Told ya. I've been screaming about this for fifteen months. It's not just Verizon. It's all phone companies. It's ALL phone calls, not just those placed on Verizon, and I predict that by the time it all comes out, it will be proven that they are intercepting ALL email and other Internet traffic as well. See the two updates below The New York Times story. Why do you think the NSA has been building a 1,500,000 square foot data center in Bluffdale, Utah?
CALL YOUR U.S. REPRESENTATIVE AND U.S. SENATORS NOW AT 202-224-3121 AND ASK TO BE CONNECTED TO THEIR OFFICES. ONCE YOU GET A STAFF PERSON ON THE LINE TELL THEM THAT YOU DEMAND THAT ALL LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY FOR THESE DRAGNET SEARCHES AND SEIZURES BE REPEALED, INCLUDING THE RELEVANT PORTIONS OF THE PATRIOT ACT AND THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE ACT (FISA). TELL THEM THAT YOU DEMAND THAT THE NSA CENTER IN BLUFFDALE, UTAH BE RAZED TO THE GROUND. TELL THEM THAT YOU DEMAND THE IMPEACHMENT OF FISA CHIEF JUDGE WALTON.
The New York Times
June 5, 2013
By CHARLIE SAVAGE and EDWARD WYATT
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is secretly carrying out a domestic surveillance program under which it is collecting business communications records involving Americans under a hotly debated section of the Patriot Act, according to a highly classified court order disclosed on Wednesday night.
The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in April, directs a Verizon Communications subsidiary, Verizon Business Network Services, to turn over "on an ongoing daily basis" to the National Security Agency all call logs "between the United States and abroad" or "wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls."
The order does not apply to the content of the communications.
Verizon Business Network Services is one of the nation's largest telecommunications and Internet providers for corporations. It is not clear whether similar orders have gone to other parts of Verizon, like its residential or cellphone services, or to other telecommunications carriers. The order prohibits its recipient from discussing its existence, and representatives of both Verizon and AT&T declined to comment Wednesday evening.
The four-page order was disclosed Wednesday evening by the newspaper The Guardian. Obama administration officials at the F.B.I. and the White House also declined to comment on it Wednesday evening, but did not deny the report, and a person familiar with the order confirmed its authenticity. "We will respond as soon as we can," said Marci Green Miller, a National Security Agency spokeswoman, in an e-mail.
The order was sought by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under a section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that regulates domestic surveillance for national security purposes, including "tangible things" like a business's customer records. The provision was expanded by Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which Congress enacted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The order was marked "TOP SECRET//SI//NOFORN," referring to communications-related intelligence information that may not be released to noncitizens. That would make it among the most closely held secrets in the federal government, and its disclosure comes amid a furor over the Obama administration's aggressive tactics in its investigations of leaks.
The collection of call logs is set to expire in July unless the court extends it.
The collection of communications logs — or calling "metadata" — is believed to be a major component of the Bush administration's program of surveillance that took place without court orders. The newly disclosed order raised the question of whether the government continued that type of information collection by bringing it under the Patriot Act.
The disclosure late Wednesday seemed likely to inspire further controversy over the scope of government surveillance. Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies, a civil liberties advocacy group, said that "absent some explanation I haven't thought of, this looks like the largest assault on privacy since the N.S.A. wiretapped Americans in clear violation of the law" under the Bush administration. "On what possible basis has the government refused to tell us that it believes that the law authorizes this kind of request?" she said.
For several years, two Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, have been cryptically warning that the government was interpreting its surveillance powers under that section of the Patriot Act in a way that would be alarming to the public if it knew about it.
"We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act," they wrote last year in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
They added: "As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn't know what its government thinks the law says."
A spokesman for Senator Wyden did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment on the Verizon order.
