NSA: The “Half-Bacon Agency”

My mom’s in town, so I’ll be doing light posting over the next several days.

But I did want to emphasize the rather startling news that came out of yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee on the NSA spying programs.

NSA Director John Inglis revealed that the FISA Court permits the government to do three jumps from an initial number tied to a phone number reasonably believed to be tied to terrorism (or relevant to Iran, though that search criteria didn’t get mentioned at all in the parts of the hearing I watched).

Three degrees of separation!

Remember, some years ago, every single person in the US could be connected via six degrees — the old Kevin Bacon game. There’s some evidence that that number has become smaller — perhaps as small as 3 (I’ve seen more scientific numbers that say it is 4.5 or thereabouts).

In any case, if the US is using the excuse of terror to get three jumps deep into US person associations, then this program is even more intrusive then they’ve let on.

One thing I didn’t see disclosed yesterday? To what extent the government claims these 3- (or 2, which — IIRC — Deputy Attorney General James Cole said was their most productive layer) degrees of separation from someone claimed in an articulation not closely reviewed has ties to terrorism. Is talking to someone who talks to someone who talks to someone who is a terrorist used, in secret, to claim people are agents of a foreign power?

In any case, this means the NSA has been spending its time playing 3 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon in secret.

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @armandodkos You know I love you right?
4mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @armandodkos Heh, Yes, I, of all people, am Mr. Beltway. Good one!
4mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @armandodkos Attacking and scolding people that agree with you seems a poor use of time.
10mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @armandodkos I dunno, I think fact I agree w/King decision+think it should prevail does that sufficiently. Just not belligerent enough for U
10mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Wonder if a futile suit against the President will lead Congress to do something about expansive immunity claims? Prolly not.
30mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @granick If they get handset ID because you're sitting next to me, is that CDR? Not traditionally, no. But it is included in permitted IDs.
43mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @granick We know they intend to use track burners. So if they're doing that analysis why would we believe they're not using location?
45mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @granick Not at all. They have to return to a CDR at each step. Says nothing about what they do to get there.
45mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @LemonSlayerUS I'm talking NGOs, not members of Congress.
47mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Fairly certain we've known for over 5 years Powell was not briefed on torture until September 16, 2002.
47mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Maybe I'm wrong and NSA doesn't intend to do contact chaining on location. But wouldn't it be smart to get something in writing first?
55mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Bunch of privacy NGOs just supported legislation w/o first getting promised assurances for ODNI it doesn't put NSA in our smartphones.
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July 2013
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