Big Brother is in the house…

Huelskamp: Government Surveillance Like ‘Big Brother’

Friday, 07 Jun 2013 — Newsmax

By Jim Meyers and John Bachman

Rep. Tim Huelskamp tells Newsmax that revelations about the government’s surveillance operations are “astonishing” — and calls the federal government “Big Brother.”

The Kansas Republican also says it is “pretty evident” that Attorney General Eric Holder and people at the IRS have lied to Congress.

Rep. Huelskamp was first elected in 2010 and ran unopposed in 2012. He is a member of the Tea Party Caucus.

Members of Congress as well as ordinary citizens have been stunned by disclosures about a secret government intelligence operation targeting millions of Americans’ phone, email, and Internet records as a tool to fight terrorism.

“There are things going on here that are particularly worrisome,” Huelskamp says in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Friday.

“This is not targeted to suspected terrorists, this is anybody who uses the phone in this country or uses YouTube or Apple or Skype.

“You know as we speak here there’s a record being made somewhere in Washington that we actually called one another on this phone line. That has never been indicated to me, and most of my colleagues are probably completely unaware that the administration was engaged in this type of monitoring of American citizens.

“It is shocking that we’re relying on media sources for this to be released – a British newspaper and now finally some newspapers here in this country.

“There are some folks that are claiming they were fully aware in Congress that this was going on. I was not one of them. I certainly would not have voted for the Patriot Act knowing they were pulling down hundreds of millions of phone records and categorizing and keeping them somewhere in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t trust them with the information. They’ve got a long history of leaking data as indicated by these news reports. So we will have a closed door session with the NSA and other folks on Monday and hopefully we’ll start getting some answers on this, but this is astonishing and this has never been revealed to me or most members of Congress.”

Asked about the “leaking,” Huelskamp says: “Data in the federal government has been notoriously open to hacking. I serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee. We just discovered earlier this week that up to 20 million private medical and financial data records of veterans in this country have been hacked, potentially by a Chinese-related company.

“These are the same folks that are supposedly protecting all of our telephone records that they have taken without permission and without warrant, we believe. So I’m worried about them having that information — number one, what are they going to do with it, but also who else might access that information when you have a government that can’t even protect records of veterans?”

The Department of Homeland Security “was supposedly watching the data at the VA and we know that they don’t know what they’ve lost. We know Chinese hackers went inside the system. I just say that Americans are very upset that the federal government, Washington, Big Brother, can come in here and take a look at all their phone records.

More: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/huelskamp-government-surveillance-big/2013/06/07/id/508754?s=al&promo_code=13C49-1#ixzz2VgcMYcqr

Wyden questions Clapper

At the end of that exchange is where Clapper gives his now famous answer

Wyden asked: Does the NSA collect ANY type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.

Clapper responds: “ No Sir. …Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect but not wittingly.”

So as if by some freak accident, they could ”inadvertently collect” data. A court order is pretty big inadvertent. I suppose “perhaps” they just stumbled across a court authorized order and thereby are collecting all the data… all by some accident of course.

You have to laugh that this is the director of intelligence. He earlier tried to hand off questions directed at him to Mueller in FBI.

This Verizon dragnet is the biggest inadvertent data collection that I think I ever heard of. A historic first.

This isn’t one of those “depends on the definition of IS” questions. I am struck then on how much unwitting data collection they are doing. Almost like, maybe, they were intentionally trying to do it? I know that sounds ridiculous, and I apologize.

The point in this is not about the data-collection issue, it is about lying. That would be intentionally not telling the truth, for anyone unsure. There used to be another word….

If Clapper lied about data collection, what are the chances he can lie about them keeping “dossiers” on millions of people? NSA called that a false claim.

NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily (Guardian)

[Guardian]Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama

Under the terms of the order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data and the time and duration of all calls.

