Michael Hayden

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Snowden: “A Classified Executive Order”

NSA Authorities TimelineYesterday, I noted that the subject of Edward Snowden’s emailed question to NSA’s Office of General Counsel pertained to one of the under-reported themes of his leaks, the way NSA uses EO 12333 to collect data on Americans that either clearly was or might have been covered by stricter laws passed by Congress. I also noted how unbelievably shitty the NSA training programs released to ACLU and EFF are, particularly the way seemingly outdated documents that remain in effect appear to allow spying on Americans prohibited by statute.

I’d like to return to the precise language Snowden used to refer to this email exchange (and a thus-far unreleased exchange he claims to have had with NSA’s Compliance folks).

Today’s release is incomplete, and does not include my correspondence with the Signals Intelligence Directorate’s Office of Compliance, which believed that a classified executive order could take precedence over an act of Congress, contradicting what was just published. 

I suggested yesterday that this was likely a conflict over whether EO 12333 superseded laws passed by Congress, including but not limited to FISA.

But note: Snowden says he asked about a “classified” EO.

EO 12333 is unclassified.

So there are two possibilities. First, that there’s a classified EO — one that remains classified  – that we don’t know about, one Congress may not even be fully cognizant of (on the premise that this EO supersedes the law).

That’s possible. But EO 12333 is the only EO referenced in USSID 18′s list of references.

USSID 18 References

The other possibility is far more interesting.

As I noted, the documents laying out the core regulations governing NSA conflict badly, largely because many of the documents are very dated, and have been (or should have been) superseded by recent laws (like the FISA Amendments Act) and court decisions (like John Bates’ 2011 ruling on upstream collection).

Of particular interest is NSA/CSS Policy 1-23 (starting at PDF 110). That policy is interesting, first of all, because it was first issued on March 11, 2004 by Michael Hayden. That is, this policy dates to the very day when Michael Hayden agreed to continue the illegal wiretap program even as half of DOJ threatened to quit.

The policy was updated twice, once to make what were considered minor adjustments in policy in 2007, and once in 2009 to incorporate FISA Amendments Act changes. Thus, the policy at least purports to fully incorporate FAA. The 2009 reissue — and its classified annex — is considered among the signature authorizing milestones according to a timeline leaked by Snowden, above, and the only one that mentions a classified annex.

But — as I noted yesterday — the policy still relies on (and incorporates) a classified annex to EO 12333 that was written in 1988 (though the document itself bears the March 11, 2004 date). Continue reading

NSA Collection: Show Me the $$

As part of its superb piece on NSA spying on Tuesday, Frontline included interviews with key sources. In my opinion, the most enlightening was that with former HPSCI staffer Diane Roark, so you should read that entire interview (especially her comments on NSA at 9/11).

Both she and Tom Drake mention a part of the illegal NSA program that has been largely forgotten: the financial records. Here’s Roark’s non-denial.

And from what you knew at that point, what type of information was taken, and how pervasive was the collection?

It is now quite obvious, since the Snowden revelations, that the program grew progressively over time. Initially, I knew that it involved a lot of broad domestic surveillance, bulk collection, domestically. And I knew that it involved emails, landlines, regular house phones, cell phones. I also knew that they had branched out into non-communications data.

Which is what, bank records? 

I’m not really — they have not acknowledged that. All I can tell you is that when I met the second time with Gen. Hayden in July, I said to him that it appeared the program was expanding, not only in number of servers, but also that two new data categories had recently been added, and he nodded to confirm that. I knew that one of those data programs was not communications data. …

And other commentators have made allusions to other personal data that may be collected. Of course, we all know that transportation data, airline data is connected. We know that international banking data is collected; that has been acknowledged. But there have been allusions to other items, too, by people hypothetically, such as credit, medical, banking and so on.

And here’s Drake’s more explicit mention of it.

You watched the president [George W. Bush] come out and say this is a valuable program; one side of the communications has to be outside; we’re following terrorists; this has prevented attacks on our country. The vice president [Dick Cheney] attacks the Times for publishing. You’re watching this, and you know what’s going on inside. What are you thinking?

This actually was part of the triggering event for me in which increasingly I knew I was going to have to touch the third rail, back to your earlier question. I realized that they were lying, that they were desperate to protect the domestic surveillance program. And so they could use the excuse, although it was still in violation of FISA, that as long as one link somehow was tied to a suspected terrorist, that justified collecting or targeting the link that was in the United States proper.

