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 RT @kevinjonheller: By “constructive engagement,” the oft-embarrassing @AmbassadorPower means “give #Israel everything it wants.” http://t.…
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emptywheel But trust me--the belly button redefinition of relevance is not a rubber stamp court.
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emptywheel Then Claire Eagan cited 2010 Bates PRTT that cited 2006 no opinion relying on 2004 K-K thin air opinion. Voila! Foundational law.
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emptywheel Still laughing that FISC's idea of precedents is: 2004 PRTT expands relevance out of thin air 2006 BRFISA, no opinion 2010 Bates cites 2006
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emptywheel @TimothyS Which is a 5 year improvement off current performance!!! http://t.co/lBIKKBAb1V So count your blessings, you ingrate!
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emptywheel RT @TimothyS: TRANSPARENCY 101 The NSA just told me they need at least 4 more years to tell me when they will complete a FOIA request filed…
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emptywheel @HayesBrown That was very first statement, wasn't it? Very interesting. Thanks. Considering poss video was made earlier, only released now
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emptywheel RT @MikeScarcella: DC Circuit today sets NSA surveillance oral argument for Nov. 4. Members of three-judge panel not yet announced http://t…
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emptywheel @HayesBrown: I didn't see the vid. Which speech of Obama's did they show? 9th? 14th? 18th?
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emptywheel We okra appreciators will surely take over the world soon RT @nlanc: @EatYourBooks So good that I'm off to farmers' market for more okra!
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JimWhiteGNV RT @brycecovert: No American is guaranteed paid time off, but even those who get it are too stressed to take it http://t.co/lqhTi3bfoD
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JimWhiteGNV RT @mrosenbergNYT: NYT has not received expulsion order. Unclear if AG has right to issue order. We remain eager to cooperate w/in bounds o…
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