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ę Overnight Open Thread (6-6-2013) | Main | Friday Morning News Dump Ľ
June 07, 2013

Top Headline Comments 6-7-13

Happy Friday.

DNI Clapper rebuffed the Washington Post and Guardian stories about PRISM, saying, "They contain numerous inaccuracies," and asserting that the disclosure of the program "is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans." Notably, however, he declined to specifically identify the inaccuracies, suggesting only that the program does not intentionally target U.S. citizens. I'm reminded of the NSA "overcollection" scandal of 2009.

Turning now to the other NSA scandal, Wall Street Journal confirms that NSA has court orders to collect cellphone metadata from all three major U.S. carriers and the Democrats want you to know that this has been going on for a long, long time, so why should anyone care, amirite?

One thing that's been bugging me about this is why NSA needs this at all if its claims of being able to subpoena records are true. Brian Fung over at National Journal is thinking along similar lines:

As Marc Ambinder points out, if the NSA is already collecting metadata, why should the government need to subpoena said information to go after whistleblowers? In principle, barriers exist between the NSA (Pentagon) and the FBI (Justice Department) to prevent this sort of thing. In practice, however, the court order shows NSA was gathering the metadata on behalf of the FBI, so those barriers didnít appear to operate as intended this time. One answer may be that even if DOJ had been able to look at the NSAís information, it wouldnít have been admissible as evidence in courtóhence the need for subpoena. Iíve reached out to legal experts for a clearer answer, and Iíll update if and when we know more.

I don't know. On the on hand, the metadata collection was operating via court order, so you'd think the metadata would be admissible as evidence. On the other hand, it's possible NSA rules and the terms of the program require that the metadata not be used to target Americans (like James Rosen and the leaker, Stephen Jin-Woo Kim). The judicial orders were obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, after all.

Happy weekend.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 06:50 AM

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