That was just the tip of the iceberg. The far larger program was the dragnet surveillance, the vast bulk copy of millions and millions of phone records, email records, Internet usage and financial transactional and credit card information.

Since the Snowden leaks started we’ve heard almost nothing about this. There have been the two stories about the CIA collecting Western Union records with at least one end foreign. There is the 2010 Section 215 order tied to an allegedly specific investigation, which must long post-date the CIA-related orders.

What happened to this collection? Is it the April 2, 2004 modification we have never learned about? Is it the second secret Section 215 appendix included in Glenn Fine’s 2008 report? Have they been accomplishing this via NSLs, or perhaps only recently moved it to Section 215? I have suggested in the past that for domestic records, FBI would be the likely lead … is that right?

The financial records collection has, outside of Shane Harris’ book (on TIA), completely disappeared.

But it must be under a new shell somewhere.

“Facts Matter” Said NSA Yay-Man Michael Hayden Who Told Serial Lies about the Phone Dragnet

I’m not sure if you saw last night’s Munk Debate pitting Glenn Greenwald and Alexis Ohanian against Michael Hayden and Alan Dershowitz. I did a whole slew of fact checking and mockery on twitter last night.

But I wanted to pay particular attention to a string of false claims Hayden made about the phone dragnet program.

First, my hobbyhorse, he claimed the database can only be used for terror. (After 1:08)

If this program — and here we’re talking about the metadata program — which is about terrorism, because the only reason you can use the metadata is to stop terrorism. No other purpose.

Actually, terrorism and … Iranian “terrorism.” It’s unclear when or why or how Iran got included in database access (though it is considered a state sponsor of terror). But according to Dianne Feinstein and Keith Alexander, analysts can also access the database for Iran-related information. Now, maybe they can only access the Iran data if they claim terror. But that’s a very different thing than claiming a tie to al Qaeda.

The real doozies come later (my transcription; after 1:20:40; I’ve numbered the false claims and provided the “facts matter” below).

I started out with facts matter. So I assume on the metadata issue we’re talking about the 215 program. About the phone records, alright? Because frankly, that’s the only bulk metadata NSA has on American citizens. (1)

[cross talk]

Accusations fit on a bumper sticker. The truth takes longer. NSA gets from American telephone providers the billing records of American citizens. (2) What happens to the billing records is actually really important. I didn’t make this phrase up but I’m gonna use it. They put it in a lock box, alright? They put it in a lock box at NSA. (3) 22 people at NSA are allowed to access that lockbox. (4) The only thing NSA is allowed to do with that truly gajillion record field sitting there is that when they have what’s called a seed number, a seed number about which they have reasonable articulable suspicion that that seed number is affiliated with al Qaeda — you roll up a safe house in Yay-Man, he’s got pocket litter, that says here’s his al Qaeda membership card, he’s got a phone you’ve never seen before. Gee, I wonder how this phone might be associated with any threats in the United States. (5) So, I’ll be a little cartoonish about this, NSA gets to walk up to the transom and yell through the transom and say hey, anybody talk to this number I just found in Yay-Man? And then, this number, say in Buffalo, says well, yeah, I call him about every Thursday. NSA then gets to say okay Buffalo number — by the way, number, not name — Buffalo number, who did you call. At which point, by description the 215 metadata program is over. That’s all NSA is allowed to do with the data. There is no data mining, there’s no powerful algorithms chugging through it, trying to imagine relationships. (6)   It’s did that dirty number call someone in the United States. The last year for which NSA had full records is 2012 — I’ll get the 13 numbers shortly (7) — but in 2012, NSA walked up to that transom and yelled “hey! anybody talk to this number?” 288 times. (8)

(1) Under the SPCMA authority, NSA can include US persons in contact-chaining of both phone and Internet metadata collected overseas. SPCMA has far fewer of the dissemination and subject matter limitations that the Section 215 dragnet has.

(2) NSA doesn’t get the “billing records.” It gets routing information, which includes a great deal of data (such as the cell phone and SIM card ID and telecom routing information) that wouldn’t be included on a phone bill, even assuming a bill was itemized at all (most local landline calls are not). It also gets the data every day, not every month, like a billing record.