The senators were angry because the Obama administration described Section 215 orders as being similar to a grand jury subpoena for obtaining business records, like a suspect's hotel or credit card records, in the course of an ordinary criminal investigation. The senators said the secret interpretation of the law was nothing like that.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act made it easier to get an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain business records so long as they were merely deemed "relevant" to a national-security investigation.
The Justice Department has denied being misleading about the Patriot Act. Department officials have acknowledged since 2009 that a secret, sensitive intelligence program is based on the law and that its statements about the matter have been accurate.
The New York Times filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2011 for a report describing the government's interpretation of its surveillance powers under the Patriot Act. But the Obama administration withheld the report, and a judge dismissed the case.
June 6, 2013, 3:55 PM
The Associated Press
NSA Whistleblowers: Spying Operation Has Been In Place For Years, Involves All Major U.S. Phone Companies
By PETER SVENSSON
NEW YORK -- Former employees of the National Security Agency say the publishing of a court order asking Verizon to hand over all its phone calling records for a three-month period opens a new window on an operation that has been in place for years and involves all major U.S. phone companies.
"NSA has been doing all this stuff all along, and it's been all these companies, not just one" William Binney told news program Democracy Now on Thursday. "They're just continuing the collection of this data on all U.S. citizens."
Binney, who worked at the NSA for almost 40 years, left the agency after the attacks of 9/11 because he objected to the expansion of its surveillance of U.S. citizens.
British newspaper The Guardian late Wednesday released an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, requesting Verizon to give the NSA the details on every phone call on its landline and wireless networks on a daily basis between April 25 and July 19.
Binney estimates that the NSA collects records on 3 billion calls per day.
"These are routine orders," said Thomas Drake, another NSA whistleblower. "What's new is we're seeing an actual order, and people are surprised by it."
"We've been saying this for years from the wilderness," Drake told Democracy Now. "But it's like, hey, everybody went to sleep while the government is collecting all these records."
Drake started working for the NSA in 2001 and blew the whistle on what he saw as a wasteful and invasive program at the agency. He was later prosecuted for keeping classified information. Most of the charges were dropped before trial, and he was sentenced to one year of probation and community service.
The NSA's original charter was to eavesdrop on communications between countries, not inside the U.S. That expansion of its mission appears to have happened after 9/11, but the agency has continuously denied that it spies on domestic communications.
In March, for instance, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines, emailed an Associated Press reporter about a story that described the NSA as a monitor of worldwide Internet data and phone calls.
"NSA collects, monitors, and analyzes a variety of (asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)FOREIGN(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) signals and communications for indications of threats to the United States and for information of value to the U.S. government," she wrote. " (asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)FOREIGN(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) is the operative word. NSA is not an indiscriminate vacuum, collecting anything and everything."
Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile USA, three of the largest phone companies, said they had no comment on the matter. A representative from Sprint did not respond to a message. Verizon's general counsel emailed employees Thursday saying that the company has an obligation to obey court orders, but did not confirm the existence of an order.
James Bamford, a journalist and author of several books on the NSA, said it's very surprising to see that the agency tracks domestic calls, including local calls. In 2006, USA Today reported that the NSA was secretly collecting a database of domestic call information. However, some phone companies denied any involvement in such a program.
Bamford's assumption was that the uproar over a separate, post-9/11 warrantless wiretapping program and the departure of the Bush administration meant that the NSA had been reined in.
"Here we are, under the Obama administration, doing it sort of like the Bush administration on steroids," he said in an interview with the Associated Press. "This order here is about as broad as it can possibly get, when it comes to focusing on personal communications. There's no warrant, there's no suspicion, there's no probable cause ... it sounds like something from East Germany."
Bamford believes the NSA collects the call records at a huge, newly built data center in Bluffdale, Utah.
June 7, 2013 at 10:21pm EDT
Public Documents Contradict Claim Email Spying Foiled Terror Plot
Defenders of the American government's online spying program known as "PRISM" claimed Friday that the suddenly controversial secret effort had saved New York City's subways from a 2009 terrorist plot led by a young Afghan-American, Najibullah Zazi.
