Obamas Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers
Nearly half of the people on the U.S. governments widely shared
of terrorist suspects are not connected to any known terrorist
"Complete and accurate surveillance as a means of
control is probably a practical impossibility. What is much more likely is a
loss of privacy and constant inconvenience as the wrong people gain access to information, as one
wastes time convincing the inquisitors that one is in fact innocent, or as one
struggles to untangle the errors of the errant machine." Victor
If only we could step outside our normal
way of thinking for a moment.
None of the frameworks we normally call on
to understand the national security state capture the irrationality, genuine
inanity, and actual madness that lie at its heart.
security" as, at heart, a proselytizing warrior religion.
security state has its holy orders.
The national security state has its
sacred texts (classified). It has its dogma and its warrior priests.
The national security state has its sanctified promised
land, known as "the homeland."
The national security state has its
seminaries, which we call think tanks.
The national security state is a
monotheistic faith in that it broaches no alternatives to itself.
The national security state is Machiavellian in its
view of the world.
with so many religions, its god is an-eye-in-the-sky, an all-seeing Being who
knows your secrets.
adapted from Tom
National Security Administration
NSA Creates Citizen Data Warehouse System
"The new Citizen Data Warehouse System (CDWS) will create a
containing detailed information about each U.S.
citizen. Since the vast majority of
all U.S. credit
card transactions will be fed through this new system,
the depth of
information will be unparalleled. Intelligent routing of this citizen data
the inter-connected computer systems of various federal agencies
will provide citizens
a new level of service from the federal
history of domestic surveillance
National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge
collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans' social
connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain
times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to
newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.
The spy agency
began allowing the analysis of phone call
and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans' networks of associations
for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on
the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former
The policy shift was intended to help the agency
"discover and track" connections between intelligence targets overseas and
people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January
2011. The agency was authorized to conduct "large-scale graph
analysis on very large sets of
communications metadata without having to check foreignness" of every e-mail
address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of
concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer
analysis of such data had previously been
permitted only for foreigners.
The agency can augment the
communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources,
including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger
manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as
property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do
not indicate any restrictions on the use of such "enrichment" data, and several
former senior Obama
administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and
N.S.A. officials declined to say how many Americans have
been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing. The
documents do not describe what has resulted from the scrutiny, which links
phone numbers and e-mails in a "contact chain" tied directly or indirectly to a
person or organization overseas that is of foreign intelligence interest.
The new disclosures add to the growing body of knowledge in recent
months about the N.S.A.'s access to and use of private information concerning
Americans, prompting lawmakers in Washington to call for reining in the agency
and President Obama to order an
examination of its surveillance policies. Almost everything about the
agency's operations is hidden, and the decision to revise the limits concerning
Americans was made in secret, without review by the nation's intelligence court
or any public debate. As far back as 2006, a Justice Department memo warned of
the potential for the "misuse" of such information without adequate safeguards.
An agency spokeswoman, asked about the analyses of Americans' data,
said, "All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification,
"All of N.S.A.'s work has a foreign intelligence purpose," the
spokeswoman added. "Our activities are centered on counterterrorism,
counterproliferation and cybersecurity."
The legal underpinning of the
policy change, she said, was a 1979 Supreme Court ruling that Americans could
have no expectation of privacy about what numbers they had called. Based on
that ruling, the Justice Department and the Pentagon decided that it was
permissible to create contact chains using Americans' "metadata," which
includes the timing, location and other details of calls and e-mails, but not
their content. The agency is not required to seek warrants for the analyses
from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
declined to identify which phone and e-mail databases are used to create the
social network diagrams, and the documents provided by Mr. Snowden do not
specify them. The agency did say that the large database of Americans' domestic
phone call records, which was revealed by Mr. Snowden in June and caused
bipartisan alarm in Washington, was excluded. (N.S.A. officials have previously
acknowledged that the agency has done limited analysis in that database, collected under
provisions of the Patriot Act, exclusively for people who might be linked to
But the agency has multiple collection programs
and databases, the former officials said, adding that the social networking
analyses relied on both domestic and international metadata. They spoke only on
the condition of anonymity because the information was classified.
concerns in the United States since Mr. Snowden's revelations have largely
focused on the scope of the agency's collection of the private data of
Americans and the potential for abuse. But the new documents provide a rare
window into what the N.S.A. actually does with the information it gathers. A
series of agency PowerPoint presentations and memos describe how the N.S.A. has
been able to develop software and other tools - one document cited a new
generation of programs that "revolutionize" data collection and
analysis - to unlock as many secrets about
individuals as possible.