(3) Starting in early January 2008, NSA made a copy of the dragnet data and “for the purposes of analytical efficiency” dumped it in with all their other metadata. That allows them to conduct “federated queries,” which is contact chaining across authorities (so chains including both foreign collected EO12333 data and domestic Section 215 data). The NSA coaches its analysts to rerun queries that are replicable in EO12333 alone because of the greater dissemination that permits.

(4) The 22 number refers to the people who can approve an identifier for Reasonable Articulable Suspicion, not the people who can conduct queries. Those 22 are:

the Chief or Deputy Chief, Homeland Security Analysis Center; or one of the twenty specially-authorized Homeland Mission Coordinators in the Analysis and Production Directorate of the Signals Intelligence Directorate.

While we don’t know how many analysts are trained on Section 215 dragnet right now, the number was 125 in August 2010.

But even those analysts are not the only people who can access the database. “Technicians” may do so too.

Appropriately trained and authorized technical personnel may access the BR metadata to perform those processes needed to make it usable for intelligence analysis. Technical personnel may query the BR metadata using selection terms that have not been RAS-approved (described below) for those purposes described above, and may share the results of those queries with other authorized personnel responsible for these purposes, but the results of any such queries ill not be used for intelligence analysis purposes. An authorized technician may access the BR metadata to ascertain those identifiers that may be high volume identifiers. The technician may share the results of any such access, i.e., the identifiers and the fact that they are high volume identifiers, with authorized personnel (including those responsible for the identification and defeat of high volume and other unwanted BR metadata from any of NSA’s various metadata repositories), but may not share any other information from the results of that access for intelligence analysis purposes.

And this access — which requires access to the raw metadata — is not audited.

(5) Note, in the past, the government has also accessed the database with “correlated” identifiers — phone numbers and SIM cards associated with the same person. It’s unclear what the current status of querying on correlated identifiers is, but that is likely the topic of one of the FISC opinions the government is withholding, and the government is withholding the opinion in question in the name of protecting an ongoing functionality.

(6) Hayden pretends there’s a clear boundary to this program, but even the FISC minimization procedures for it approve the corporate store, where these query results — people 2 degrees from someone subjected to a digital stop-and-frisk — may be subjected to “the full range of [NSA's] analytic tradecraft.” So when Hayden says there’s no data mining and no powerful algorithms, he’s lying about the data mining and powerful algorithms (and content access) that are permitted for identifiers in the corporate store.

(7) Given that DOJ has already released their numbers for FISA use in 2013, I presume it also has the number of identifiers that have been queried.

(8) The 288 number refers to the number of identifiers queried, not the number of queries run. Given that the dragnet serves as a kind of alert system — to see who has had contracts with a certain number over time — the number of actual queries is likely significantly higher, as most of the identifiers were likely run multiple times.

Shorter DiFi: The Torture Report Started in Response to Michael Hayden’s Lie

I gotta hand it to Dianne Feinstein: the closest she comes to calling Michael Hayden a shriveled impotent old man in response to his suggestions she’s a hysterical female is when (at 6 minutes) she says calling women emotional is “an old male fallback position.”

Far more interesting, though, is the description she offers for the genesis of the report. It arose in response to Hayden’s damage control after CIA’s destruction of the torture tapes became public.

In December [2007]–the 11th–Director Hayden appeared before our committee and said he would allow members and/or staff to review operational cables which he said were just as good.

[snip]

The genesis of the report was back with the videotape and back under then Chairman Rockefeller, who assigned staff, staff studied the operational cables, came back, reported to us, we took a look at that and said — both sides — we should move ahead and do a full study.

And while she doesn’t say it, she makes clear that Hayden lied in this damage control, when he said the “operational cables were just as good” as the torture tapes.

He can’t know that.

The backup to the CIA IG Report, after all, is that the even by the time CIA’s Office of General Counsel decided to destroy the tapes, they had been damaged.

[Redacted] for many of the tapes one 1/2 or 3/4 of the tape “there was nothing.” [Redacted] on some tapes it was apparent that the VCR had been turned off and then turned back on right away. [Redacted] on other tapes the video quality was poor and on others the tape had been reused (taped over) or not recorded at all. [Redacted] The label on some tapes read “interrogation session,” but when viewed there was just snow. [Redaction] did not make note of this in [redaction] report. [Redaction] estimated that “half a dozen” videotapes had been taped over or were “snowy.”

And at least one torture session, including waterboarding, was not captured on the tapes at all.

OIG compared the videotapes to logs and cables and identified a 21-hour period of time” which included two waterboard sessions” that was not captured on the videotapes.

