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 RT @csoghoian: The latest @lawfarepodcast in which I discuss the FBI's crypto "front door" & "going dark" with @benjaminwittes. http://t.co
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bmaz RT @ScottGreenfield: Nice to see @ma_franks denounce criminalizing cyberbullying, "long on good intentions and short on precision." http://…
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bmaz @benjaminwittes Stop. You are driving poor @johnson_carrie ....well....batty.
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bmaz @EdgeofSports I would not have. And its prob still bad call, but in retrospect, considering facing Bumgarner yes make defense make the play
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bmaz RT @KagroX: Kickstarter to buy Kaci Hickox a white Ford Bronco.
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bmaz @JulieATate Julie, clearly the Fox announcers last night did not slurp Bumgarner enough, and you NEED more of it. Think of the children!
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bmaz @walterwkatz If only there were a solution, like.....open and transparent accountability!
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bmaz @walterwkatz Think the reverse also true too; people who believe there is gross deficiency in police accountability have negative views.
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emptywheel @JulieATate Look on the bright side. Starting this weekend you've got a QB controversy to look forward to.
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bmaz @Espngreeny Again, Gibson in 1967.
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emptywheel @speechboy71 Btu as I said, those three questions should be fairly basic for anyone making claims you made in your review. @henryfarrell
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emptywheel @speechboy71 Started by pointing out things you were unaware of. You still make claims appear inadequately informed to make @henryfarrell
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