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back to article US chief spook: Look, we only want to spy on 6.66 BEELLLION of you

US spy-boss James Clapper has once again emerged from the shadows to insist that America's global-spanning web surveillance programme is lawful and only targets foreigners. On Friday, director of national intelligence James Clapper said the NSA's clandestine PRISM project - which taps up internet giants for private emails, chat …

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Pint

This is a man to be respected

I have no doubt Edward Snowden is very much aware of how the US has treated Bradley Manning for his leak and yet despite this, he's stood by his beliefs and shown the world what the US is doing with PRISM. A very brave man.

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Re: This is a man to be respected

Indeed. Not sure how smart it is going to China though. They aren't known for treating whistleblowers that well either (google tiger bench). China also isn't somebody like Iceland willing to stand up to super powers on principles alone. China would deliver Snowden in tiny pieces if the west gave them Taiwan scott free.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a man to be respected

I wonder if PRISM is also being used for industrial espionage and to give US companies an advantage ?

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Re: This is a man to be respected

IMHO industrial espionage might be possible but more likely is the government misusing the information to get more tax revenues (ie finding cheaters) because ultimately that is what government cares about. Also probably archiving the information to blackmail current and future politicians that might shut things down.

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Re: This is a man to be respected

""I wonder if PRISM is also being used for industrial espionage and to give US companies an advantage ?""

Or watched Wall Street computers and gave themselves or their families an advantage. He did say that at his own computer "as a contractor" he could easily watch the President or a federal judge so I assume Wall Street would be just as easy selling or buying right before everyone else.

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Trollface

Re: This is a man to be respected

Hey Mike?

Yeah?

You on the LIFFE Hub today?

Yep!

Could you do us a favour mate?

Sure - but it'll cost you. What favour?

I just need 200 latency on close and we will never need to work again. You up to it?

Sounds like fun. Throw a bottle of Whiskey on top and its done mate!

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Big Brother

Well he would say that, wouldn't he?

Here's some more reading for you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON

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Facepalm

Re: Well he would say that, wouldn't he?

" provides a detailed rebuttal of claims that intelligence agencies have a backdoor into firms such as..."

"Backdoor" implies that the NSA has hidden access, but it's not really a back door is it? It's a front door, probably complete with red carpet and (monkey?) butler serving champagne goblets

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Re: Well he would say that, wouldn't he?

agreed, lots of weasel words being flouted.

No 'direct' access, only indirect access to everything.

Only when lawfully obliged to do so. There's a blanket law allowing NSA to do anything they want, ergo they supply the data all the time.

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Facepalm

"...although no actual phone recordings were obtained."

Should be changed, unless you know something I don't. Should be something like, "...although the order did not approve the recording or interception of phone calls."

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Well...yeah: This has always been the excuse: "we're only collecting masses of data because the other half of the conversation is overseas, or it passes through an overseas router" etc.

Then the data can be used for 'swapsies' with the UK and other nations who are *also* spying on other nationals. As the source for the information is not included in any reports generated all nations can claim with a poker face that they aren't spying on their own. They're just getting data off other nations who do it for them. All legal, all above board, all perfectly legit as far as deniability and government oversight is concerned.

It's bullshit, but it keeps them out of prison and it's been going on for decades.

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds highly similar to the whole 'Torture farms' stuff the US does. 'Of course we didn't torture that suspected Islamic terrorist, it was the *insert tinpot dictatorship* that did it, we just flew him there on a plane blindfolded and then heavily implied that we would be willing to give people lots of money to extract information in whatever way they saw fit'.

Same old, same old.

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RE: Psyx

That is why RAF Menwith Hill (Even though it is nothing to do with the RAF as far as I know) exists in this country. Run by America and hence not subject to our laws in any way. I suppose we might do the same for them probably not though I don't they are very trusting.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/01/menwith-hill-eavesdropping-base-expansion

The United States constitution was extremely forward thinking. If the government didn't basically ignore it or try to skirt around it all the time then they would be fine.