But British and American legal documents from 2010 and 2011 contradict that claim, which appears to be the latest in a long line of attempts to defend secret programs by making, at best, misleading claims that they were central to stopping terror plots. While the court documents don't exclude the possibility that PRISM was somehow employed in the Zazi case, the documents show that old-fashioned police work, not data mining, was the tool that led counterterrorism agents to arrest Zazi. The public documents confirm doubts raised by the blogger Marcy Wheeler and the AP's Adam Goldman, and call into question a defense of PRISM first floated by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, who suggested that PRISM had stopped a key terror plot.
Reuters's Mark Hosenball advanced the claim Friday, based on anonymous "government sources":
"A secret U.S. intelligence program to collect emails that is at the heart of an uproar over government surveillance helped foil an Islamist militant plot to bomb the New York City subway system in 2009, U.S. government sources said on Friday.
The sources said Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, was talking about a plot hatched by Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-born U.S. resident, when he said on Thursday that such surveillance had helped thwart a significant terrorist plot in recent years.
President Barack Obama's administration is facing controversy after revelations of details of massive programs run by the National Security Agency for collecting information from telephone and Internet companies.
The surveillance program that halted the Zazi plot was one that collected email data on foreign intelligence suspects, a U.S. government source said."
The New York Times also emphasized the Zazi case Friday:
"To defenders of the N.S.A., the Zazi case underscores how the agency's Internet surveillance system, called Prism, which was set up over the past decade to collect data from online providers of e-mail and chat services, has yielded concrete results.
'We were able to glean critical information,' said a senior intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 'It was through an e-mail correspondence that we had access to only through Prism.'
But public — though not widely publicized — details of the Zazi plot cast into doubt the notion that a data mining program had much to do with the investigation. Zazi traveled to Pakistan in 2008 to train with al Qaeda. He was charged in 2009 with leading two other men in a plot to detonate suicide bombs in the New York subways.
The path to his capture, according to the public records, began in April 2009, when British authorities arrested several suspected terrorists. According to a 2010 ruling from Britain's Special Immigration Appeals Commission, one of the suspects' computers included email correspondence with an address in Pakistan.
The open case is founded upon a series of emails exchanged between a Pakistani registered email account email@example.com and an email account admittedly used by Naseer firstname.lastname@example.org between 30 November 2008 and 3 April 2009. The Security Service's assessment is that the user of the sana_pakhtana account was an Al Qaeda associate…
'For reasons which are wholly set out in the closed judgment, we are sure satisfied to the criminal standard that the user of the sana_pakhtana account was an Al Qaeda associate,' the British court wrote."
Later that year, according to a transcript of Zazi's July, 2011 trial, Zazi emailed his al Qaeda handler in Pakistan for help with the recipe for his bombs. He sent his inquiry to the same email address: email@example.com.
An FBI agent, Eric Jurgenson, testified, "I was notified, I should say. My office was in receipt of several e-mail messages, e-mail communications." Those emails — from Zazi to the same firstname.lastname@example.org — "led to the investigation," he testified.
The details of terror investigations are not always laid out this clearly in public; but they appear to belie the notion, advanced by anonymous government officials Friday, that sweeping access to millions of email accounts played an important roil in foiling the subway attack. Instead, this is the sort investigation made possible by ordinary warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; authorities appear simply to have been monitoring the Pakistani email account that had been linked to terrorists earlier that year.
This was, in fact, reported at the time. That November, British authorities were bragging to the Telegraph about their role in arresting Zazi:
The plan, which reportedly would have been the biggest attack on America since 9/11, was uncovered after Scotland Yard intercepted an email….The alleged plot was unmasked after an email address that was being monitored as part of [the 2009 U.K. case] was suddenly reactivated.
The existence of PRISM was revealed Thursday by the Washington Post and the Guardian. Authorities are now scrambling to justify the program.