That’s important because the IG also found that the waterboarding depicted in the videos that remained undamaged didn’t comply with the guidelines laid out by DOJ. In other words, there’s very good reason to believe that the tapes got destroyed, in part, because they showed CIA exceeding the legal limits laid out by DOJ.

To make things worse, Rockefeller had requested the torture tapes in the weeks before they got destroyed.

So I can imagine how Hayden’s bullshit line about the cables being just as good as the torture tapes withheld from Rockefeller might launch an investigation.

Michael Hayden has only himself to blame for this report.

In Defending Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden Reminds that Michael Hayden Lied to Congress

Like Harry Reid and Mark Udall, Ron Wyden has defended Dianne Feinstein against Michael Hayden’s suggestion that she’s too “emotional” to investigate torture.

But unlike Reid and Udall — who attack Hayden for being a sexist pig (though not in that language) — Wyden attacks Hayden for being a liar.

General Hayden’s suggestion that Chairman Feinstein was motivated by ‘emotion’ rather than a focus on the facts is simply outrageous. Over the past five years I watched Chairman Feinstein manage this investigation in an extremely thorough and professional manner, and the result is an extraordinarily detailed report based on millions of pages of internal CIA records, including operational cables, internal memos, and interview transcripts.

General Hayden unfortunately has a long history of misleading the American public – he did it on domestic surveillance when he was the head of the NSA, and he did it on torture when he was the CIA Director. The best way to correct this culture of misinformation is to give the American people a chance to review the facts for themselves, and I’ll be working with my colleagues and the administration to ensure that happens quickly.

Mind you, Wyden focuses on Hayden’s lies to the American people.

But it’s as good a time as any to recall the lies Hayden told the Senate Intelligence Committee on April 12, 2007, when he said the following:

While FBI and CIA continued unsuccessfully to try to glean information from Abu Zubaydah using established US Government interrogation techniques, all of those involved were mindful that the perpetrators of the 11 September attacks were still at large and, according to available intelligence reportedly, were actively working to attack the US Homeland again. CIA also knew from its intelligence holdings that Abu Zubaydah was withholding information that could help us track down al-Qa’ida leaders and prevent attacks. As a result, CIA began to develop its own interrogation program, keeping in mind at all times that any new interrogation techniques must comply with US law and US international obligations under the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

A handful of techniques were developed for potential use; these techniques are effective, safe, and do not violate applicable US laws or treaty obligations. In August 2002, CIA began using these few and lawful interrogation techniques in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. As stated by the President in his speech on 6 September 2006, “It became clear that he (Abu Zubaydah) had received training on how to resist interrogation. And so the CIA used an alternative set of procedures … the procedures were tough, and thy were safe, and lawful, and necessary.”

Prior to using any new technique on Abu Zubaydah, CIA sought and obtained from the Department of Justice an opinion confirming that none of these new techniques violated US statutes prohibiting torture or US obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture.

As CIA’s efforts to implement these authorities got underway in 2002, the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, the Speaker and the minority leader of the House, and the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence committees were fully briefed on the interrogation procedures.

After the use of these techniques, Abu Zubaydah became one of our most important sources of intelligence on al-Qa’ida. [my emphasis]

The lies here include:

  • FBI was successful at getting intelligence from Abu Zubaydah
  • CIA never considered the Convention against Torture until after the CIA IG Report in 2004
  • CIA knew Abu Zubaydah had lied under torture in the past
  • CIA did not receive DOJ authorization before starting the torture, which started before August 1
  • CIA used techniques outside those approved by DOJ
  • Only the Gang of Four got briefed on Abu Zubaydah’s torture, and even then they were not fully briefed until February 2003

It is highly likely that Hayden knew that most of these were lies, but for most I can’t prove that. I also doubt Zubaydah had information on the whereabouts of al Qaeda’s leadership.

But as I showed in this post, I can prove that he did know only the Gang of Four got briefed on torture.