Glenn Greenwald

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.
Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.
The disclosure is likely to reignite longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government’s domestic spying powers.
Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.
The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.
The Guardian approached the National Security Agency, the White House and the Department of Justice for comment in advance of publication on Wednesday. All declined. The agencies were also offered the opportunity to raise specific security concerns regarding the publication of the court order.
The court order expressly bars Verizon from disclosing to the public either the existence of the FBI’s request for its customers’ records, or the court order itself.
“We decline comment,” said Ed McFadden, a Washington-based Verizon spokesman.
The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson, compels Verizon to produce to the NSA electronic copies of “all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications between the United States and abroad” or “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls”.
The order directs Verizon to “continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order”. It specifies that the records to be produced include “session identifying information”, such as “originating and terminating number”, the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and “comprehensive communication routing information”.
The information is classed as “metadata”, or transactional information, rather than communications, and so does not require individual warrants to access. The document also specifies that such “metadata” is not limited to the aforementioned items. A 2005 court ruling judged that cell site location data – the nearest cell tower a phone was connected to – was also transactional data, and so could potentially fall under the scope of the order.
While the order itself does not include either the contents of messages or the personal information of the subscriber of any particular cell number, its collection would allow the NSA to build easily a comprehensive picture of who any individual contacted, how and when, and possibly from where, retrospectively.
It is not known whether Verizon is the only cell-phone provider to be targeted with such an order, although previous reporting has suggested the NSA has collected cell records from all major mobile networks. It is also unclear from the leaked document whether the three-month order was a one-off, or the latest in a series of similar orders.
The court order appears to explain the numerous cryptic public warnings by two US senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, about the scope of the Obama administration’s surveillance activities.
For roughly two years, the two Democrats have been stridently advising the public that the US government is relying on “secret legal interpretations” to claim surveillance powers so broad that the American public would be “stunned” to learn of the kind of domestic spying being conducted.
Because those activities are classified, the senators, both members of the Senate intelligence committee, have been prevented from specifying which domestic surveillance programs they find so alarming. But the information they have been able to disclose in their public warnings perfectly tracks both the specific law cited by the April 25 court order as well as the vast scope of record-gathering it authorized.
Julian Sanchez, a surveillance expert with the Cato Institute, explained: “We’ve certainly seen the government increasingly strain the bounds of ‘relevance’ to collect large numbers of records at once — everyone at one or two degrees of separation from a target but vacuuming all metadata up indiscriminately would be an extraordinary repudiation of any pretence of constraint or particularized suspicion.” The April order requested by the FBI and NSA does precisely that.
The law on which the order explicitly relies is the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act, 50 USC section 1861. That is the provision which Wyden and Udall have repeatedly cited when warning the public of what they believe is the Obama administration’s extreme interpretation of the law to engage in excessive domestic surveillance.
In a letter to attorney general Eric Holder last year, they argued that “there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows.”
“We believe,” they wrote, “that most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted” the “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.
Privacy advocates have long warned that allowing the government to collect and store unlimited “metadata” is a highly invasive form of surveillance of citizens’ communications activities. Those records enable the government to know the identity of every person with whom an individual communicates electronically, how long they spoke, and their location at the time of the communication.
Such metadata is what the US government has long attempted to obtain in order to discover an individual’s network of associations and communication patterns. The request for the bulk collection of all Verizon domestic telephone records indicates that the agency is continuing some version of the data-mining program begun by the Bush administration in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack.
The NSA, as part of a program secretly authorized by President Bush on 4 October 2001, implemented a bulk collection program of domestic telephone, internet and email records. A furore erupted in 2006 when USA Today reported that the NSA had “been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth” and was “using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity.” Until now, there has been no indication that the Obama administration implemented a similar program.
These recent events reflect how profoundly the NSA’s mission has transformed from an agency exclusively devoted to foreign intelligence gathering, into one that focuses increasingly on domestic communications. A 30-year employee of the NSA, William Binney, resigned from the agency shortly after 9/11 in protest at the agency’s focus on domestic activities.
In the mid-1970s, Congress, for the first time, investigated the surveillance activities of the US government. Back then, the mandate of the NSA was that it would never direct its surveillance apparatus domestically.
At the conclusion of that investigation, Frank Church, the Democratic senator from Idaho who chaired the investigative committee, warned: “The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter.”
Additional reporting by Ewen MacAskill and Spencer Ackerman
http://m.guardiannews.com/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order
 

A big H/T to Dave for this article

The Guardian UK looks into Obama’s Verizon dragnet

NSA surveillance data-mining Verizon records

The Guardian UK reported:

Feinstein said she believed the order had been in place for some time. She said: “As far as I know this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years. This renewal is carried out by the [foreign intelligence surveillance] court under the business records section of the Patriot Act. Therefore it is lawful. It has been briefed to Congress.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement that the secret court order was unprecedented. “As far as we know this order from the Fisa court is the broadest surveillance order to ever have been issued: it requires no level of suspicion and applies to all Verizon [business services] subscribers anywhere in the US.

“The Patriot Act’s incredibly broad surveillance provision purportedly authorizes an order of this sort, though its constitutionality is in question and several senators have complained about it.”

Russell Tice, a retired National Security Agency intelligence analyst and whistleblower, said: “What is going on is much larger and more systemic than anything anyone has ever suspected or imagined.”

Although an anonymous senior Obama administration official said that “on its face” the court order revealed by the Guardian did not authorise the government to listen in on people’s phone calls, Tice now believes the NSA has constructed such a capability.

“I figured it would probably be about 2015” before the NSA had “the computer capacity … to collect all digital communications word for word,” Tice said. “But I think I’m wrong. I think they have it right now.”

[*I did not include the link because of A/V problems with it.]

H/T to Dave