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NSA Routinely Monitors Americans’ Communications Without Warrants

Published: March 15, 2017
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Source: Cryptogon

Are They building electronic dossiers on as many of us as they can? I don’t know, but it sure looks that way.

—Cryptogon, 2007: NSA, AT&T and the NarusInsight Intercept Suite

In Open Thread: Trump Wiretap Claims, I wrote:

Where is the uproar over the spook’s data center in Utah? Man, if you think that place is only used to store information gleaned from taps on foreigners, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

Here’s how it typically works on Cryptogon.

1) I make a guess about how bad a situation actually is vs. what the public is being told. Even some Cryptogon readers think I am insane.

2) Years pass.

3) Information comes out that shows that I was essentially right.

4) Years pass.

5) Information comes out that shows that the situation was or is worse than even I thought.

We’re only at stage 3 with the mass surveillance situation.

I’ll reiterate what I think the stage 5 reality could be:

I think the reality is that a dossier on every “citizen” is being automatically maintained. The dossier contains everything from purchases to Internet activity, audio from phone calls, to full contents of emails. Income. Library records. Travel records. etc. Additionally, I think that there is another widget that links activity, that users think is anonymous, up to their main dossier.

And for good measure, most people conveniently carry a GPS tracker/smartphone around with them that provides their location on the ground. I’ve maintained, for about a decade, that mass tracking of people is part of the core functionality of this thing. As I write this, searching the exact phrase, “Wireless Geolocation Branch” on Google shows nothing.

Check out the partial CIA organizational chart that WikiLeaks released a few days ago:

The Wireless Geolocation Branch… Fascinating.

Here is an extended passage from my 2007 post on, Synthetic Environments for Analysis and Simulation:

Remember Russell Tice, the NSA SIGINT officer who had knowledge of a special access NSA operation that was so disturbing that he tried to tell the U.S. Congress about it?

What was Tice talking about here:

Tice said his information is different from the Terrorist Surveillance Program that Bush acknowledged in December and from news accounts this week that the NSA has been secretly collecting phone call records of millions of Americans. “It’s an angle that you haven’t heard about yet,” he said.

An angle that we haven’t heard about. Since everyone and his dog knows about the mass surveillance, what could that angle be?

More recently, Tice said that the NSA intercepts of civilian traffic is “the tip of the iceberg” and says, again, that there is something else, something we still don’t know about. Here’s part of the interview between Tice and Reason:

REASON: What prompted you to step forward now?

Tice: Well, I’ve known this for a long time and I’ve kept my mouth shut…

REASON: You’re referring to what James Risen calls “The Program,” the NSA wiretaps that have been reported on?

Tice: No, I’m referring to what I need to tell Congress that no one knows yet, which is only tertiarily connected to what you know about now.

Ok, so the outrage that Tice was willing to ruin his life over is only “tertiarily connected” to the operation we already new about.

Tice continues:

In my case, there’s no way the programs I want to talk to Congress about should be public ever, unless maybe in 200 years they want to declassify them. You should never learn about it; no one at the Times should ever learn about these things.

The surveillance side of this is the chickenfeed. There’s something far more sinister than the simple surveillance… an angle we haven’t heard about yet.

Tice never did tell his story to Congress about this different aspect of the program.

Well, my guess is that it has something to do with providing surveillance data for this SEAS World Sim thing, and that individual Americans are being watched and potentially targeted with it. Tice’s background seems to involve a lot of traditional electronic warfare, radar and ELINT stuff. Maybe Tice’s deal involved the collection of the mobile phone GPS and/or triangulation data which would provide realtime spacial/geographic data to the SEAS system. In other words, SEAS sees you. They could bring up a map of a city and plot your path based on the information that your phone is exchanging with the mobile network.

I just went to see if Tice has said anything recently. I found this from 2013:

Russell Tice, a retired National Security Agency intelligence analyst and whistleblower, said: “What is going on is much larger and more systemic than anything anyone has ever suspected or imagined.”

He obviously doesn’t read Cryptogon.

Although an anonymous senior Obama administration official said that “on its face” the court order revealed by the Guardian did not authorise the government to listen in on people’s phone calls, Tice now believes the NSA has constructed such a capability.

“I figured it would probably be about 2015” before the NSA had “the computer capacity … to collect all digital communications word for word,” Tice said. “But I think I’m wrong. I think they have it right now.”

There it is.

I think that what has changed over the last several years is that the full dossier functionality, that I’ve speculated about for a decade, has expanded from a group of targeted individuals to everyone.

All of this, I have no doubt at all, is searchable by any combination of keyword, date, name, browser fingerprint, browsing fingerprint, linguistic fingerprint, IP address, geographic proximity, and probably dozens of other criteria.

The cherry on top of this disaster is that the infrastructure is being used illegally to feed information to law enforcement for use against American citizens, “It’s just like laundering money – you work it backwards to make it clean.”

Via: The Intercept:

On Sunday’s Face the Nation, Sen. Rand Paul was asked about President Trump’s accusation that President Obama ordered the NSA to wiretap his calls. The Kentucky senator expressed skepticism about the mechanics of Trump’s specific charge, saying: “I doubt that Trump was a target directly of any kind of eavesdropping.” But he then made a broader and more crucial point about how the U.S. government spies on Americans’ communications — a point that is deliberately obscured and concealed by U.S. government defenders.

Paul explained how the NSA routinely and deliberately spies on Americans’ communications — listens to their calls and reads their emails — without a judicial warrant of any kind:

The way it works is, the FISA court, through Section 702, wiretaps foreigners and then [NSA] listens to Americans. It is a backdoor search of Americans. And because they have so much data, they can tap — type Donald Trump into their vast resources of people they are tapping overseas, and they get all of his phone calls.

And so they did this to President Obama. They — 1,227 times eavesdrops on President Obama’s phone calls. Then they mask him. But here is the problem. And General Hayden said this the other day. He said even low-level employees can unmask the caller. That is probably what happened to Flynn.

They are not targeting Americans. They are targeting foreigners. But they are doing it purposefully to get to Americans.

Paul’s explanation is absolutely correct. That the NSA is empowered to spy on Americans’ communications without a warrant — in direct contravention of the core Fourth Amendment guarantee that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause” — is the dirty little secret of the U.S. Surveillance State.

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