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
emptywheel @stevenzzhou Yes, at the individual level, rather than the programmatic level (tho JUST for phone records). Definitely better on that front.
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bmaz RT @JustADCohen: Court's reaction to prosecutor here is telling, shows disconnect, presages huge fight over records. http://t.co/FmLcHFvb3v
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bmaz @JustADCohen How could the court do that before the GJ concludes and challenges and protective motion time given? @stltoday
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emptywheel @YousefMunayyer Dunno. This is going to be someone signing big contracts w/lots of contractors. Sounds like great way to get rich.
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bmaz .@JustADCohen Why did anybody ever believe the court had already agreed to release of GJ material? @stltoday
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emptywheel @ShawnMusgrave That's all in anticipation of Section 215 report, should have HUGE newly declassified chunks, likely won't @charlie_savage
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emptywheel @ShawnMusgrave Real story coming out of several IG reports @charlie_savage has re-liberated so far is how much unclass they're still hiding
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bmaz RT @downwithtyranny: @KagroX- Funny how everything Lindsey Graham says or does comes down to the mendacity wrapped up in being a closet cas…
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emptywheel RT @bmaz: A Charlie Brown Congress http://t.co/TKYKw7GvQC Via @RosenzweigP
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emptywheel @rgoodlaw See also war on terror.
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emptywheel @rgoodlaw It's not clear we're well situated to do well bc 1) we make obvious mistakes 2) we don't care to offer better alternatives.
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emptywheel @rgoodlaw Calling Putin a crazy douchebag (he is) usually serves as a crutch to avoid thinking abt what kind of class this really is.
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