That’s because the day before Hayden testified at the SSCI hearing, in a memo addressed to him entitled “Information for 12 April SSCI Hearing,” CIA laid out all the briefings they had done on torture and rendition. And CIA’s own records–records Hayden received the day before he made these statements in preparation for the hearing–show that:

  • Tom Daschle, Senate Majority Leader from the time the torture began until the end of 2002, and Minority Leader until the end of 2004, was never briefed on the torture program.
  • Trent Lott, Senate Minority Leader until the end of 2003, was never briefed on the torture program while in leadership (though as a member of SSCI, he was briefed on the torture program on March 15, 2006).
  • Denny Hastert, Speaker of the House through the end of 2006, was not briefed on any aspect of the program until July 1, 2005.
  • Dick Gephardt, House Minority Leader through the end of 2003 (and therefore, through the worst torture) was never briefed on the program.
  • Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader from 2005 until 2007 and Senate Majority Leader thereafter, was not briefed until September 6, 2006, when Bush made the program public.
  • Though Nancy Pelosi had an (incomplete) briefing as House Intelligence Ranking Member in 2002, she did not have a briefing as House Minority Leader.
  • Just Bill Frist, who was first briefed in July 2004, seven months after he took over as Senate Majority Leader, was briefed in timely fashion at all.

The Intelligence Committee heads were briefed, however inadequately. But with the exception of Bill Frist, the CIA barely briefed Congressional Leadership at all.

I had forgotten how blatantly Hayden lied, in what would have been one of the earliest briefings for the full Committee after they first got read into the program.

But it’s clear he did lie. And he lied about information he had just been informed was a lie.

No wonder Hayden seems so desperate to defend his own manhood at this time.

He’s about to be exposed.

Update: While we’re talking about Michael Hayden lies, here’s my new favorite NSA lie, when he had Paul Wolfowitz tell Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that NSA wasn’t collecting content-as-metadata in the Internet dragnet program when they actually were.

The Court had specifically directed the government to explain whether this unauthorized collection involved the acquisition of information other than the approved Categories [redacted] Order at 7. In response, the Deputy Secretary of Defense [Paul Wolfowitz] stated that the “Director of NSA [Michael Hayden] has informed me that at no time did NSA collect any category of information … other than the [redacted] categories of meta data” approved in the [redacted] Opinion, but also note that NSA’s Inspector General [Joel Brenner] had not completed his assessment of this issue. [redacted] Decl. at 21.13 As discussed below, this assurance turned out to be untrue.

13 At a hearing on [redacted] Judge Kollar-Kotelly referred to this portion of the Deputy Secretary’s declaration and asked: “Can we conclude that there wasn’t content here?” [redacted] of NSA, replied, “There is not the physical possibility of our having [redacted] [my emphasis]

Would We Have Accepted the Dragnet if NSA Had to Admit It Could Have Prevented 9/11?

Screen shot 2014-02-18 at 10.16.30 AMI’m going to return to Glenn Greenwald’s latest showing details of how the NSA treated WikiLeaks and, to a lesser degree, Anonymous (as well as Alexa O’Brien’s update on the investigation into WikiLeaks) later.

If GCHQ does this kind of tracking, how did Five Eyes miss the Tsarnaev brothers?

But for now I want to look at one slide covering GCHQ’s AntiCrisis monitoring approach (see slide 34), which in this case is focused on WikiLeaks. It shows how GCHQ has the ability — and had it in 2012 — to monitor particular websites. It shows GCHQ can monitor the visitors of a particular website, where they’re coming from, what kind of browsers they use. None of that is, in the least surprising. But given those capabilities, it would be shocking if GCHQ weren’t doing similar monitoring of AQAP’s online magazine Inspire, with the added benefit that certain text strings in each Inspire magazine would make it very easy to track copies of it as it was downloaded, even domestically via upstream collection. And for the UK, this isn’t even controversial; even possessing Inspire in the UK can get you imprisoned.

Given that that’s the case, why didn’t GCHQ and NSA find the Tsarnaev brothers who — the FBI has claimed but provided no proof — learned to make a bomb from the Inspire release that GCHQ or NSA hacked? Why isn’t NSA reviewing why it didn’t find the brothers based on cross-referencing likely NSA tracking of Inspire with its FBI reporting on Tamerlan Tsarnaev?

I used to not believe NSA should have found the Tsarneavs. But now that I’ve seen all the nifty tools we’ve learned NSA and, especially, GCHQ have, they really do owe us an explanation for why they didn’t find the Tsarnaev brothers, one of whom was already in an FBI database, and who was allegedly learning to make a pressure cooker bomb from a document that surely gets tracked by the NSA and its partners.

Speaking of NSA failures…

Which brings me back to James Clapper’s interview with Eli Lake.

