An Unclassified Statement about Where NSA’s Internet Dragnet Went

In a declaration submitted in EPIC’s FOIA for the PRTT dragnet data, NSA’s David Sherman tried to explain why NSA can’t reveal additional details of the domestic Internet dragnet shut down in 2011.

In an effort to explain why NSA can’t reveal the categories of content-as-metadata the NSA had been (illegally) collecting in the US, as well as why it can’t reveal all the types of electronic communications metadata it collects (ALL), he says the following.

While the bulk PR/TT electronic communications metadata program is no longer operational, NSA is authorized to acquire and collect certain categories of electronic communications metadata under other authorities (such as Executive Order 12333, as amended, and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008). The continuing importance of the specific categories of Internet metadata that were collected under the bulk PR/TT program underscores the need to protect the still-classified operational details of this activity.

[snip]

As noted above, while the  bulk PR/TT program is no longer operational, NSA’s core mission continues to include the acquisition and collection of electronic communications under other authorities.

That is, in a declaration reminding that NSA shut down its domestic bulk dragnet program, it admits it still conducts Internet metadata collection, and suggests it does so under EO 12333 and FAA.

Which is precisely where I’ve been suggesting it moved the program.

There are other aspects of this declaration that are interesting — especially when read in conjunction with DOJ National Security Division Mark Bradley’s declaration.

But for the moment, I’ll just leave it at this language, affirming NSA’s known continued collection of Internet metadata, even after shutting down the domestic Internet dragnet.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

4 replies
  1. What Constitution? says:

    Why are they doing this? Because they can, because they want to, because nobody is stopping them. But I’ll bet they have some “protocols” somewhere that make us “safe”. And as the Supreme Court has assured us in Riley v. California just this past Term, the Founders fought a revolution so there could be “protocols” to make us “safe”. Oh, wait, it’s the opposite of that.

  2. Cujo359 says:

    That is, in a declaration reminding that NSA shut down its domestic bulk dragnet program, it admits it still conducts Internet metadata collection, and suggests it does so under EO 12333 and FAA.

    .
    Seems to be how government works nowadays. If something becomes unpopular or inconvenient to talk about, the cure is to rename it or move it to a different department.

  3. wallace says:

    quote”As noted above, while the bulk PR/TT program is no longer operational, NSA’s core mission continues to include the acquisition and collection of electronic communications under other authorities.”unquote

    Hahahahahahaha! And todays award for Great Moments In Doublespeak goes to……..

    These schmucks never cease to fucking amaze me. For sheer brazenry while keeping a straight face. I’ve got $5 that says every time one of these lying bastards has put his compromised ethics on the line, they get drunk before they even get home. Of course, some of them were compromised before birth anyway..so no big deal.

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