Merry Christmas from the NSA

On Christmas Eve, the NSA released a bunch of audit reports on illegal spying using EO 12333 from 2001 to 2013.

Bloomberg article.

The heavily-redacted reports include examples of data on Americans being e-mailed to unauthorized recipients, stored in unsecured computers and retained after it was supposed to be destroyed, according to the documents. They were posted on the NSA's website at around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

In a 2012 case, for example, an NSA analyst "searched her spouse's personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting," according to one report. The analyst "has been advised to cease her activities," it said.

The documents were released in response to an ACLU lawsuit.

Another article.

EDITED TO ADD (12/27): Remember Edward Snowden's comment that he could eavesdrop on anybody? "I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you, or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President if I had a personal email." Lots of people have accused him of lying. Here's former NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker: "All that makes Snowden's claim about being able to wiretap anyone extremely unlikely -- and certainly not demonstrated by the latest disclosures, despite Glenn Greenwald's claims to the contrary."

These documents demonstrate that Snowden is probably correct. In these documents, NSA agents target all sorts of random Americans.

Posted on December 26, 2014 at 6:29 AM • 28 Comments

Comments

Daniel RutterDecember 26, 2014 6:42 AM

If you can make it past "NSA goes to great lengths to ensure compliance with the Constitution, laws and regulations", then you have a stronger constitution than me.

ThothDecember 26, 2014 6:42 AM

Wow ... that brings a whole new meaning to insider job:

In a 2012 case, for example, an NSA analyst "searched her spouse's personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting"

The privacy and binding agreements of a husband and wife to be faithful and honest to each other do not exist anymore especially in the WEST.

===== Begin Personal Opinions =====

If I were the significant half of the analyst, I do just divorce him/her right away.

===== End Personal Opinions =====

That is how low the NSA would stoop/resort to and I won't be surprised the other national HSAs would also be doing the same thing.

Philip December 26, 2014 9:28 AM

"If you can make it past "NSA goes to great lengths to ensure compliance with the Constitution, laws and regulations", then you have a stronger constitution than me." Well said, well said

WinterDecember 26, 2014 9:28 AM

So it seems that spying on Americans is not an offence you get fired for at the NSA.

Suggests it is part of their job?

hoodathunkitDecember 26, 2014 9:59 AM

Nobody seems to think of the obvious: If sworn agents are willing to illegally track people over amorous interests, how many have targeted people over financial interest? It would take no time at all to rack up a fortune on the stock market with almost unlimited access to certain communications, even just the metadata.

Dirk PraetDecember 26, 2014 10:21 AM

@ Daniel Rutter, @ Philip

If you can make it past "NSA goes to great lengths to ensure compliance with the Constitution, laws and regulations", then you have a stronger constitution than me.

You should know better by now than to take NSA statements at face value. They probably mean that they consult a company called Great Lengths over compliance issues.

d33tDecember 26, 2014 1:36 PM

"The documents were released in response to an ACLU lawsuit." As part of a carefully crafted NSA disinformation campaign designed to frame negative perceptions about illegal, mass surveillance and the alleged rampant abuse by multiple branches of the US Government look silly and unwarranted.

SoWhatDidYouExpectDecember 26, 2014 1:46 PM

The trove of data released by the spooks is only what they want you to see. Otherwise, you wouldn't get it. It is PR or a trap to ensnare citizens.

At some point, one might have to ask if the Snowden documents don't fall into the same category. It now rings much like what Bruce published with regard to "Santa Claus and the Surveillance State".

Is it all an effort to acclimate people to being monitored?

Witness the recent spate of police entanglements. Is this deliberate to get everyone used to what may soon be the norm in society?

Further, note the attention getting release of material with regard to the "torture" of captured (suspected) terrorists. It coincided with the rapid (and silent) rush through Congress (and signing into law) of a number of measures that put more of our tax dollars into the hands of the 1% and effectively remove constitutional protections from U.S. citizens.

Gerard van VoorenDecember 26, 2014 1:49 PM

I just watched Life of Brian. What the Monty Python guys realized long time ago is what I just realized:

We can't help but argue. That is just what we do. And we also don't care whether someone makes a point. We move on. Unless that someone is famous.

I just made this point. I am not famous. So move on!

ThomasDecember 26, 2014 3:01 PM

@Thoth

> If I were the significant half of the analyst, I do just divorce him/her right away.

If you were the SO of an analyst you'd probably believe them to work in the greeting-card business.

Clive RobinsonDecember 26, 2014 4:58 PM

@ Philip,

... then you have a stronger constitution than me.

Hey where I come from we don't even have a constitution for the security services to walk all over in muddy jackboots :-(

tyrDecember 26, 2014 5:08 PM


Lets see if I got this story correctly.
NSA analysts spouse is such a security risk to the USA
that the spouse phone list of contacts requires an in-depth
look to ferret out foreign criminal behaviors and contacts
of the spouse.

I think we need to have Skeptical explain this again so we
can see how it relates to the onward thrust of USAs moral
domination of the high ground.

On the other hand maybe we can get them on the Jerry Springer
show to explain it in their own words.

I'm sure the politicals will retroactively make this legal so
that we will be reassured of the benignity of our overlords.

This was probably the analyst who was watching ISIL (Intelligence
Systems Islamic Lamers) before they suddenly appeared from
nowhere to be greeted with cries of "we had no idea they were
there".

If I had 56 billion to spend I'd have every street urchin in
the middle east on my payroll, know what was going on there
and be a lot less surprised by events.

Clive RobinsonDecember 26, 2014 5:09 PM

@ Dirk,

How is the pony tail / rock god hair thing working for you B-)

I guess they know we all need an extra inch or two...