Clapper said the problems facing the U.S. intelligence community over its collection of phone records could have been avoided. “I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will. Had we been transparent about this from the outset right after 9/11—which is the genesis of the 215 program—and said both to the American people and to their elected representatives, we need to cover this gap, we need to make sure this never happens to us again, so here is what we are going to set up, here is how it’s going to work, and why we have to do it, and here are the safeguards… We wouldn’t have had the problem we had,” Clapper said.

“What did us in here, what worked against us was this shocking revelation,” he said, referring to the first disclosures from Snowden. If the program had been publicly introduced in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, most Americans would probably have supported it. “I don’t think it would be of any greater concern to most Americans than fingerprints

Now, I’ll have to review the latest declarations in Jewel, but I think Clapper’s statement — that the genesis of today’s phone dragnet dates to 9/11 –  goes slightly beyond what has been admitted, because it ties today’s phone dragnet program back to the PSP phone dragnet program. Ron Wyden has tried to make the tie between the illegal program and the current one clear for months. Clapper has now inched closer to doing so.

But I also want to take issue with Clapper’s claim that if NSA had presented a “gap” to Members of Congress and the public after 9/11 we would have loved the dragnet.

Had we known of the errors and territorialism that permitted 9/11, would we have agreed to any of this?

I do so, in part, because the claim there was a “gap” is erroneous and has been proven to be erroneous over and over. Moreover, that myth dates not to the days after 9/11, but to misrepresentations about the content of the 9/11 Commission report 3 years later. Note, too, that (as has happened with Inspector Generals reviews of the Boston Marathon attack) the Commission got almost no visibility into what NSA had against al Qaeda.

More importantly, had NSA gone to the public with claims about gaps it did and didn’t have before 9/11, we would likely have talked not about providing NSA more authority to collect dragnets, but instead, about the responsibility of those who sat on intelligence that might have prevented 9/11.

As Thomas Drake and the other NSA whistleblowers have made clear, the NSA had not shared intelligence reports that might have helped prevent 9/11.

I found the pre- and post-9/11 intelligence from NSA monitoring of some of the hijackers as they planned the attacks of 9/11 had not been shared outside NSA. Continue reading

Michael Hayden: Bulk Collection Is Better for Privacy than Particularized Collection

Michael Hayden’s wisdom:

Frankly, metadata is one way that you arrive at those specific targeting conclusions in a way that certainly, from the American perspective, does not squeeze privacy very much because it is bulk collection, not particularized collection.

According to the former Director of NSA, bulk metadata collection is more privacy protective than particularized collection is.

I get what he’s trying to say: because the government works at the level of metadata, NSA only looks at communications from an structural perspective, rather than listening in to find what to listen to, until it has reason to be interested in. That ignores everything you see from that network structure, and the degree to which it infringes on perfectly innocent associations.

More importantly, that Hayden doesn’t understand that the statement itself is nonsensical is a testament to how far down the rabbit hole he has gone.

The Dead-Enders Insist Their Illegal Dragnet Was and Is Not One

As I noted in my last post, seven Bush dead-enders plus KS Representative and House Intelligence member Mike Pompeo wrote a letter to … someone … pushing back against the RNC condemnation of the NSA dragnet. As I noted in that post, along with waggling their collective national security experience, the dead-enders used the same old stale tricks to deny that the dragnet surveils US person content.

The stale tricks, by now, are uninteresting. I find the list of the dead-enders (Eli Lake fleshed it out here) more so.

Here’s the list of the dead-enders:

  • Michael Hayden (NSA Director until 2005, DDNI 2005-2006, CIA Director 2006-2009)
  • Mike Mukasey (AG 2007-2008)
  • Michael Chertoff (DOJ Criminal AAG 2001-2003, DHS Secretary 2005-2009)
  • Stewart Baker (Assistant DHS Secretary 2005-2009)
  • Steven Bradbury (Acting OLC head 2005-2009)
  • Eric Edelman (National Security lackey in OVP 2001-2003, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy 2005-2009)
  • Ken Wainstein (AAG for National Security 2006-2008, White House CT Czar 2008-2009)

Some of these we expect. Michael Hayden and Stewart Baker have been two of the main cheerleaders for NSA since the start of Snowden’s leaks, and Michael Chertoff’s firm (at which Hayden works) seems to be working under some kind of incentive to have as many of its top people defend the dragnet as well. Further, both Bradbury and Wainstein have testified to various entities along the way.

