Edward Snowden: Congress Has Immunity from Spying, But You Don’t

I’ll admit from the start that the Snowden chat at the Guardian was a brilliant journalistic and technical feat. At the same time, it’s clear that Snowden is still closely following the news, and presumably shaping his answers for maximal political effect.

So I take this comment, the last words he spoke on the chat, with a grain of salt.

This is the precise reason that NSA provides Congress with a special immunity to its surveillance.

Certainly, it would seem technically feasible to block all Verizon numbers associated with official Congressional communications devices. It would be far harder to block the abundant communications devices tied to campaign activity.

From this, shall we assume the White House and Courts are also immune?

Contrast that with Snowden’s claims about we peons’ communications.

NSA likes to use “domestic” as a weasel word here for a number of reasons. The reality is that due to the FISA Amendments Act and its section 702 authorities, Americans’ communications are collected and viewed on a daily basis on the certification of an analyst rather than a warrant. They excuse this as “incidental” collection, but at the end of the day, someone at NSA still has the content of your communications. Even in the event of “warranted” intercept, it’s important to understand the intelligence community doesn’t always deal with what you would consider a “real” warrant like a Police department would have to, the “warrant” is more of a templated form they fill out and send to a reliable judge with a rubber stamp.

[snip]

US Persons do enjoy limited policy protections (and again, it’s important to understand that policy protection is no protection – policy is a one-way ratchet that only loosens) and one very weak technical protection – a near-the-front-end filter at our ingestion points. The filter is constantly out of date, is set at what is euphemistically referred to as the “widest allowable aperture,” and can be stripped out at any time. Even with the filter, US comms get ingested, and even more so as soon as they leave the border. Your protected communications shouldn’t stop being protected communications just because of the IP they’re tagged with.

I do believe I pointed out James Clapper using “domestic” as just on such weasel word (I prefer to call it Orwellian turd-splat) this morning!

Clearly, Snowden is trying to make it clear that our Congressional overseers aren’t protecting our interests as well as the NSA has protected theirs (for good reasons under the Constitution, I would add).

So this claim may just be an effort to make us more pissed.

Remember, however, the day after the first leak on this, Eric Holder testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee. Barbara Milulski, who (as a tremendously powerful Senator representing NSA) had not previously publicly ever met NSA surveillance she didn’t like, was up in arms about the possibility the government was surveilling her communications.

Those concerns had been placated by the time Keith Alexander testified a day or so later.

So while Snowden is clearly trying to push the debate, it is also quite likely that the immunity comment is true.

Tweet about this on Twitter24Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook17Google+0Email to someone

21 Responses to Edward Snowden: Congress Has Immunity from Spying, But You Don’t

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @JimWhiteGNV @emptywheel Perp. Fee. Trainers. Broken. What, did this transmorph into an Afghanistan discussion??
34mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @emptywheel @JimWhiteGNV Hey Okra lady, where you come in? Clearly yer not focused on mane attraction. Brennan sez don't be easily impressed
36mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV @emptywheel That prep cost is included in the overall fee to trainers for showing, so we don't see it broken out, thankfully. @bmaz
37mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @JimWhiteGNV And Gomer's up-do is even more expensive than $60, I was under the impression. @bmaz
39mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JimWhiteGNV No self respecting old man dances away from a hose.
39mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @nlanc Yeah, there were a number of computer-driven machine people at the show.
41mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV @bmaz Heh. Gomer is the most finicky of all. Dances away from the hose when getting bathed and keeps his poo in a neat pile in stall corner.
42mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JimWhiteGNV this ain't Gomer, as hard as it is to believe, I tend to grow rather finicky girlz. #Schadenfreude
45mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV @bmaz Hey, just use a rake and a leaf blower for free. Nobody will ever know the difference...
49mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Sasquatch is in the pool. That is good for her, but a $60 grooming for me. #WattaYouGonnaDo
50mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @carolrosenberg: Just in: #Guantanamo nurse who refused to force-feed prisoners sent home. http://t.co/z6vrh2dsZN @MiamiHerald http://t…
1hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @walterwkatz Been waiting to see what you had to say all week--looking forward to it.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
June 2013
S M T W T F S
« May   Jul »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30