The NSA's 2014 Media Engagement and Outreach Plan

Interesting post-Snowden reading, just declassified.

(U) External Communication will address at least one of "fresh look" narratives:

  1. (U) NSA does not access everything.
  2. (U) NSA does not collect indiscriminately on U.S. Persons and foreign nationals.
  3. (U) NSA does not weaken encryption.
  4. (U) NSA has value to the nation.

There's lots more.

Posted on August 30, 2017 at 6:15 AM • 26 Comments

Comments

GlennAugust 30, 2017 7:25 AM

The messages in #1,#2 and #4 are statements that are vague enough that they can be spun no matter what the organization was doing. But the 'narrative' in #3 is a very specific claim which is at odds with their push for so-called "key escrow" such as Clipper, and their likely back-dooring of a NIST standard. Clearly the withdrawal by NIST of Dual_EC_DRBG had made the NSA realize how much the public trust had been eroded.

veritrasheumAugust 30, 2017 7:33 AM

Translation, simple terms:
1. Because they don't need to and would be silly to do so.
2. Their discrimination is very fairly distributed but finely tailored to exclude narco terrorists and other useful elite. Behold ambiguity
3. Nope, just the very infrastructure it relies on. They aren't magical beings that change math at will. At least they obey that rule.
4. Just ask third party contractors and those siphoning the black budget. "value" as in a=x
....proceed to:
3. (U) We operate under the rule of law. Or, we make the rules as we go along, especially with language, eg "law".

@all
Seems I've won the stigma of truther or something, as nobody has replied to any comments. This is final post (under this handle or its variations). Objectivity will get you all eventually.

eyerollAugust 30, 2017 8:29 AM

Wouldn't be a complete month without the hateful circle jerk against intelligence agencies on Schneier's blog would it?

MeAugust 30, 2017 9:02 AM

This text is black.

Nsa is better than lawyers
Give them a few years and that text will be dark grey, than grey and in the end that will be white...

I yet saw an article that say that nsa sp only a 0,0001 percent of communications and in the comments "wow so low" while i remember that only in america it wa greater than 75 percent

carrotsAugust 30, 2017 9:11 AM

1) This doesn't actually tell anything about their practices, only that their reach isn't the impossible 100%. Plenty of human rights violation and unconstitutional monitoring fit under that.

2) Boolean logic would say this is true if they don't indiscriminately spy on US persons, but do so on foreign nationals.

3) NSA does not have to weaken encryption, only the stuff around it: RNGs, endpoints, implementations...

4) This is kind of true. But the intelligence industrial complex is seriously damaging the democratic process. In 1988, Margaret Newsham blew whistle on ECHELON WAN precisely because US was spying on their own politicians and citizens.

http://www.duncancampbell.org/menu/journalism/newstatesman/newstatesman-1988/They%27ve%20got%20it%20taped.pdf

If the power is not on politicians but intelligence establishment with leverage on each of them, elections become meaningless.

Nombre No Importante'August 30, 2017 9:49 AM

This is what happens when Congress passes a bill that allows for the government to use Proporganda freely.

TimHAugust 30, 2017 10:23 AM

Sigh. As I remember, NSA etc has different interpretation of words like 'collect' and 'access', in the sense that the words don't cover data has been grabbed and stored, nor when it has been searched, but ONLY when a useful result is obtained from an analysis and examined by a person.

Chairman MaoAugust 30, 2017 10:38 AM

This actually means a merger of the CIA with the NSA.

Both are trying to justify their existence. I'd expect a lot more unbelievable terror attacks and human sacrifices to be on the front page over the next several months. Each incident will have a story about how the NSA/CIA saved 8 billion or move lives -- including puppy dogs and kittens.

Teddy RAugust 30, 2017 10:42 AM

What's the big deal here...it's a messaging campaign. Looks like standard PR for any group / corporation / government.

RapportAugust 30, 2017 10:56 AM

As history has shown, NSA representatives love to play word games. All the more reason they can't be trusted.

Screening the communications of hundreds of millions of U.S. citizens for information about foreign intelligence is still screening the communications of hundreds of millions of Americans. It shows a breathtaking abuse of discretion. Just because bureaucracy limits who in the NSA and FBI and CIA (according to declassified FISA court docs) and plenty of other agencies (courtesy of one of Obama's parting executive order) gets to see what information doesn't somehow make this okay.

