Contractors Already Have Access to the Phone Dragnet

In today’s HJC hearing on the NSA, there was extensive discussion about the risks of outsourcing the dragnet to the telecoms or — especially, to a third party holding all the data. It’s a concern I share.

That said, not a single person at the hearing seemed to be aware of this footnote, which has been in the phone dragnet primary orders since at least last April.

5 For purposes of this Order, “National Security Agency” and “NSA personnel” are defined as any employees of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service (“NSA/CSS” or “NSA”) and any other personnel engaged in Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) operations authorized pursuant to FISA if such operations are executed under the direction, authority, or control of the Director, NSA/Chief, CSS (DIRNSA).

If this language left any doubt that it permits contractors to directly query the database of every single phone-based relationship in the US, this language from Dianne Feinstein’s Fake FISA Fix bill report (which aims to codify the status quo) should eliminate them.

The Committee believes that, to the greatest extent practicable, all queries conducted to the authorities established under this section should be performed by Federal employees. Nonetheless, the Committee acknowledges that it may be necessary in some cases to use contractors to perform such queries. By using the term “government personnel” the Committee does not intend to prohibit such contractor use.

Contractors already have access to the dragnet.

If it presents a security threat to have contractors from Booz Allen Hamilton or some other intelligence contractor to have direct access to the dragnet, then we need to shut the dragnet down.

Because they’ve already got it.

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5 Responses to Contractors Already Have Access to the Phone Dragnet

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz Agreed RT @bsdtectr Have to give props to Lemon for pushing back.
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bmaz .@MikeForester The Baltimore mayor seemed to have a bit of perspective, but, yes, Gov Hogan seemed like Ross Barnett or early George Wallace
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bmaz RT @MikeForester: @bmaz He borrowed Ross Barnett's playbook
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bmaz RT @BlanksSlate: @bmaz It worked for Bull Connor & George Wallace...what?!?
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bmaz Hey Maryland Governor Hogan, these are your citizens, that your state and cops have shit on and killed. Wake up man.
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bmaz Welp, this Larry Hogan, Governor of Maryland, is quite the jackass in saying it is all the fault of "outside agitators".
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bmaz I bitch+moan enough about @CNN lameness, but tonight in Baltimore is what they still do superbly. @jaketapper and crew are doing great work
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bmaz @ThomasonTweet Not sure there is a great answer. Good night.
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bmaz RT @ThomasonTweet: @bmaz and the systemic racial imbalance in the penal system is over-shadowed by the flames
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bmaz @ThomasonTweet Yeah+I know you have seen me rail about the regression we just took with Lynch from Holder. Progress is very halting it seems
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bmaz @ThomasonTweet It came close, but the pictures were really mostly of cops overreacting in Ferguson. This seems....different.
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bmaz @ThomasonTweet I think one of the great things about Ferguson is, despite a little ugliness+great police caterwauling, this didn't happen
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