The spy agency, led by Gen. Keith B.
Alexander, an unabashed advocate for more weapons in the hunt for information
about the nation's adversaries, clearly views its collections of metadata as
one of its most powerful resources. N.S.A. analysts can exploit that
information to develop a portrait of an individual, one that is perhaps more
complete and predictive of behavior than could be obtained by listening to
phone conversations or reading e-mails, experts say.
Phone and e-mail
logs, for example, allow analysts to identify people's friends and associates,
detect where they were at a certain time, acquire clues to religious or
political affiliations, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to
a psychiatrist's office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner or
exchanges with a fellow plotter.
"Metadata can be very revealing," said
Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. "Knowing things
like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person's cellphone
is going to allow them to assemble a picture of what someone is up to. It's the
digital equivalent of tailing a suspect." The N.S.A. had been pushing for more
than a decade to obtain the rule change allowing the
analysis of Americans' phone and e-mail
data. Intelligence officials had been frustrated that they had to stop when a
contact chain hit a telephone number or e-mail address believed to be used by
an American, even though it might yield valuable intelligence primarily
concerning a foreigner who was overseas, according to documents previously
disclosed by Mr. Snowden. N.S.A. officials also wanted to employ the agency's
advanced computer analysis tools to sift
through its huge databases with much greater efficiency.
The agency had
asked for the new power as early as 1999, the documents show, but had been
initially rebuffed because it was not permitted under rules of the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court that were intended to protect the privacy of
A 2009 draft of an N.S.A. inspector general's report
suggests that contact chaining and analysis
may have been done on Americans' communications data under the Bush
administration's program of wiretapping without warrants, which began after the
Sept. 11 attacks to detect terrorist activities and skirted the existing laws
governing electronic surveillance.
In 2006, months after the
wiretapping program was disclosed by The New York Times, the N.S.A.'s acting
general counsel wrote a letter to a senior Justice Department official, which
was also leaked by Mr. Snowden, formally asking for permission to perform the
analysis on American phone and e-mail data.
A Justice Department memo to the attorney general noted that the "misuse" of
such information "could raise serious concerns," and said the N.S.A. promised
to impose safeguards, including regular audits, on the metadata program. In
2008, the Bush administration gave its approval.
A new policy that
year, detailed in "Defense Supplemental Procedures Governing Communications
Metadata Analysis," authorized by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and
Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, said that since the Supreme Court had
ruled that metadata was not constitutionally protected, N.S.A. analysts could
use such information "without regard to the nationality or location of the
communicants," according to an internal N.S.A. description of the policy.
After that decision, which was previously reported by The Guardian, the
N.S.A. performed the social network graphing in a pilot project for 1 ½
years "to great benefit," according to the 2011 memo. It was put in place in
November 2010 in "Sigint Management Directive 424" (sigint refers to signals
In the 2011 memo explaining the shift, N.S.A. analysts
were told that they could trace the contacts of Americans as long as they cited
a foreign intelligence justification. That could include anything from ties to
terrorism, weapons proliferation or international drug smuggling to spying on
conversations of foreign politicians, business figures or activists.
Analysts were warned to follow existing "minimization rules," which
prohibit the N.S.A. from sharing with other agencies names and other details of
Americans whose communications are collected, unless they are necessary to
understand foreign intelligence reports or there is evidence of a crime. The
agency is required to obtain a warrant from the intelligence court to target a
"U.S. person" - a citizen or legal resident - for actual eavesdropping.
The N.S.A. documents show that one of the main tools used for chaining
phone numbers and e-mail addresses has the code name Mainway. It is a
repository into which vast amounts of data flow daily from the agency's
fiber-optic cables, corporate partners and foreign computer networks that have
The documents show that significant amounts of information
from the United States go into Mainway. An internal N.S.A. bulletin, for
example, noted that in 2011 Mainway was taking in 700 million phone records per
day. In August 2011, it began receiving an additional 1.1 billion cellphone
records daily from an unnamed American service provider under Section 702 of
the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which allows for the collection of the data of
Americans if at least one end of the communication is believed to be foreign.
The overall volume of metadata collected by the N.S.A. is reflected in
the agency's secret 2013 budget request to Congress. The budget document,
disclosed by Mr. Snowden, shows that the agency is pouring money and manpower
into creating a metadata repository capable of taking in 20 billion "record
events" daily and making them available to N.S.A. analysts within 60 minutes.