In the words of Chief Justice Ronerts: "the Founders did not fight a revolution to gain the right to government agency protocols".

Chairman MaoAugust 30, 2017 11:03 AM

@Rapport

Screening the communications of hundreds of millions of U.S. citizens.

As history has shown, NSA representatives love to play word games. All the more reason they can't be trusted.

"For purposes of this act:

"US Person" means an inhabitant of the 10-mile-square area known as the District of Columbia."

It means they won't spy on themselves.

RhysAugust 30, 2017 11:26 AM

Sometimes I wonder if we, collectively, learned anything from Ollie North's disinformation campaigns.

Or if we, collectively, have lost the ability to know the difference between when we are being "sold" versus when we are being "told".

Although, Teddy R, I think Peter Sellers'/Inspector Clouseau would have put an accent on a different syllable in "messaging" than text only readers would 1st assume.

I do think its a bit of a waste to slam the Agencies for doing what they are asked to do by their Government. The policies are worth some derision. PATRIOT Act and removal of posse comitatus. FISA courts w/no constitutional amendment. More.

Then a financing of government that entangles public policies with the particular interests of debt owners.

Hard to give credit for collective wisdom when you have (435+100+2) all having their own, personal burning-bush in their backyards. Navigating that pond of anointed to eek out a career is the best appointed servants can hope to do.

wumpusAugust 30, 2017 12:09 PM

@Glenn: Clearly the withdrawal by NIST of Dual_EC_DRBG had made the NSA realize how much the public trust had been eroded.

I'm always gobsmacked that Microsoft researchers could point out the keyhole of the backdoor in Dual_EC_DRBG and the "public trust" in the NSA was so high they could still deny it. It wasn't until Snowden had leaked that they had sabotaged "at least one official cryptosystem" that there was an official belief (I've read employee data security handbooks that say "any approved NIST cryptosystem except Dual_EC_DRBG") that they kept the key to the backdoor they made.

That was some impressive "public trust". I can't imagine they will ever get anything like it again.

LorinAugust 30, 2017 2:08 PM

For those of us who are not NSA insiders/experts... WTF are "NSA SEALS", as in (quote):

7-13 September -- NSA SEAL Engagements
(U//FOUO) NSA SEALs will speak at... (a bunch of universities).

Just curious -- I'm pretty sure that these are not members of Navy SEAL Teams.

Chairman MaoAugust 30, 2017 6:28 PM

@Rhys

Or if we, collectively, have lost the ability to know the difference between when we are being "sold" versus when we are being "told".

The problem with "collective thinking" is that individuals don't need to know how to think.

"Collectively" is like cheating on a math final (aka copycats).

65535August 30, 2017 10:34 PM

“(U) External Communication will address at least one of "fresh look" narratives:
1. (U) NSA does not access everything.
2. (U) NSA does not collect indiscriminately on U.S. Persons...
3. (U) NSA does not weaken encryption.
4. (U) NSA has value to the nation.” –governmentattic

Oh, sure thing! "The least untruthful statement..." and all.

Nice propaganda project to make the NSA bedroom bird dogs look like heroes.

Exactly, now much did this propaganda project cost the US Tax Payers and their Five eye counterparts? One Million USD? Five Million USD? Or, 50 Million USD? Good propaganda doesn’t come cheap – especially from the NSA.

225August 31, 2017 3:29 AM

@Lorin

SEAL might mean Security Education Academic Liaison, which might be related to (CAE-CD)... training for how to not be hacked by others, possibly.

Dan HAugust 31, 2017 6:43 AM

Nice to see Bruce is still herding the sheep. Always has to be some NSA/CIA article to keep the negativity and false allegations alive.

Of course, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, never spy on their own citizens. It is always bad Uncle Sam.

Random AnonAugust 31, 2017 7:45 AM

Dan H said: Of course, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, never spy on their own citizens. It is always bad Uncle Sam.

Strawman. Nobody here has ever stated or implied that "Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba never spy on their own citizens" or that this behavior is limited to the USA.

