(here’s the link to the Mainway program slide at the Times. If you press Control and + a few times on your Cafe page, usually you can get the page to enlarge. You can see at the bottom ‘Secret/s to USA and FVEY’, which would like mean ‘Five Eyes’. This is a heavily redacted ‘contact-chaining‘ one.)
Laura Poitras and James Risen have teamed up for the story published in the New York Times yesterday, using documents provided by Edward Snowden. Turns out that ol’ Keith Alexander lied to Congress again, what ho?
As Emptywheel says, the NSA really is compiling dossiers on anyone they care to, and it’s gathering a whale of a lot of communication data. As of 2010, they were given the green light by BushCo to gather phone calls and email logs as long as the worker drones can believe that a foreign source is involved in the communication. How many belief hops make a case?
Well, now we know that they make some cool graphs with the connections-metadata dots, and when they look crowded enough, the dossiers can be ‘augmented’.
“The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.”
Ay yi yi! How many ‘event records’ (calls, emails, etc.) are they handling? Well, almost 20 billion a month, according to the NSA’s last budget. Hence, the acute need for the new facility in Bluff dale, Utah, which officials have declined to say whether or not it’s open for business…
“The spy agency, led by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, an unabashed advocate for more weapons in the hunt for information about the nation’s adversaries, clearly views its collections of metadata as one of its most powerful resources. N.S.A. analysts can exploit that information to develop a portrait of an individual, one that is perhaps more complete and predictive of behavior than could be obtained by listening to phone conversations or reading e-mails, experts say.
Phone and e-mail logs, for example, allow analysts to identify people’s friends and associates, detect where they were at a certain time, acquire clues to religious or political affiliations, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist’s office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner or exchanges with a fellow plotter. “
The heretofore provision in the FISA Court’s rulings that once a foreign ‘suspect’s’ communication chain reached Usian soil, analysts weren’t allowed to follow it further was hamstringing the agency, so the rules needed to change, and make the past illegal wire-tapping magically legal. So, enter some Notable Snoop Worthies:
“A new policy that year, detailed in “Defense Supplemental Procedures Governing Communications Metadata Analysis,” authorized by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, said that since the Supreme Court had ruled that metadata was not constitutionally protected, N.S.A. analysts could use such information “without regard to the nationality or location of the communicants,” according to an internal N.S.A. description of the policy.
After that decision, which was previously reported by The Guardian, the N.S.A. performed the social network graphing in a pilot project for 1 ½ years “to great benefit,” according to the 2011 memo. It was put in place in November 2010 in “Sigint Management Directive 424” (sigint refers to signals intelligence).
In the 2011 memo explaining the shift, N.S.A. analysts were told that they could trace the contacts of Americans as long as they cited a foreign intelligence justification. That could include anything from ties to terrorism, weapons proliferation or international drug smuggling to spying on conversations of foreign politicians, business figures or activists.”
By now there’s so much metadata, and it can be processed so quickly…that the NSA’s spending about $400 million a year taking good care of it all. It can be stored for up to ten or fifteen years, heh. But one program’s name is so great I have to share it with you.
“A top-secret document titled “Better Person Centric Analysis” describes how the agency looks for 94 “entity types,” including phone numbers, e-mail addresses and IP addresses. In addition, the N.S.A. correlates 164 “relationship types” to build social networks and what the agency calls “community of interest” profiles, using queries like “travelsWith, hasFather, sentForumMessage, employs.”
So, see? They’re just doing all this in aid of making any of they deem worthy of surveilling Better Persons, and chart our popularity and Friend Counts. Capiche?