Wednesday, December 7, 2016
However, the panel of three Circuit judges disagreed — deciding that the government has the right under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to make use of American digital communications it obtains incidentally through its overseas surveillance programs, so long as the original target is a foreigner. Mohamud had “diminished” expectations of privacy when he hit send, knowing his correspondence would leave the country, the court said.
Under Section 702, the government doesn’t need to obtain a warrant, demonstrate probable cause, or be specific about exactly where and when the surveillance will take place. If the government can use communications from Americans collected under 702, even in narrow circumstances, it sets a precedent that could have lasting implications for their constitutional right to privacy in the digital age.
By the first half of 2004, the National Security Agency was drowning in information. It had amassed 85 billion phone and online records and cut the ribbon on a new hacking center in Hawaii — but it was woefully short on linguists who could make sense of captured communications and lacked enough network analysts to effectively monitor all the systems it had hacked.
The signals intelligence collected by the agency was being used for critically important decisions even as NSA struggled to understand it. Some bombs in Iraq were being targeted based entirely on signals intelligence, a senior NSA official told staff at the time — with decisions being made in a matter of “minutes” with “less and less review.”
Information overload is just one of several themes running through 262 articles from the NSA’s internal news site, SIDtoday, which The Intercept is now releasing after careful review. The documents also detailed an incident in which the Reagan administration appears to have leaked classified intelligence to the press for political purposes, described in an accompanying article by reporter Jon Schwarz.
SIDtoday articles published today also describe how the NSA trained FBI agents, enabled U.S. intervention in Latin America, and, with the help of a gifted analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, learned the value of simply reading information that was already public. One document even suggests that NSA personnel routinely got dangerously chatty at restaurants near headquarters. These stories and more are described in the highlights reel below. The NSA declined to comment.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Monday, December 5, 2016
The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.
Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.
The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.