The only thing that will get them to see sense will be if an act of terrorism is directly caused by the terrorist getting access to this information. Then they might see.

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Re: RE: Psyx

"The only thing that will get them to see sense will be if an act of terrorism is directly caused by the terrorist getting access to this information. Then they might see."

That doesn't work, either. Remember that the guy behind the Anthrax attacks was one of the government's own, too.

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Big Brother

So hang on, in the past week we've gone from Snowden being a crackpot conspiracy theorist to a 'minor' admin, to now actually admitting that yes, he was right and the NSA does have access to your Facebook and Google data. Funny how the narrative changes isn't it?

Makes you wonder just how many of the 'nutty conspiracy theorist whistleblowers' might be telling the truth, eh?

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Black Helicopters

Making one wonder...

When it comes to conspiracy theories, I try to work out how much competence the theory requires the {insert shadowy organisation here} to have. High difficulty level means less likely, usually.

This one always had a fairly low bar for competence based on what we already know the various cloudy/massive data gathering companies like to collect. Faking the moon landings still needs you to build a really big rocket and not have it explode on launch.

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Stop

"So hang on, in the past week we've gone from Snowden being a crackpot conspiracy theorist to a 'minor' admin, to now actually admitting that yes, he was right and the NSA does have access to your Facebook and Google data. Funny how the narrative changes isn't it?"

It's hardly been a conspiracy for the last decade. There's bloody great listening stations scattered around which are a bit big to hide, and there have been about a dozen reveals of NSA activities in the last few years:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A

Hell: What do you think they need to store a Yottabyte of data for:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Data_Center

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Meh

Credibility

Loss of credibility is something our administration really can not afford, especially if they have more secret spying campaigns that we haven't yet been told about.

Now that I think about it, make that ADDITIONAL loss of credibility.

Oversight without transparency--can you really call that oversight?

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Quandry

The left-leaning media is caught in something of a brain-fart over how to square this with their love of Obama.

(not that I'm right-leaning myself, just an observation, not a stupid gloat.)

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Re: Quandry

It's depressing when even the leadership of the most powerful, most paranoid, most dangerous country on Earth is decided by fashion rather than sense. Apparently you can get away with lying, not fulfilling your promises, adding to the infringement of civil liberties you said you would protect, writing off citizenships to make your people easier to execute, invading and bombing countries at will, mass surveillance, etc when you're the "cool" guy who can skateboard across a stage.

And to think this country impeached a president just for lying about a shag.

I fully expect a story in the next week about how Obama moonwalked across the Lincoln memorial or something, to provide adequate distraction from what a scumbag he is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Quandry

I agree on the 'Obama is a scumbag' thing, but a bit unfair to put the blame squarely on his shoulders, anyone who does, doesn't understand US politics. He can't do whatever he wants just because he's the President. There are obviously many, many interested parties and this has been rolling on a long time. It's not Obama's fault per se, the whole bloody system is fucked.

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Re: Quandry

He can't do whatever he wants just because he's the President

He could at least bloody try. He signed Executive Orders 13492 and 13493 in 2009, which was already late, and then let it slide. Sure, he faced opposition to close it, but that didn't mean that he had to order the re-instatement of military trials in 2011, or that he couldn't be fighting for it in the same way that he appeals to the people for support on gun controls and the like.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Quandry

Obama is to the right of GWB so he's one of yours, buddy.

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Stop

Re: Quandry

"The left-leaning media is caught in something of a brain-fart over how to square this with their love of Obama."

Maybe they'll do it by correctly stating that it was Bush who made this kind of shit legal?

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Re: Quandry

Unfortunately Murph it's called an "Executive Order" and it circumvents the checks and balances the US founders put in place to protect against abuse of power. Bushv1 first really started using it for circumvention of Congress and each subsequent president has stretched its intent further under their tenure; with the culmination of Mr. Obama. You are correct that he cannot pass most legislation, or go to "war", without Congressional approval, however the US Congress is filled with sycophants and milky-eyed monkeys awaiting their marching orders from the "guy citizens would like to have a beer with"; hence the 1.2 trillion dollar health care act which was 1,000+ pages long and passed within a week of him putting it out by Congressmen/women who openly admitted they didn't read it.

