NSA Security

Wrong Again


Did you hear the story about the NSA collecting information on millions of phone calls in France and Spain?

That was the big scoop this week from our pal Edward Snowden, but it was completely and utterly wrong.

From the Wall Street Journal

U.S. intelligence officials studied the document published by Le Monde and have determined that it wasn’t assembled by the NSA. Rather, the document appears to be a slide that was assembled based on NSA data received from French intelligence, a U.S. official said.

Based on an analysis of the document, the U.S. concluded that the phone records the French had collected were actually from outside of France, and then were shared with the U.S. The data don’t show that the French spied on their own people inside France.

U.S. intelligence officials haven’t seen the documents cited by El Mundo but the data appear to come from similar information the NSA obtained from Spanish intelligence agencies documenting their collection efforts abroad, officials said.

To recap — the NSA did not collect the data. French and Spanish intelligence collected the data. French and Spanish citizens were not included in the data. French and Spanish intelligence collected data on overseas targets and then shared that data with the NSA.

And there’s nothing wrong with any of that. Not a single thing.

France and Spain are members of NATO that share intelligence with their allies, including the United States, on a regular basis.

Of course the all-spying, all-invasive, all-usurping NSA of yore is now an urban legend that will be talked about at UFO conventions for decades to come. It doesn’t matter how inaccurate the reports are.

  • mrbrink

    Cattle mutilations are up.

  • feloniousgrammar

    I have no way of sorting the anti-Islamic propaganda from reliable information on terror threats in France and Spain, but it can’t be zero. The work of intelligence agencies cooperating with other intelligence agencies contributes to all kinds of good causes like non-proliferation efforts that don’t make the news. The idea that these operations can be successfully carried out with radical transparency is ridiculous. Law enforcement and investigation is not a crime.

  • Tony Lavely

    I really wanted Clapper to say in the hearing “What do you think you’re paying me to do?”

    • FlipYrWhig

      Oh my God. This spy agency is FULL OF SPIES!

      • feloniousgrammar

        I know, right? The “sheeple” are waking up into a nightmare of their own making, which, for some strange reason, seems more real to them than the boring facts. It’s not like there are no corrections and additional oversight that could be reasonably put into place, but they insist that a perfectly legitimate agency be destroyed to satisfy their silly yearnings.

  • nogatorfan

    Sometimes I wonder if you work for NSA.

    • JMAshby

      I wish. I’m certain they’re paid more than I am.

    • feloniousgrammar

      This probably isn’t the best place to cultivate your paranoia. There is a multitude of conspiracy forums for you to choose from.

    • Freibiergesicht

      Ugh, why is it everytime people try to inject nuance to a conversation where the conspiracy theorists have gone mad, they’re accussed of working for the evil organization?

      But you know what, so what if he did? The funny thing about working for parts of the govt that are targeted by the far left and far right as being part of evil conspiracies is that you get a first hand look into the facts. I never realized how absolutely shitty our media was on reporting military activities until my husband got a job with the DoD and the Libya invasion happened. Obviously he can’t tell me everything, because I don’t have a clearance, but there was information in the public record that was being ignored, and “journalists” like Greenwald were lying their asses off.

      The truth of the matter is, the scariest thing about most govt organizations is that they’re made up of normal people, some of them fairly dumb, and they’re not particularly efficient. Once you actually know people who work for Homeland Security or DoD or the NSA you realize that any kind of massive conspiracy to actively take basic rights away from citizens is just impossible. This doesn’t mean the NSA doesn’t have way too much reach right now, but they are not “out to get you”.

  • BlueTrooth

    And there was a report the President had “signed off” on the mythical surveillance not conducted by the NSA. This entire story ran on the Fox News tactic of “some people say” and anonymous quotes out of context. The real quote went something like “well, IF the NSA had collected the data, the President would not only be aware, but he would sign off on it”. This premise is now applied to any alleged spying…speaking of which, the very word “spying” is now so arbitrary the biggest “Spy Network” is Google! Everything is spying! While the NSA has archived data for decades, 99% of that “metadata” (or more) has never been searched or utilized, but its SPYING by golly!!! I’m not saying the NSA isn’t overpowered and really needs restraints, but I refuse to play the “lying is ok if it helps the cause” game.

    • feloniousgrammar

      Yeah. President Obama is so busy micromanaging the NSA and writing code for healthcare.gov that it’s a wonder he can come up for air.

      Why is it that so many “journalists” appear to have no understanding of how our three branches of government work? They also appear not to have a clue about the size and scope of government agencies and how they’re structured or what their missions are. I guess going to agency websites and reading what is there is too hard and it would spoil the narrative.

