NSA data harvesting continues and is actually expanding, despite the Obama administration’s claims
By End the Lie
This comes as new NSA leaks revealed that the Obama administration continued harvesting massive amounts of information on the emails and internet use of Americans.
New top secret NSA documents show that when Shawn Turner, the Obama administration’s director of communications for National Intelligence, claimed that the program ended in 2011, Turner wasn’t being all that forthcoming.
Turner told the Guardian that “the internet metadata collection program authorized by the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)] court was discontinued in 2011 for operational and resource reasons and has not been restarted,” but the documents present a completely different picture.
What was discontinued in 2011, according to Turner? Was it the entire NSA metadata collection program? No, he specifically says it was “the internet metadata collection program authorized by the FISA court.” That doesn’t exclude the possibility of a separate program remaining operational.
Indeed, we cannot avoid the fact that the Special Source Operations (SSO) directorate within the NSA collects a vast amount of internet traffic and data to this day. Turner is either lying or issuing a cleverly worded denial which isn’t technically a lie.
The SSO announced on December 26, 2012 that they had a new capability to allow collection of a great deal more internet traffic and data than was previously possible.
While the documents don’t specifically mention a program collecting purely domestic data in bulk, it is quite clear that data from U.S. systems are collected and analyzed.
With the new system, “the NSA is able to direct more than half of the internet traffic it intercepts from its collection points into its own repositories. One end of the communications collected are inside the United States,” according to the Guardian.
The NSA dubbed it the “One-End Foreign (1EF) solution,” part of a program codenamed EvilOlive. The program aimed at “broadening the scope” of what the agency is able to collect.
It relied on the “FAA Authority” to justify the program, referring back to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which was reauthorized late last year.
Under EvilOlive and the 1EF solution, the NSA is able to collect a great deal more traffic, as the SSO stated in December.
“The 1EF solution is allowing more than 75% of the traffic to pass through the filter,” the SSO document states. “This milestone not only opened the aperture of the access but allowed the possibility for more traffic to be identified, selected and forwarded to NSA repositories.”
“After the EvilOlive deployment, traffic has literally doubled,” the document stated.
The NSA document refers to another secret program, codenamed ShellTrumpet.
Under ShellTrumpet, an SSO official wrote that the agency “processed its one trillionth metadata record” on December 31, 2012.
“It is not clear how much of this collection concerns foreigners’ online records and how much concerns those of Americans,” Glenn Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman wrote for the Guardian. “Also unclear is the claimed legal authority for this collection.”
The details of ShellTrumpet are murky, but the five-year-old program is described as beginning “as a near-real-time metadata analyzer … for a classic collection system.”
“In its five year history, numerous other systems from across the Agency have come to use ShellTrumpet’s processing capabilities for performance monitoring” along with other tasks like “direct email tip alerting,” according to the SSO official.
The processing power of the program is quite shocking. In 2012 alone, almost half of the trillion pieces of internet metadata were processed.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this new information is the fact that there are ongoing plans to actually expand the collection of metadata, according to an SSO entry dated February 6, 2013.
A new joint surveillance collection program “to query metadata” was “turned on in the Fall 2012” which involves an unnamed partner agency.
Additional programs called MoonLightPath and Spinneret “are planned to be added by September 2013,” even further expanding the agency’s surveillance.
Interestingly, one SSO document states that the British GCHQ – which operates an incredibly massive surveillance program of its own – has “modified” an existing program so the NSA could “benefit” from the data harvested by GCHQ.
“Transient Thurible, a new Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) managed XKeyScore (XKS) Deep Dive was declared operational,” a September 21, 2012 SSO entry states. “Transient Thurible metadata [has been] flowing into NSA repositories since 13 August 2012.”
It is unclear just how much American is data collected and processed by the NSA. Given the amount of secrecy, the twisting of facts, the significant inaccuracies and the outright lies that have been publicly offered around the surveillance program, one can only guess and such a guess likely wouldn’t be all that comforting.
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