I personally think every nation with an IC spies on its own citizens in some capacity, or at least spies on allied nations' citizens and compares notes to be able to claim they don't spy on their own.

I think many of us are cynical, so that may be apparent in the tone, but it sure as heck doesn't make us sheep. The NSA is on record being dishonest with words or outright lying about their bulk collection practices against Americans or against foreign nationals (such as Merkel). Even under oath to Congress as with DNI.

I'm sure there's plenty of fantastic, diligent, and honest people in our IC. This is not about them. It's about the international reputation -- the black eye -- and how well-deserved it is.

Jared HallAugust 31, 2017 9:07 AM

@Dan H: What good's a security forum without the fun of prodding the good ol' NSA/CIA? Since you posted here you are probably already being investigated!

Look, Russia, NK, Cuba, China all suck. So why do we have to suck too? Two wrongs don't make it right. NSA can't beat these guys by thinking like them. Regarding the overall function of the American IC, I think the terrorists have already won.

Don't think for one nanosecond that the NSA won't run you over in their bus and drag your carcass forever until someone stops them. They are devoid of social conscience.

Now regarding the original article, NSA's great PR plan requires a FOIA form just to get it disclosed. That's PR mistake #1. The information then gets released from JOHN R. CHAPMAN, Chief, FOIA/PA Office, NSA Initial Denial Authority. "Initial Denial Authority"? That's PR mistake #2. Yes, I feel warm and fuzzy already.

To address specific "Fresh Look" points therein:

1. (U) NSA does not access everything.
- No, only as much as they can.

2. (U) NSA does not collect indiscriminately on U.S. Persons and foreign nationals.
- Yes, tell that to The Intercept and Reality Winner. Anything you've ever said can and will be used against you at a time to be determined by the NSA.

3. (U) NSA does not weaken encryption.
-Maybe not, but they don't strengthen it either. I cite the whole DES fiasco(s) and AES S-Box attacks. They are known to have lobbied behind the scenes against the use of crypto on so, so many instances.

4. (U) NSA has value to the nation.
- Probably. So does the common ant or honey bee.

To address the "Core Messages points therein:

1. (U) We protect the Nation.
- Sure. So do a lot of other people.

2. (U) We support our allies.
- What is an ally? The Election Hack data leaked by Winner went to Five Eyes and FISA. I bet the French could've used that information. So could the Germans. So could any antivirus company worldwide. Instead, NSA did NOTHING. With allies like that, who needs enemies?

3. (U) We operate under the rule of law.
- NSA stretches the law and ensures that no laws that affect their "missions" are passed. You and I will never seen encompassing InfoSec laws because of the NSA. They are devoid of social conscience. Can you imagine the impact of a simple law that said, "You shall not classify anything that is public knowledge?". The NSA would vaporize overnight.

4. (U) We are accountable to the American people.
- No, NSA is NOT accountable in the least. The effort and money expended just to get this stupid document are a testament to that; A FOIA filing just to get what amounts to an unclassified document. To be accountable, you have to have a social conscience; always. See #3 above. It is the American People that judge the NSA. It is the out-of-touch lack of social conscience that is contributing to the major IC leaks that we have today. The Post-WW1 British Intelligence doctrine doesn't work effectively anymore. But what is the #1 rule of reorganization? Don't!

Regarding the NSA poster: "The NSA has your back":

A tagline should be added that reads: "Yes, its under the bus with the rest of your carcass."

That said, I'm not necessarily an opponent of the NSA either. But in true IC fashion, I'll neither deny or confirm any evidence of my existence :)

Gerard van VoorenAugust 31, 2017 2:59 PM

2014. Such a long time ago. Now the USA has become Trump-voting-country.

Obviously I am skeptical as well, for the same reasons that others have pointed out before in this thread. It's all about budget. Without oversight and accountability they are as pervasive as their budget allows them to. Their budget is huge.

But if they mean to be "the good guys", there is only one way of proving that. Officially pardon the guys who showed the world the NSA with their pants down. The rest is all unverifiable BS.

MarkAugust 31, 2017 6:44 PM

Propaganda and American rubbish. We know what they do thanks to Snowden and others.

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