      Framing the NSA as an organization that carries out the impossible task of spying on every single person that they can find data on is insane. In-fucking-sane. These hackers and thieves appear to see themselves as giants stomping through organizations that keep secrets and destroying them. When they imagine themselves the great arbiters of what should be revealed to the public, they are also imagining themselves to be more powerful and privileged than everyone else. These people weren’t elected to represent us, and they clearly have no understanding of the information they’re publishing or of the value of secrecy and discretion. I will enjoy the spectacle of seeing them cut down to size. They can whine and cry “tyranny” all they want, but they are the tyrants, and they are lazy tyrants.

    • drspittle

      And mythical “reporters” mindlessly repeat the data dumps without questioning or providing context. I feel like I’m inhabiting a bizarro, alternate Greenwaldian universe.

  • brif
    • drspittle

      Bob who?

  • Reilly

    Bill Keller must be feeling pretty good about including this admonition in his back-and-forth with Greenwald yesterday: “So my advice is: Learn to say, “We were wrong.””

  • Henk Ahrens

    WRONG AGAIN!!The NSA collected with the HELP fro Spanish intel and French intel and GErman intel.THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEY DID NOT COLLECT!!!

    • Badgerite

      That would sort of imply that those governments signed off on whatever. does it not? So, they can rag at their own governments and leaders if they want, ( and if I were a citizen of say, Spain, I might think twice about that after thinking about the bomb attack at the Madrid train station ) but not at the NSA. I imagine some of Angela Merkel and other European leader displeasure is posturing to politically immunize themselves.

      • Freibiergesicht

        That’s exactly what it is. I have no doubt that Merkel has a good idea as to the extent of US spy activities, but she’s stayed in power as long as she has by expressing populist outrage whenever the people get worked up over something, be it nuclear power over Fukashima or this.

  • trgahan

    oh..wait…I got this one:
    “That’s exactly what U.S. Intelligence Officials would say, MMMAAAANNNN! Open your eyes, sheepeople! “

    • Badgerite

      Just because ‘they’ would say it, does not mean it is not true. Go ‘sheepeople’ yourself.

      • “And what did not go wrong under Bush?”

        Exactly….just another shitty thing he did that we can add to the list, surprising no one with half a brain.

        • Badgerite

          The country will have to clean up for decades. DECADES!

      • Freibiergesicht

        I’m not sure if I buy the whole “Germany is more sensitive b/c of their past” line that I keep hearing in U.S./British media. For starters, half the country never dealt with the Stasi, and the younger generation, the kids that are voting Piraten Partei and the like, have no memory of that time, anyway. Plus the rest of Europe is equally pissed. Honestly – and this is coming from an American who lives in Germany who is not a big flag-waver or anything – I think there’s a segment of the European population that just really, really likes having something to complain about vis a vis America. And since the wars are winding down and Bush isn’t in office anymore, well, this is something to feel outrage at us over.

        • Badgerite

          Personal experience and knowledge always trumps conjecture. But either way, the purpose of the leadership can still be to immunize themselves politically. And to be seen as siding with the feelings of their people.

          • Freibiergesicht

            Yup. Merkel is a politician. A boring one, by American standards, but she goes where the wind of populist outrage takes her. She’s a total pragmatist.

        • Fabius_Maximus

          I know I’m late to the party, but I have small correction. The whole country had to deal with the Stasi. A lot of people in the West were approached by agents for the purpose of recruitment as informant. A lot of them find out they have a file on them when they look for it in the archive.

  • i_a_c

    The narcissism has reached new highs with the leaking of information on who the USA is spying on, and in this case, some of that information isn’t even true. I share some concerns about mass domestic data collection, but this whole “onoez the US spies on other countries” is just bogus outrage. It’s about embarrassing the United States, when everyone with half a brain knows that most of these other countries try to spy on us, too. God forbid that Germany gets its own Edward Snowden who reveals that the German fainting couch over US spying is totally fabricated.

    • Cassanos

      On the contrary – Germany cannot have an Edward Snowden per se, because the gathering of intelligence on our own people is limited by the law. The BND (the German foreign intelligence agency), however, was quite happy to use the data the NSA gathered for themselves, circumventing our own laws. So – yay! Everybody’s spying not just on “legitimate” targets such as heads of state, but on, well, everybody. That doesn’t doesn’t make the NSA’s operations any easier to stomach, it just makes everyone else worse.

      • feloniousgrammar

        The NSA is also bound by law. That’s why they have to get warrants and those warrants have to be warranted. The fact that it was abused under the Bush Administration doesn’t mean that it is an essentially lawless organization that can’t be redeemed. Order has been restored since Bush left office.

  • Craig Moffitt

    So the Greenwald 24-hour rule is in effect, go figure. The next time anyone encounters one of the hair-on-fire types who still eat this stuff up. Please ask them what they think yellow journalism back in the day and how what Greenwald, Snowden and Co. are doing is any different.