The spending includes support for the "Enterprise Knowledge System,"
which has a $394 million multiyear budget and is designed to "rapidly discover
and correlate complex relationships and patterns across diverse data sources on
a massive scale," according to a 2008 document. The data is automatically
computed to speed queries and discover new targets for surveillance.
top-secret document titled "Better Person Centric Analysis" describes how the
agency looks for 94 "entity types," including phone numbers, e-mail addresses
and IP addresses. In addition, the N.S.A. correlates 164 "relationship types"
to build social networks and what the agency calls "community of interest"
profiles, using queries like "travelsWith, hasFather, sentForumMessage,
A 2009 PowerPoint presentation provided more examples of data
sources available in the "enrichment" process, including location-based
services like GPS and TomTom, online social networks, billing records and bank
codes for transactions in the United States and overseas.
At a Senate
Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday, General Alexander was asked if the
agency ever collected or planned to collect bulk records about Americans'
locations based on cellphone tower data. He replied that it was not doing so as
part of the call log program authorized by the Patriot Act, but said a fuller
response would be classified.
If the N.S.A. does not immediately use
the phone and e-mail logging data of an American, it can be stored for later
use, at least under certain circumstances, according to several documents.
One 2011 memo, for example, said that after a court ruling narrowed the
scope of the agency's collection, the data in question was "being buffered for
possible ingest" later. A year earlier, an internal briefing paper from the
N.S.A. Office of Legal Counsel showed that the agency was allowed to collect
and retain raw traffic, which includes both metadata and content, about "U.S.
persons" for up to five years online and for an additional 10 years offline for
James Risen reported from Washington and New
York. Laura Poitras, a freelance journalist, reported from Berlin.
This web site is not a commercial web site and
is presented for educational purposes only.
This website defines a
new perspective with which to engage reality to which its author adheres. The
author feels that the falsification of reality outside personal experience has
created a populace unable to discern propaganda from reality and that this has
been done purposefully by an international corporate cartel through their
agents who wish to foist a corrupt version of reality on the human race.
Religious intolerance occurs when any group refuses to tolerate religious
practices, religious beliefs or persons due to their religious ideology. This
web site marks the founding of a system of philosophy named The Truth of the
Way of Life - a rational gnostic mystery religion based on reason which
requires no leap of faith, accepts no tithes, has no supreme leader, no church
buildings and in which each and every individual is encouraged to develop a
personal relation with the Creator and Sustainer through the pursuit of the
knowledge of reality in the hope of curing the spiritual corruption that has
enveloped the human spirit. The tenets of The Truth of the Way of Life are
spelled out in detail on this web site by the author. Violent acts against
individuals due to their religious beliefs in America is considered a
This web site in no way condones violence. To the
contrary the intent here is to reduce the violence that is already occurring
due to the international corporate cartels desire to control the human race.
The international corporate cartel already controls the world central banking
system, mass media worldwide, the global industrial military entertainment
complex and is responsible for the collapse of morals, the elevation of
self-centered behavior and the destruction of global ecosystems. Civilization
is based on cooperation. Cooperation does not occur at the point of a
American social mores and values have declined precipitously over
the last century as the corrupt international cartel has garnered more and more
power. This power rests in the ability to deceive the populace in general
through mass media by pressing emotional buttons which have been preprogrammed
into the population through prior mass media psychological operations. The
results have been the destruction of the family and the destruction of social
structures that do not adhere to the corrupt international elites vision of
a perfect world. Through distraction and
coercion the direction of thought of the bulk of the population has been
directed toward solutions proposed by the corrupt international elite that
further consolidates their power and which further their purposes.
views and opinions presented on this web site are the views and opinions of
individual human men and women that, through their writings, showed the
capacity for intelligent, reasonable, rational, insightful and unpopular
thought. All factual information presented on this web site is believed to be
true and accurate and is presented as originally presented in print media which
may or may not have originally presented the facts truthfully. Opinion and
thoughts have been adapted, edited, corrected, redacted, combined, added to,
re-edited and re-corrected as nearly all opinion and thought has been
throughout time but has been done so in the spirit of the original writer with
the intent of making his or her thoughts and opinions clearer and relevant to
the reader in the present time.
Fair Use Notice
This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has
not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making
such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of criminal
justice, human rights, political, economic, democratic, scientific, and social
justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such
copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the United States
Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on
this site is distributed without
profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included
information for research and educational purposes. For more information see:
www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted
material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you
must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
© Lawrence Turner
All Rights Reserved