ThothDecember 26, 2014 6:18 PM

@Thomas
Yes I would have believed the analyst would be working in Walmart until a honeypot goes live with signals :D .

Who ask them to steal from a honeypotted telephone directory.

@Clive Robinson
Same here regarding constitution. Remember ?! We copied your laws when you guys left us ? Some (Most) of your Ye Olde Laws dating to very olde era is still usable here to put random people into the abyss forever.

@tyr
It would be nice if we have Skeptical representing the Govt front of the USA to explain to us what they are trying to do here and probably provide more documents if they have.

@Dirk
The company called Great Lengths supplied them with very good models and that's what is going on now with all the issues.


===== Begin Lesson =====

Never trust their PR. They suck at it. :) .

===== End Lesson =====

Clive RobinsonDecember 26, 2014 7:15 PM

@ Thoth,

Yes "English Law" is one of our great exports that include, greed and disease. Others is the people we have "oppressed" it has been said that "An engine needs a Scottish engineer" and "It's only a mine when there is a Cornish man working it".

Oh and the US has so many Irish men, because the English land lords decided to starve them out of Ireland, some have suggested that with all the hurt hate and pain it caused it should be called "ire land". Similarly Scotts in Canada and New Zeland, oh and all our criminals to the likes of Australia...

It's a wonder that anybody speaks to us these days. However whilst our track record is not great, it's better than some such as some of the "Continental European" nations. Worse though, is our politiciags lack of moral fiber, a look at history shows that the "British Empire" was expanded way beyond what was politicaly accepted due to the actions of the French, or scheming of adventurer exploiters such as Cecil Rhodes, Sir Stamford Raffles, et al, who made ignominy and explotation a proffession and used manipulation of the british press etc to force the hand of parliment in supporting them...

Lessons aplenty there if people would but learn from them...

Former Sleep Study SubjectDecember 26, 2014 10:05 PM

Does anyone know of anyone else of whom a sleep study was being conducted on an internet user? This was being done on me and my wife and is and was expressly prohibited at the Nuremburg Doctors Trials by Military Tribunal One. Don't ask me how I know this was being done but was cancelled in the process. A little bird told me. But it was being done and I want to see the perpetrators prosecuted.

TripDecember 27, 2014 8:17 AM

I've always thought that the Freedom of Information Act, and those who actually think that a government can be compelled to provide information it doesn't want anyone to see, are just adorable.

albertDecember 27, 2014 4:59 PM

Well, I AM relieved. It's "highly unlikely" that an NSA sysadmin, like Snowden, could wiretap anyone, even the President. But it certainly must be likely that someone can tap someones phone somewhere at some time. True?
.
@Trip
The FOIA was an anomaly that history will view with amazement and nostalgia.
.
@Former Sleep Study Subject
I'm sorry. I fell asleep reading your post.
.
@Clive Robinson
Just finished watching the last of the Johnny Worricker Trilogy. Well done! As long as you guys keep producing this kind of quality stuff, Britannia rules the waves! (the airwaves, that is).
.
@tyr
Don't poke the Sleeping Bear (good advice for the US too).
.
@Thomas
"...the greeting-card business..." indeed! Would you believe...?
.
@Daniel Rutter
We DO have a strong Constitution; it just gets soft when you pee on it.
.
Happy New Year Everyone!
.
I gotta go...and not a moment too soon....

DarrenDecember 27, 2014 9:02 PM

@ albert
Snowden's slides are confusing. First, there's store-all claim, and then he goes on to say things like he can wiretap anybody he wants which implies wiretapping must be initiated to affect.

Snowden has also been very quiet about Sony Pictures hack, did not offer any of his usual expert analysis on this. his silence is rather interesting.

user100555December 27, 2014 9:17 PM

@hoodathunkit


Nobody seems to think of the obvious: If sworn agents are willing to illegally track people over amorous interests, how many have targeted people over financial interest? It would take no time at all to rack up a fortune on the stock market with almost unlimited access to certain communications, even just the metadata.

Wouldn't surprise me if there is a queue of analysts checking on Warren Buffet's (and other movers and shakers) on-line behavior.

(Not sure if their system allows multiple analysts to simultaneously monitor the same person)

Coyne TibbetsDecember 28, 2014 8:50 AM

If they're willing to reveal this, this just the tip of a monstrous iceberg. ("There! We're guilty! Just not of anything serious. Happy now?")

4f39f8u4398uDecember 28, 2014 3:22 PM

Here is data directly from us verifying all the stuff we denied repeatedly.. But don't worry citizens, we've told our employees to stop it,, again..

I think the US government knows at this point what the average citizen is too lazy and careless to respond to, and have it down to a science..

Oh my government has verified multiple times it thinks I'm stupid and lazy? Hey what time does Jeopardy come on and where is my cup of ice cold cola?

AlanSJanuary 1, 2015 9:16 AM

Happy New Year from the NSA!

Marcy Wheeler over on EmptyWheel spots that they did an additional dump before the New Year, "an even bigger wasteland for document dumps than Christmas Eve".

See

NSA Obfuscated to Congress about Back Door Searches in 2009

Also see her on-going analysis of Christmas Eve docs:

The Phone Dragnet Classified Appendix

Stellar Wind and the Intelligence Oversight Board Reports

How ABC Investigative Reports Turn into NSA Briefings to the SSCI

JBJanuary 1, 2015 10:07 PM

@Dirk,

"If you can make it past "NSA goes to great lengths to ensure compliance with the Constitution, laws and regulations", then you have a stronger constitution than me.

You should know better by now than to take NSA statements at face value. They probably mean that they consult a company called Great Lengths over compliance issues."

Who do they think they are, Aes Sedai?

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