I’m trying to sort through the irreconcilable claims about the Section 215 and PRISM/702 programs made in today’s Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on cyber.
But for now, I want to post Dianne Feinstein’s statement about what Section 215 does because, well, it seems Iran is now a terrorist. (This is around 1:55)
The Section 215 Business Records provision was created in 2001 in the PATRIOT for tangible things: hotel records, credit card statements, etcetera. Things that are not phone or email communications. The FBI uses that authority as part of its terrorism investigations. The NSA only uses Section 215 for phone call records — not for Google searches or other things. Under Section 215, NSA collects phone records pursuant to a court record. It can only look at that data after a showing that there is a reasonable, articulable that a specific individual is involved in terrorism, actually related to al Qaeda or Iran. At that point, the database can be searched. But that search only provides metadata, of those phone numbers. Of things that are in the phone bill. That person, um [flips paper] So the vast majority of records in the database are never accessed, and are deleted after a period of five years. To look at, or use content, a court warrant must be obtained.
Is that a fair description, or can you correct it in any way?
Keith Alexander: That is correct, Senator.
Frankly, Dianne Feinstein has appeared to keep her facts straight about Section 215, at least, better than Mike Rogers and James Clapper over the last week. But this statement conflicts in some important ways with what others are saying.
So maybe this is not accurate.
But according to DiFi — and backed by General Keith Alexander, head of NSA — Iran, along with al Qaeda, is now a terrorist organization.