In Archive, NSA on December 2, 2013 at 11:30 PM
A sheet of talking points for employees of the National Security Agency and Central Security Services, was sent out ahead of Thanksgiving to help guide conversations with family and friends during the holiday season.
Firedoglake obtained a copy of a two-page document that was sent out on November 22. It was clearly put together for rebutting statements about the NSA from news stories on documents disclosed by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, and it encouraged employees to “share the following points with family members and close friends.”
The “talking points” sheet suggests that employees make five key points: (1) NSA’s mission is of great value to the Nation”; (2) NSA performs its mission the right way—lawful, compliant and in a way that protects civil liberties and privacy; (3) NSA performs its mission exceptionally well. We strive to be the best that we can be, because that’s what America requires as part of its defense in a dangerous world; (4) The people who work for NSA are loyal Americans with expert skills who make sacrifices to help protect the freedoms we all cherish; (5) NSA is committed to increased transparency, public dialog and faithful implementation of any changes required by our overseers. (No emphasis added. Underlines appear in the document.)
Each key point includes sub-points that presumably an employee could additionally cite if a family member disputed their main point.
This is not the first time the agency has sent home material for employees to share with their family members. Earlier this year, on September 13, employees took home a “Dear Family” letter to help reassure family that the NSA will survive. “We have weathered storms before and we will weather this one together, as well,” the letter stated.
The talking points—as well as another set of agency talking points for officials journalist Jason Leopold obtained in October—represent the best efforts of intelligence community leaders to convince employees to keep deluding themselves with thoughts that what the agency does is all justified, legal and does not unnecessarily jeopardize any US person’s civil liberties.
In Archive, ODNI on December 2, 2013 at 10:24 PM
The latest report from the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community provides an updated (and largely redacted) snapshot of the IG’s investigative agenda.
During the nine-month period from July 2012 to March 2013, the IC IG internal hotline received 70 contacts or complaints from intelligence agency personnel, as well as 77 contacts from the general public.
Investigators conducted 75 investigations revealing some occasionally creative forms of misconduct. In one case, an ODNI employee “was operating a personal website on Government time using Government systems through which he solicited and received donations.” Another ODNI employee “attempted to improperly obtain a security clearance for a private citizen through the use of a no-cost contract.”
Three cases of suspected unauthorized disclosures were closed when they were found to be unsubstantiated. Two investigations of unauthorized disclosures remained open as of March 31.
Last month, IC Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III told Congress that his office could not perform an investigation of NSA surveillance programs because it lacked the resources to do so.
“While my office has the jurisdiction to conduct an IC-wide review of all IC elements using these authorities,” Mr. McCullough wrote in a November 5 letter to Senator Leahy and others, “such a review will implicate ongoing oversight efforts. Therefore, I have been conferring with several IC Inspectors General Forum members in order to consider how such a review might be accomplished given the potential impact to IG resources and ongoing projects.”
In Amazon, Archive, Drones, Technology on December 2, 2013 at 7:31 PM
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is known for making big bets in the world of innovation, and on Sunday night on 60 Minutes he revealed what might be one of his biggest: product delivery by flying robot drones.
The service is called Amazon Prime Air and it’s slated for rollout sometime in 2015, depending on FAA approval.
A video of how the service will work has already been posted to YouTube, showing the process of the package being taken from the warehouse floor and on to the front steps of the customer’s home. The idea is to have the drone deliver orders roughly 30 minutes after the customer hits the “buy” button on Amazon.com.
Bezos was so excited about the news that he kept the details under wraps until just before the interview with the network began. According to the producers of 60 Minutes, before the unveiling, Bezos said, “If you can guess what it is, then… I will give you half my fortune and send you to Vegas with it.”
Reacting to the unveiling of the Amazon-branded drone, Bezos interviewer Charlie Rose said, “I had no idea what its purpose was at first glance… They actually look like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel.”
In Archive, NSA Files, Snowden on December 2, 2013 at 6:30 PM
The NSA files revealed by Edward Snowden have thrown up a fascinating collection of statistics. How much data is collected and from what countries? How much money is spent on intelligence? Find out the answer to these questions and more in our numerical guide to the surveillance industry.
In Archive, GCHQ, NSA, Surveillance, UN on December 2, 2013 at 5:52 PM
Nick Hopkins/Matthew Taylor/Guardian:
The UN’s senior counter-terrorism official is to launch an investigation into the surveillance powers of American and British intelligence agencies following Edward Snowden’s revelations that they are using secret programmes to store and analyse billions of emails, phone calls and text messages.
The UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC said his inquiry would also seek to establish whether the British parliament had been misled about the capabilities of Britain’s eavesdropping headquarters, GCHQ, and whether the current system of oversight and scrutiny was strong enough to meet United Nations standards.
The inquiry will make a series of recommendations to the UN general assembly next year.
In an article for the Guardian, Emmerson said Snowden had disclosed “issues at the very apex of public interest concerns”. He said the media had a duty and right to publish stories about the activities of GCHQ, and its American counterpart the National Security Agency.
He said his inquiry will be requiring further testimony from GCHQ’s director, Sir Iain Lobban, the director of MI5, Andrew Parker, and MI6 chief Sir John Sawers.
“I will be seeking a far more detailed explanation than security chiefs gave the (ISC) committee.
UPDATE 10/15/2014 UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism & Human Rights Issues Scathing Report on Mass Surveillance