pretty much just needs to be left alone.

        • When you behave like a hall monitor, you will get down votes.

    • muselet

      I was pretty much with you up to your last paragraph.

      Spying, surveillance, call it what you will, is necessary. Not always and not of just any random body, and it’s often an unsavory activity, but it’s necessary.

      I do agree about the NSA, but the NSA grew in large part because of increasing demands placed on it by the political branches of government to collect more and more information. No doubt lots of people inside the Puzzle Palace think it’s cool to be able to hoover up every bit of electronic communication—and from a purely technical standpoint, it is—but since all that data can’t be analyzed there’s no real point in collecting it except to figure out what was missed.

      Smarter data collection with more oversight (even, dare I suggest, more public oversight of the FISA court) would be a good thing, except congresscritters are lazy and actually exercising oversight would mean being bored for a few hours a week while not being in front of cameras.

      In my more dyspeptic moments, I tend to agree with Charlie Pierce:

      Civil liberties are not something you get to “trade,” not least because they don’t all belong to you. They belong to me, too, and to the woman at the next table here at the Commonwealth Avenue Starbucks — Oh, c’mon, you knew where I was anyway, NSA guys. — and to the four people who just walked down the street past the big plate-glass window. You give yours away, you’re giving mine away, too, whether I want you to do so or not. Therefore, we all surrender those civil liberties. We do not trade them because we don’t get anything back. And it’s not like we can cut another deal later to get them back.

      Other times, I think Kevin Drum has the better argument:

      Even if NSA’s programs haven’t been abused yet, that doesn’t mean they’re okay. Likewise, even if they haven’t produced any great benefits yet, that doesn’t mean they’re stupid and useless.

      And of course Steve Benen reminds us this isn’t a new phenomenon:

      I realize there are sincere disagreements among credible observers about the propriety and efficacy of these NSA programs. But if we’re looking at a policy landscape in which, every few years, the nation pauses and asks, “Wait, we’re doing what? NSA surveillance is going how far?” then maybe it’s time for Congress to pause and take a closer look at where lawmakers have drawn the lines.

      The notion that we as a democracy cannot have any program that’s not fully open and transparent is nonsense; the real world doesn’t allow that. The notion that we cannot allow The Enemy, whoever that may happen to be this week, to know what we know and therefore some programs must be kept secret from the public is abhorrent. I’m disinclined to give Edward Snowden much credit for what he did, but if (and only if) this leads to meaningful public discussion and debate on the proper balance between privacy and surveillance, then I’ll cut him a little slack.

      Wow, this went on longer than I’d planned. Apologies for the logorrhea.


      • SlapFat

        There’s so many countries that adequately protect their populations without excessive surveillance, though. It’s part of their culture. So when I hear about the NSA doing this kind of stuff, just stockpiling data to sift through at their leisure, it all just seems so extreme and unnecessary. 9/11 was terrible, the Boston Bombings were awful, but we will not be able to undue those events by subsequently scanning anything and everything that even slightly looks suspicious. I don’t even think that stockpiling data is all that effective at prevention, to be honest, just paranoia.

        I think the Paul family is ridiculous, Glenn Greenwald is half-sophomoric/half-useful, and that now more than ever the federal government needs to have an increased role in the functioning of the U.S.- exponentially so. But this NSA gunk is not what it needs to do. This is what makes people fear the federal level of government.

        We’re capable of far better protection than this.

        • muselet

          I don’t disagree. I disagreed with your statement about spying, not about the NSA.

          Old-fashioned, “shoe leather”-style investigation is far more effective at finding bad guys than anything the NSA does (interception and analysis of electronic communication is a useful tool, but it’s not sufficient unto itself), but our political leaders don’t want to believe that. Indiscriminate collection of data is a waste of time, money, effort and electrons, but if the NSA doesn’t do it our political leaders will blame the agency for failing to collect *scary music sting* that one email or phone call that could have led to the arrest of a villain.

          Smarter, targeted, data collection and analysis with more oversight is needed, because, as I say, it can be useful. Better human intelligence is needed because that’s how crimes are solved and plots are thwarted, and yes, that does mean hiring more—and (much) smarter—cops and Feebs and spooks and training them (much, much) better.

          We’re capable of far better protection than this.

          Could not agree more.


          • SlapFat

            We’re more or less in accord.

    • mrbrink

      I see what you’re saying, and to an extent I agree with the sentiment. But over the past 10 years internet technology has exploded, so now there are teams of cyber terrorists working for foreign governments around the clock to expose the launch codes, knock out the power grid, and reveal the contents of Grant’s Tomb once and for all! — on top of traditional hijacker/car bomb terrorism that now uses the technology like everyone else– essentially blending in with civilians on the World Wide Web.

      I think It’s only natural that the U.S. counter-terrorism infrastructure reflects the times.

      I always hear the argument, too, that it’s because “OUR Guy” is in the White House that we’re not taking an alarmist position and we wouldn’t want a Republican administration to be defining these powers of the Executive branch.

      My solution to that is to stop electing right wing nutjobs to office who believe there are Communists in the State Department, and that Unions, Planned Parenthood and ACORN are just a few of the obstacles preventing the Great American Koch Brothers takeover of Democracy.

      And the only reason this would happen is due to the vote-depressing alarmists who keep crying wolf, who keep opening up the same Capone vault– who make it ‘uncool’ to support a Democratic president– who put the country’s progress and stability on permanent guard and in a constant state of insecurity. It happened as recently as 2010. When people jumped on Ed Schultz because he used his platform to discourage people from turning out for Democrats he was being prodded and peer-pressured by a steady stream of the same vote-depressing methods we see right now with the Manufactured Outrage Brigade(MOB). There are electoral consequences for allowing the MOB to determine whether or not we’re swearing in a Republican Senate in 2014 and Republican President with absolute power in 2016. Because the House is gone. Gone fishing until at least 2020– the next census year election. And that’s all because the turnout in 2010 was depressed by these bizarro world allegations and character assassins coming from the left flank. Some people aren’t old enough to know that the left will shoot itself in the foot to prove how much it loves itself.

      • SlapFat

        I think ultimately we agree on alot more than we disagree, Mr. Brink. I guess if nothing else this incident (which I’m not placing on the shoulders of the President since that would be ridiculous) shows how far we have to go until the federal government learns to manage its image and responsibilities better. If they do this kind of stuff it just give the conspiracy theorists and whackjobs more fodder for their audiences.

        The Fed has to be powerful and strongly present in American society if we want to progress in the way we need it to. We’re so overdue for it to start finally flexing its muscle if only we managed to fund it. But this kind of stuff with the NSA is exactly what it should not be doing.

        • mrbrink

          I know, SlapFat. And I dig where you’re coming from.