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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Obama administration had restrictions on NSA reversed in 2011

    Obama administration had restrictions on NSA reversed in 2011
    By Ellen Nakashima,
    Published: September 7

    The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.

    In addition, the court extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years — and more under special circumstances, according to the documents, which include a recently released 2011 opinionby U.S.

    District Judge John D. Bates, then chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

    Read the document

    What had not been previously acknowledged is that the court in 2008 imposed an explicit ban — at the government’s request — on those kinds of searches, that officials in 2011 got the court to lift the bar and that the search authority has been used.

    Together the permission to search and to keep data longer expanded the NSA’s authority in significant ways without public debate or any specific authority from Congress. The administration’s assurances rely on legalistic definitions of the term “target” that can be at odds with ordinary English usage. The enlarged authority is part of a fundamental shift in the government’s approach to surveillance: collecting first, and protecting Americans’ privacy later.

    “The government says, ‘We’re not targeting U.S. persons,’ ” said Gregory T. Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “But then they never say, ‘We turn around and deliberately search for Americans’ records in what we took from the wire.’ That, to me, is not so different from targeting Americans at the outset.”

    The court decision allowed the NSA “to query the vast majority” of its e-mail and phone call databases using the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of Americans and legal residents without a warrant, according to Bates’s opinion.

    The queries must be “reasonably likely to yield foreign intelligence information.” And the results are subject to the NSA’s privacy rules.

    The court in 2008 imposed a wholesale ban on such searches at the government’s request, said Alex Joel, civil liberties protection officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The government included this restriction “to remain consistent with NSA policies and procedures that NSA applied to other authorized collection activities,” he said.

    But in 2011, to more rapidly and effectively identify relevant foreign intelligence communications, “we did ask the court” to lift the ban, ODNI general counsel Robert S. Litt said in an interview. “We wanted to be able to do it,” he said, referring to the searching of Americans’ communications without a warrant.

    Joel gave hypothetical examples of why the authority was needed, such as when the NSA learns of a rapidly developing terrorist plot and suspects that a U.S. person may be a conspirator. Searching for communications to, from or about that person can help assess that person’s involvement and whether he is in touch with terrorists who are surveillance targets, he said. Officials would not say how many searches have been conducted.

    The court’s expansion of authority went largely unnoticed when the opinion was released, but it formed the basis for cryptic warnings last year by a pair of Democratic senators, Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Mark Udall (Colo.), that the administration had a “back-door search loophole” that enabled the NSA to scour intercepted communications for those of Americans. They introduced legislation to require a warrant, but they were barred by classification rules from disclosing the court’s authorization or whether the NSA was already conducting such searches.

    “The [surveillance] Court documents declassified recently show that in late 2011 the court authorized the NSA to conduct warrantless searches of individual Americans’ communications using an authority intended to target only foreigners,” Wyden said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Our intelligence agencies need the authority to target the communications of foreigners, but for government agencies to deliberately read the e-mails or listen to the phone calls of individual Americans, the Constitution requires a warrant.”

    Senior administration officials disagree. “If we’re validly targeting foreigners and we happen to collect communications of Americans, we don’t have to close our eyes to that,” Litt said. “I’m not aware of other situations where once we have lawfully collected information, we have to go back and get a warrant to look at the information we’ve already collected.”

    The searches take place under a surveillance program Congress authorized in 2008 under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the target must be a foreigner “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States, and the court must approve the targeting procedures in an order good for one year.
    But — and this was the nub of the criticism — a warrant for each target would no longer be required. That means that communications with Americans could be picked up without a court first determining that there is probable cause that the people they were talking to were terrorists, spies or “foreign powers.”

    That is why it is important to require a warrant before searching for Americans’ data, Udall said. “Our founders laid out a roadmap where Americans’ privacy rights are protected before their communications are seized or searched — not after the fact,” he said in a statement to The Post.

    Another change approved by Bates allows the agency to keep the e-mails of or concerning Americans for up to six years, with an extension possible for foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purposes. Because the retention period begins “from the expiration date” of the one-year surveillance period, the court effectively added up to one year of shelf life for the e-mails collected at the beginning of the period.

    Joel said that the change was intended to standardize retention periods across the agencies and that the more generous standard was “already in use” by another agency.

    The NSA intercepts more than 250 million Internet communications each year under Section 702. Ninety-one percent are from U.S.

    Internet companies such as Google and Yahoo. The rest come from “upstream” companies that route Internet traffic to, from and within the United States. The expanded search authority applies only to the downstream collection.

    Barton Gellman contributed to this report.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Heart of Dixie
    It seems that they are all inclusive. It seems that if they were able to spy this efficiently they had the ability to know where in the "shadows" the illegals were living and monitor all of their illegal activity including fraudulent tax returns, EBT fraud, voter fraud etc.. They just didn't want it to stop. JMO

    New DHS Memo Revealed

    Apr 30, 2009 2:19 PM EDT

    First, the Department of Homeland Security came under fire for a memo that warned of “right-wing extremists” that that pose a danger to the United States. Now, The Daily Beast publishes a new DHS memo that throws dozens more groups—Mexican separatists, black nationalists, Nordic mystics—under the bus.

