George Ellard

If NSA Commits Database Query Violations, But Nobody Audits Them, Do They Really Happen?

Barton Gellman, at the beginning of the worthwhile video above, addresses something I addressed here: the only way the government can claim they haven’t “abused” the rules governing NSA activities is by treating all abuse done in the name of the mission as a mistake.

The President, like a lot of people who work for him, has a very narrow definition of two key words in that passage. One is “abuse” and the other is “inappropriately.” As the government depicts it — and this is language it’s using that it does not, frankly, explain.

Abuse — the only kind of abuse that exists would be if, say, an NSA employee were to stalk his ex-wife or spy on movie stars or something of that nature. If they are performing the mission that the NSA wants them to perform, and nevertheless overstep their legal authority, make unauthorized interceptions or searches or retentions or sharing of secret information, that is not abuse, that’s a mistake.

That’s how they get to pretend the 9% to 20% of violations in which a person does not follow the rules seemingly intentionally (these are distinct from human error and training violations) does not constitute an abuse.

With that in mind, I wanted to look more closely at what the audit report says about how errors are found, as shown primarily in this figure:

Screen shot 2013-08-20 at 10.21.25 AM

That looks pretty good on the face, with 64% of all violations found via automated alert, plus a few more — data flow analysis and traffic scanning — that involve technological review.

But this detail on the roamer problem (in which valid foreign targets continue to be targeted when they travel to the US) explains what that’s not all that impressive.  Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @Sherry_Reson @JayAckroyd Wait....birthday?
2mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @azcentral: NEW DETAILS Director at Barrow Neurological Institute arrested with AR-15 rifle at Sky Harbor http://t.co/IgGYMXpTyR http:/…
26mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @azcentral @brahmresnik Is this guy one of the 2nd A gun nuts who go to businesses with assault weapons just to belligerently show they can?
26mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @jeff_kaye Agree.
32mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @dcbigjohn: Truly fantastic @AramRoston story: How A One-Time Pig Peddler Helped The U.S. Flood War Zones With Guns http://t.co/fL6eBdl1
49mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @pbump T-Mobile, not Verizon
54mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @jaketapper It is patently false, and it is reckless to disseminate that.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @jaketapper Let's be honest, Bob Baer in that article is either ignorant or he is lying about war crime status of mistake.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @Krhawkins5 I think they are willing to make noise, but never have the guts to pull the trigger or go full Mike Gravel.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @Krhawkins5 Not impossible, but remember all the noise Wyden+Udall made re NSA and, yet, never really did anything big.
4hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @MarkUdall @RonWyden This is bullshit; it is not happening. SSCI won't go for it+trigger won't get pulled.
4hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @lisang: Oh my god. This is where all the int'l media have their offices. MT @iFalasteen: Journalist building is burning now. http://t.c…
4hreplyretweetfavorite
July 2014
S M T W T F S
« Jun    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031