No, Obama has carefully crafted his positions to be able to hide his actions and make full use of his Executive power, creating "Czars" so he doesn't have to have Congress approve a cabinet member (not the first but has used it the most), redefining a "hostile" as male over the age of 13 so the drone civilian causality rate decreased and quietly collecting massive amounts of data on US citizens to stop "terrorists" which I guess we are by default without due process or reasonable suspicion; much like being frisked by TSA with no reason except having a plane ticket.

What the media and others aren't vocalizing is that the outrage stems from the basis that Mr. Obama was supposed to be "The Change" for the US. "No more politics as usual" in D.C. and promising complete transparency of government. Along with fixing the economy, shutting down Gitmo, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, cutting the deficit, and on and on. As one poster said, you see various media outlets who couldn't get their lips on to Mr. Obama's ass fast enough when he was elected, having some real dissonance issues right now.

An interesting game: Read US articles and see how many time you see the journalist report something negative about Obama and then quick reference how Bush did the same thing or worse, or how Obama was just continuing a Bush policy. Yes, he was elected in 2008 and is still rolling out Bush whenever he gets caught being incompetent. Welcome to America, it's never our fault...

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Re: Quandry

"I fully expect a story in the next week about how Obama moonwalked across the Lincoln memorial or something, to provide adequate distraction from what a scumbag he is."

You appear labouring under the myth that anyone who makes it into major politics is anything other than a bought and paid for corporate shill who lies for a living.

You honestly think "yours" are better? Last time I checked "your one" started a war solely to make a bunch of people a few zilllllion $$$$s.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Quandry

Obama can arrange to kill whoever he wants, whenever and where ever he wants. Congress must have held a gun to the poor "me hands be 4eva-tied"-poodles nuts and forced him to assume that power; yeah that's what must have happened because the alternative, Obama getting exactly what he asks for is too grim to contemplate for those who were suckered into voting for him!?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Quandry

Maybe they'll do it by correctly stating that it was Bush who made this kind of shit legal?

Nope Obama was the one "concerned" about legality so he took it upon himself to make it legal. Bush/Cheney just didn't give enough of a shit about any "legal stuff" to bother, which somehow makes them less crooked and obnoxious than Obama is .

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Anonymous Coward

"America's global-spanning web surveillance programme is lawful and only targets foreigners"

Hey!

I resemble that remark.

Fuck right off!

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Anonymous Coward

International Outrage

One would've thought that there'd be some sort of international outrage - no matter how insincere.

I guess us foreigners just haven't understood how this affects us, so the pressure on our governments to pretend to give a shit is quite low.

I mean surely the US government admitting to spying on your citizens in huge numbers is something that should worry any other government... right... right? (No!)

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Re: International Outrage

Why on Earth would the UK government be outraged about the US spying on its citizens when it gives them a fantastic method of getting the data and still being able to claim they didn't?

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Re: International Outrage

"I mean surely the US government admitting to spying on your citizens in huge numbers is something that should worry any other government... right... right?"

They aren't spying... you put your data on their servers amirite?

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Black Helicopters

Re: International Outrage

The CIA and the NSA are indeed forbidden to spy on US citizens.

MI6 and GCHQ are forbidden to spy on UK citizens.

They just happen to share intelligence information with each other

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Anonymous Coward

Re: International Outrage

I hate to have to tell you guys, but the UK and US aren't the only countries in the world, and so no necessarily the only countries referred to when talking of International Outrage.

China? Russia? The EU in general? Hell what of Cananda?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: International Outrage

Yup, happening everywhere now.

http://m.huffpost.com/ca/entry/3408662

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Anonymous Coward

Carefully worded non-denial.

access to their data when "lawfully required to do so"

Well, that's OK then, except no, it isn't, since the FISA changes introduced by GWB and retained by BO have gutted the legal protections, legitimised a whole class of warrantless data requests, and the administration is keeping secret their interpretations of the law that have been developed by the DoJ. Secret law is not law, it's unchecked executive power. Democracy in the USA is pretty much over and we'll be next if we don't do something about it.

