Director of National Intelligence criticizes ‘reckless disclosures’ of PRISM as another secret tool exposed
By End the Lie
While Director of National Intelligence James Clapper slammed the press for “reckless disclosures of intelligence community measures used to keep Americans safe” – referring to PRISM – and tried to explain the project, a new secret tool called “Boundless Informant” has been uncovered.
This comes after a report revealed that tech companies had worked with the government on PRISM despite their cleverly worded apparent denials. On Friday, Obama defended the program while a lawsuit was filed by a former Justice Department prosecutor against Verizon and the Obama administration over the seizure of all U.S. phone records.
The documents, posted on Saturday, reveal that the NSA has collected nearly 3 billion pieces of intelligence from American computer networks over the 30-day period ending in March 2013.
Boundless Informant focuses on counting and categorizing records of communications rather than the content of the communications itself.
One document explained that Boundless Informant is designed to answer NSA officials’ questions like, “How many records (and what type) are collected against a particular country?” among many others listed in a Frequently Asked Questions packet.
Boundless Informant uses “Big Data technology to query SIGINT [Signals Intelligence] collection in the cloud to produce near real-time business intelligence describing the agency’s available SIGINT infrastructure and coverage,” according to a slide from a presentation obtained by the Guardian.
The Guardian also posted an image from a “global heat map” which shows that in March 2013 alone the NSA collected a whopping 97 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks around the globe.
Interestingly, the most intelligence was gathered in Iran with over 14 billion reports in that period followed by 13.5 billion from Pakistan.
Jordan, one of the U.S.’s closest allies in the Arab world, had 12.7 billion, Egypt had 7.6 billion and India had 6.3 billion.
Interesting, this information appears to show that James Clapper lied during testimony before the Senate.
“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” asked Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
“No sir,” Clapper replied.
“NSA has consistently reported – including to Congress – that we do not have the ability to determine with certainty the identity or location of all communicants within a given communication. That remains the case,” said Judith Emmel, an NSA spokeswoman, to the Guardian.
Yet “documents seen by the Guardian further demonstrate that the NSA does in fact break down its surveillance intercepts which could allow the agency to determine how many of them are from the US. The level of detail includes individual IP addresses,” Glenn Greenwald and Ewan MacAskill report for the Guardian.
Today Clapper released a statement condemning the publishing of the documents about PRISM along with a brief document outlining some details of PRISM which he maintains is “not an undisclosed collection or data mining program.”
“In a rush to publish, media outlets have not given the full context—including the extent to which these programs are overseen by all three branches of government—to these effective tools,” Clapper stated.
He said that “significant misimpressions” have resulted from coverage of PRISM in the media, yet he said can’t correct the inaccuracies without revealing classified information.
“Under Section 702 of FISA, the United States Government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers,” Clapper stated in the declassified document attempting to explain away some of PRISM.
“All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence,” the document states.
Of course, the Director of National Intelligence is Clapper himself.
Yet the Justice Department continues to continue what Mother Jones calls their “effort to keep secret an 86-page court opinion that determined that the government had violated the spirit of federal surveillance laws and engaged in unconstitutional spying.”
In July of last year, Wyden was able to get Clapper to declassify two statements, both of which were deeply troubling.
The statements were:
- On at least one occasion the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held that some collection carried out pursuant to the Section 702 minimization procedures used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.
- I believe that the government’s implementation of Section 702 of FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] has sometimes circumvented the spirit of the law, and on at least one occasion the FISA Court has reached this same conclusion.
The government continues to maintain that they must keep the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s 2011 opinion that found the NSA’s surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act to be unconstitutional.
“Significantly, the surveillance at issue was carried out under the same controversial legal authority that underlies the NSA’s recently-revealed PRISM program,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted on Friday.
UPDATE: “A U.S. intelligence agency requested a criminal probe on Saturday into the leak of highly classified information about secret surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency, a spokesman for the intelligence chief’s office said,” Reuters reports.
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