So in some senses, it’s the usual gang of dead-enders.

But I find the collection of Michael Mukasey, Bradbury, and Wainstein, to be particularly interesting.

After all, they’re the 3 names (and in Mukasey’s case, authorizing signature) on this memo, which on January 3, 2008 authorized NSA to contact chain Internet (and phone) “metadata” of Americans collected via a variety of means, including FISA, broadly defined, which would include Protect America Act, and EO 12333 and potentially other means — but let’s just assume it was collected legally, Bradbury and Wainstein say twice in the memo.

They implemented this change, in part, to make it easier to share “United States communications metadata” outside of the NSA, including with CIA, by name (though CIA made that request in 2004, before Hayden had moved over to CIA).

When implementing the change, they defined Internet “metadata” this way:

b) For electronic communications, “metadata” includes the information appearing on the “to,” “from,” “cc,” and “bcc” lines of a standard e-mail or other electronic communication. For e-mail communications, the “from” line contains the e-mail address of the sender, and the “to,” “cc,” and “bcc” lines contain the e-mail addresses of the recipients. “Metadata” also means (1) information about the Internet-protocol (IP) address of the computer from which an e-mail or other electronic communication was sent and, depending on the circumstances, the IP address of routers and servers on the Internet that have handled the communication during transmission; (2) the exchange of an IP address and e-mail address that occurs when a user logs into a web-based e-mail service; and (3) for certain logins to web-based e-mail accounts, inbox metadata that is transmitted to the user upon accessing the account. “Metadata” associated with electronic communications does not include information from the “subject” or “re” line of an e-mail or information from the body of an e-mail.

It includes IP (both sender and recipient, as well as interim), email address, inbox metadata which has reported to include content as well.

But let’s take a step back and remember some timing.

In 2004 DOJ tried to clean up NSA’s Internet metadata problem which legally implicated Michael Hayden directly (because he personally continued it after such time as DOJ said it was not legal). The solution was to get Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sign an opinion (dated July 14, 2004) approving the Internet collection as a Pen Register/Trap and Trace order. But she limited what categories of “metadata” could be collected, almost certainly to ensure the metadata in question was actually metadata to the telecoms collecting it.

Before the very first order expired — so before October 12, 2004 — the NSA already started breaking those rules. When they disclosed that violation, they provided some of the same excuses as when they disclosed the phone dragnet violations in 2009: that the people who knew the rules didn’t communicate them adequately to the people implementing the rules (see page 10ff of this order). As part of those disclosures, however, they falsely represented to the FISC that they had only collected the categories of “metadata” Kollar-Kotelly had approved.

The Court had specifically directed the government to explain whether this unauthorized collection involved the acquisition of information other than the approved Categories [redacted] Order at 7. In response, the Deputy Secretary of Defense [Paul Wolfowitz] stated that the “Director of NSA [Michael Hayden] has informed me that at no time did NSA collect any category of information … other than the [redacted] categories of meta data” approved in the [redacted] Opinion, but also note that NSA’s Inspector General [Joel Brenner] had not completed his assessment of this issue. [redacted] Decl. at 21.13 As discussed below, this assurance turned out to be untrue.

Continue reading

Apparently, US Officials Can’t Get Verizon on the Line

The WaPo has a story quoting anonymous US officials warning that it will be impossible to meet President Obama’s direction to find a solution for the phone dragnet by March 28. (Note, this is a circumstance where WaPo really ought to provide a bit more description of who these anonymous sources are, particularly given the likelihood that 1) certain Congressional sources can be expected to sabotage any plan and 2) certain contractors can be expected to try to profit off any changes.)

But I couldn’t get beyond this line without laughing:

No meeting has been scheduled between government officials and the phone companies to discuss the issue, and no decision has been made about approaching the companies to further discuss the possibility of them holding the records.

In a story claiming there are real obstacles to making this move, WaPo reports that no one has talked to Verizon and the other telecoms, nor have they even decided whether to talk to them about holding the records.

That is, one excuse cited by these anonymous and potentially self-interested people is that they have not yet gotten Verizon on the line.

As if establishing communication with a telecom that is supplying “substantially all” of their metadata on a daily basis would be prohibitively difficult.

At least that’s the story they’re telling, behind the veil of anonymity.