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Thumb Up

Re: Carefully worded non-denial.

"Secret law is not law, it's unchecked executive power"

Not only, but the companies providing the data are obliged to keep mum. Most probably Google, Microsoft etc spokespeople are being obliged by their legal departments to lie about NSA access because they could be in legal hot water if they told the truth.

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Re: Carefully worded non-denial.

They can be ordered not to tell the truth, they can not be ordered to lie.

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Black Helicopters

A Strange Way to Target Foreigners

We are to believe that Facebook has 1 in 7 of the World's population as users, but 1 in 2 of the US population. I imagine this imbalance is similar for the other services targetted by PRISM.

So, why are the US secret services targeting services that are so disproportionately used by US citizens?

Or are the FB/etc.-using foreigners so much more likely to be terrorists than their non-FB/etc.-using compatriots?

Where's the evidence to back this peculiar targeting of surveillance resources?

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Re: A Strange Way to Target Foreigners

To be fair, the obvious answer is "because they can". I'm sure they'd like to have a back door in Tencent Weibo or whatever they're using in China nowadays as well, but how would they get one?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A Strange Way to Target Foreigners

"So, why are the US secret services targeting services that are so disproportionately used by US citizens?"

Who says that they haven't managed to sign up foreign companies, too, and we just don't know about it yet?

I have difficulties believing anything that politicians (and the accused companies) utter these days. I secretly hope that Anonymous or Lulzsec or any other hacker manages to sneak into the systems of one of the signed-up companies in order to work out and reveal what this "not backdoor" and "not direct access" mechanism truly is about. (And ideally what has been recorded/shared.) Not likely to happen, but I'd buy them a pint if!

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Big Brother

"..only give agents access to their data when "lawfully required to do so""

Those of you familiar with the series "Yes Minister" will recognize that he's not said when that is.

The answer is "all the time."

Remember Americans they only spying on every one else to make you feel safer

You do feel safer, don't you?

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Black Helicopters

Re: "You do feel safer, don't you?"

Before answering that last question, remember, uncle Sam says: "Only a terrorist would not feel safer."

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Happy

Is James Clapper a weasel?

"PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining programme. It is an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government’s statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorised by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act." [...] "can only be used on foreign "targets"" [...] "internet companies only give agents access to their data when "lawfully required to do so"" [...]

But what he said may not mean what you think it means. I am sure there are lawyers who make sure that he doesn't lie even if he is hiding the barn from your eyes. After all, they managed to secretly access 7 years of telecoms data without anybody noticing and somehow they managed to truthfully answer all questions without drawing any attention to that big TOP SECRET barn.

Maybe the illegal program is called iPRISM (not part of PRISM!). Maybe the surveillance of US citizens is another program altogether (top secret, don't ask). Maybe the internet companies are legally required to share all communications data (that's why there is a secret court, after all!).

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Black Helicopters

Yawn

Where exactly is the news in this. Granted I don't live in the most video surveilled country on the planet, but please. No matter which country you live in your country spies on you as much as it thinks it can get away with and it spies on everyone else as much as it possibly can. It is almost like everyone has forgotten the fun and games of the cold war.

.

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Facepalm

"I always give my Papiers willingly and enjoy being waterboarded by Statis goons"

Oh hey it's the shilling sheeple. Your BSE is showing.

> It is almost like everyone has forgotten the fun and games of the cold war.

Well I can't remember that things went into full-on implementation of surveillance plans.

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lawful and only targets foreigners

Well, that's OK, then... Wait a minute, I'm a Canadian. I cry foul.

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Big Brother

I am not a number

What do you want?

We want information.

Whose side are you on?

That would be telling. We want information... information... information.

You won't get it.

By hook or by crook, we will.

Fuck-off America !

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