    AP Photos

    The Department of Homeland Security set off a firestorm earlier this month when a memo surfaced that warned of right-wing extremists. The memo, which was issued to law-enforcement officials, suggested that extremists driven to dire straits by the Obama administration could recruit returning veterans to help produce Timothy McVeigh-like terrorism. Now, The Daily Beast has obtained another DHS memo, and this one identifies an even more far-ranging group of “extremists.”

    Partisans leapt to decry the first DHS memo as part of a Democratic conspiracy to marginalize right wingers. But it became clear that DHS's broad descriptions of extremists (“mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority”; “may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration”) were symptomatic of an ongoing agency problem that crossed ideological lines. Indeed, earlier memos surfaced that targeted left-wing extremists with the same uncomfortably vague descriptions. For example, one memo warned that anarchist extremists “embrace a number of radical philosophical components of anticapitalist, antiglobalization, communist, socialist, and other movements.”

    The Daily Beast obtained an internal memo from the DHS offering definitions for dozens of groups, movements, and terms. If nothing else, the document certainly crosses ideological lines: entries range from Mexican separatists to antiabortion extremists to racial Nordic mysticism.

    The new memo obtained by The Daily Beast locates an even wider-ranging group of extremists among us. You could safely say it crosses liberal and conservative lines: Entries range from Mexican separatists to antiabortion extremists to racial Nordic mysticism. (Islamic groups are specifically excluded from this document.)

    “Domestic Extremism Lexicon” is dated March 26—shortly before the flap over the right-wing extremism memo broke out. According to a spokesperson for DHS, the memo was recalled “within minutes” of being issued, though the spokesperson declined to offer any details on the reasons for its withdrawal.

    Some sample entries:

    (U) anti-immigration extremism (U//FOUO)

    A movement of groups or individuals who are vehemently opposed to illegal immigration, particularly along the U.S. Southwest border with Mexico, and who have been known to advocate or engage in criminal activity and plot acts of violence and terrorism to advance their extremist goals. They are highly critical of the U.S. government’s response to illegal immigration and oppose government programs that are designed to extend “rights” to illegal aliens, such as issuing driver’s licenses or national identification cards and providing in-state tuition, medical benefits, or public education.

    (U) Mexican separatism (U//FOUO)

    A movement of groups or individuals of Mexican descent who advocate the secession of southwestern U.S. states (all or part of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas) to join with Mexico through armed struggle. Members do not recognize the legitimacy of these U.S. states, including the U.S. government’s original acquisition of these territories.

    (U) black nationalism (U//FOUO)

    A term used by black separatists to promote the unification and separate identity of persons of black or African-American descent and who advocate the establishment of a separate nation within the United States.

    (U) black power (U//FOUO)
    A term used by black separatists to describe their pride in and the perceived superiority of the black race.

    (U) racial Nordic mysticism (U//FOUO)
    An ideology adopted by many white supremacist prison gangs who embrace a Norse mythological religion, such as Odinism or Asatru.

    (U) skinheads (U//FOUO)
    A subculture composed primarily of working-class, white youth who embrace shaved heads for males, substance abuse, and violence. Skinheads can be categorized as racist, antiracist, or “traditional,” which emphasizes group unity based on fashion, music, and lifestyle rather than political ideology. Dress often includes a shaved head or very short hair, jeans, thin suspenders, combat boots or Doc Martens, and a bomber jacket. (also: skins)

    The full memo can be viewed here.

    While the DHS offered no reason as to why the memo was recalled, the date of the decision coincides with a flap that broke out only days earlier, on March 23.Fox News found that a DHS fusion center, a satellite office used by the department to gather local intelligence on possible terrorist threats, was citing support for third-party candidates like Ron Paul or Bob Barr as a possible criteria for identifying “militia members.” It was the latest skirmish in an ongoing dispute over fusion centers, another of which had warned that Muslim advocacy groups deserved monitoring in order to block a possible conspiracy to implement Sharia law in America.

    “This is just one of a series of these reports that have been leaking recently,” Mike German, policy counsel at the ACLU's Washington DC legislative office, told The Daily Beast. “I guess I can understand the interest in making sure there is some common understanding of the terms they're using. The problem with it obviously is the terms and descriptions are so overly broad that many people who are simply advocating for issues they believe in, or don't even advocate but just hold opinions that are described here, would be greatly offended at being called an extremist and having their views being monitored by the government.”

    While DHS officials' motives in drafting and recalling the memo are unknown, German seems comfortable taking credit for the memo's recall.
    “I would say that they are certainly becoming sensitive to our concerns, which is a good thing,” German said.

    Benjamin Sarlin is a reporter for The Daily Beast. He previously covered New York City politics for The New York Sun and has worked

    Benjamin Sarlin is the Washington correspondent for The Daily Beast and edits the site's politics blog, Beltway Beast. He previously covered New York City politics for The New York Sun and has worked

  3. #3
    Senior Member Reciprocity's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    New York, The Evil Empire State
    What the hell is (U) racial Nordic mysticism (U//FOUO) sounds like something from World of Warcraft Guess when all else fails, call in the Vikings!

    i am now summoning Odin to vanquish all! Here comes Thor with his hammer, call DHS! lol
    Last edited by Reciprocity; 09-08-2013 at 01:32 PM.
    Newmexican likes this.
    “In questions of power…let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” –Thomas Jefferson

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