Former Top NSA Officials Insist Employees Are Leaving Because Obama Is Mean, Not Because They Object To NSA’s Current Activities

Ellen Nakashima has a story that purports to show 1) significant morale problems at the NSA and 2) proof that the morale stems from Obama’s failure to more aggressively support the NSA in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.

The story relies in significant part on former NSA IG Joel Brenner and two other former officials who insisted on remaining anonymous because “they still have dealings” with the NSA.

“The agency, from top to bottom, leadership to rank and file, feels that it is had no support from the White House even though it’s been carrying out publicly approved intelligence missions,” said Joel Brenner, NSA inspector general from 2002 to 2006. “They feel they’ve been hung out to dry, and they’re right.”

A former U.S. official — who like several other former officials interviewed for this story requested anonymity because he still has dealings with the agency — said: “The president has multiple constituencies — I get it. But he must agree that the signals intelligence NSA is providing is one of the most important sources of intelligence today.

“So if that’s the case, why isn’t the president taking care of one of the most important elements of the national security apparatus?”

[snip]

A second former official said NSA workers are polishing up their résumés and asking that they be cleared — removing any material linked to classified programs — so they can be sent out to potential employers. He noted that one employee who processes the résumés said, “I’ve never seen so many résumés that people want to have cleared in my life.”

Morale is “bad overall,” a third former official said. “The news — the Snowden disclosures — it questions the integrity of the NSA workforce,” he said. “It’s become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, ‘Why are you spying on Grandma?’ And we aren’t. People are feeling bad, beaten down.”

Does “still have dealings with the agency” mean these people still contract to it, indirectly or directly? If it does, how much of this contracting works through The Chertoff Group, where a slew of former officials seem to have had remarkably consistent interests in spreading this line for months? Nakashima might want to provide more details about this in any future of these stories, as it may tell us far more about how much these men are profiting for espousing such views.

After all, while they do provide evidence that NSA employees are leaving, they provide only second-hand evidence — evidence that is probably impossible for any of these figures to gain in depth personally — that the issue pertains to Obama’s response.

And there are at least hints that NSA employees might be leaving for another reason: they don’t want to be a part of programs they’re only now — thanks to compartmentalization — learning about

We can look to the two letters the NSA has sent to “families” of workers for such hints.

The first, sent in September (page one, page two, h/t Kevin Gosztola), got sent just 3 days after the release of documents showing NSA had been violating just about every rule imposed on the phone dragnet for the first three years it operated (partly, it should be said, because of Joel Brenner’s inadequate oversight at its inception). In the guise of providing more context to NSA employee family members about that and recent disclosures, Keith Alexander and John Inglis wrote,

We want to put the information you are reading and hearing about in the press into context and reassure you that this Agency and its workforce are deserving and appreciative of your support. Continue reading

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @outofideas4anam I'd say the 6' fence would prevent them from competing w/anything OUTSIDE the fence. But I thought that abt the egress too.
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bmaz @KenGude @gregorydjohnsen @steve_vladeck @joshgerstein Agree with that. But the discussion has been being had what they would ideally like.
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JimWhiteGNV RT @SIGARHQ: Concerned that US-purchased weapons could be obtained by insurgents & pose risk to Afghans http://t.co/uSsixEHp6P
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emptywheel @billmon1 Which is when the kids would run away from home and join a punk band if only Rafah were open.
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emptywheel RT @NYCLU: New Yorkers in NYC can use our app 'Stop & Frisk Watch' to record & report NYPD interactions w/public: http://t.co/6IGGcLcU3k
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JimWhiteGNV RT @kevinjonheller: @Siun @JimWhiteGNV Come on. Who are you going to trust — the eyes of an @NBCNews reporter or the #IDF’s PR unit? #GazaU
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emptywheel @billmon1 Also, scary Aunt Liz and Grandpa Dick are due any moment to start screaming at Mom for weakening Israe-- Um, America.
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emptywheel @billmon1 Sort of has a "when your father gets home" feel to things.
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JimWhiteGNV RT @Siun: NBC backs down under Israeli pressure - changes report on NBC journo seeing Israeli drone hit Al Shifa #gaza #NBC http://t.co/fCe
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bmaz RT @mattapuzzo: @robertcaruso either way represents very broad reading of law enforcement privilege
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emptywheel @KanysLupin They've taken over my egress window--hope the firemen don't mind stepping on strawberries. But they've escaped now.
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emptywheel @JimWhiteGNV Well, we're still at the initial, 10 pod stage. And there's plenty of space there.
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